(urth) Predictions Re: The Politics Of Gene Wolfe

David Stockhoff dstockhoff at verizon.net
Wed Aug 1 05:55:44 PDT 2012

On 8/1/2012 8:41 AM, Ryan Dunn wrote:
> On Aug 1, 2012, at 8:07 AM, David Stockhoff <dstockhoff at verizon.net> wrote:
>> On 8/1/2012 1:07 AM, Ryan Dunn wrote:
>>> On Jul 31, 2012, at 10:36 PM, David Stockhoff wrote:
>>>> On 7/28/2012 8:52 PM, António Pedro Marques wrote:
>>>>> No dia 28/07/2012, às 15:18, Gwern Branwen <gwern0 at gmail.com> escreveu:
>>>>>> On Sat, Jul 28, 2012 at 9:45 AM, Fernando Gouvea <fqgouvea at colby.edu> wrote:
>>>>>>> I'm wondering why you care so much.
>>>>>> I have a long-standing interest in predictions and what they reveal,
>>>>>> which would alone would justify my interest, but besides that...
>>>>>> I care because I wish one of my favorite authors to be an
>>>>>> intellectually respectable author, perhaps along the lines of
>>>>>> Chesterton or Buckley or Charles Murray who I also enjoy reading, and
>>>>>> it's disappointing to me to see that it's not a few allusions or plot
>>>>>> twists that I perhaps was simply misinterpreting or being overly
>>>>>> sensitive to.
>>>>>> And also because people here seem to have a hard time accepting it, so
>>>>>> additional data is welcome; witness the previous attempts to explain
>>>>>> it all away, or in this thread the suggestion that maybe he was joking
>>>>>> or trolling!
>>>>> I've read it again. I can see no connection between the predictions and your comments on them. You even say all of them are wrong, except most of them. About the only thing wrong there is the one on sex, which is so alien that people are justified in seeing it all as mere ideas to play with. More than the missing fall of the SU, the two important things no one had predicted are the rise of islamic fundamentalism and the Russian mafia.
>>>>> Unless you mean that the vision of controlling government is bonkers. Well, sorry, but you'll have to look very hard to find an sf writer who doesn't share that view.
>>>> But they are all wrong. Taken as a whole, they are way, way off. Of course I would not expect much "accuracy" so I don't care. Maybe they are in fact better than others' predictions.
>>>> I think Gwern is suggesting that they work better as predictions of "what cranky, ill-informed old people will believe/fear/desire in 2012." I take the point. You have heard of the, er, "Red Rose Brigade"?
>>>> (hint: they're a potent cup of tea!)
>>> David,
>>> Personally, I took the whole essay as a bit of a lark on the part of Mr. Wolfe. I did like how he associated each finger with a facet of our human nature, though, then used it as a platform for his societal predictions.
>>> . . .
>>> - Literacy was a big paranoia back then, eh? Even still, half of this prediction could be interpreted as totally true. Or that same half could be interpreted to be completely false. It seems to me like Gene was giving non-predictions as much as predictions.
>>> Maybe that's just me.
>> Sure, of course it was a lark. And yes, one could easily interpret each one as /half /true. Where does that get us?
>> As clarification, I didn't mean Wolfe /intended/ to predict
>> "what cranky, ill-informed old people will believe/fear/desire in 2012."
>> And yet he succeeded---in my estimation, by /more than/ half. That must mean something.
>> BTW, literacy paranoia has been in vogue in the US since at least the 1960s.
> Since a few posters were giving varying amounts of weight to these predictions and letting it color their impression of him, the place my observation was hoping to get us was actually out of such a lofty critique of what I took to be a half joke blip of Mr. Wolfe's musings.
> ...ryan
Understood. But what's "lofty" about making an observation about the 
written word---or trying to make sense of another reader's observation?

One could easily write whole books of criticism about the paranoid style 
in Gene Wolfe, and in dystopian SF in general (as someone has already 
noted). I don't know what they would conclude, but I'd be interested in 
reading them.


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