Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Past Pleasures, Present Pressures

     I’ve found many things to comment on today. Rather than slough any of them, I’ve decided to produce another of the dreaded “assorted” posts. Proceed at your own risk.

     It occurred to me recently that over the past twenty years I’ve acquired only one new taste. When I was much younger, the world seemed filled to the brim with new and exciting things, and I was eager to sample them all. Yet today, when the explosion of pleasures and diversions has made the spectrum of my youth seem constricted and pale, I have very little interest in trying anything I haven’t yet sampled. It usually seems like too much work and expense for too small a probability of reward. But that’s not the whole story.

     Tastes do tend to set in early to middle adulthood. And “pop” culture, being a form of mass merchandising, must change constantly, for only constant variation can maintain product sales, much less increases thereof. Thus, an older person’s attitude toward current “pop” music, art, or what have you is likely to be negative. But this is normal – a designation the Left is doing its level best to anathematize.

     Some people will do anything to remain “relevant.” The limelight must be a terribly addictive thing, for very few who’ve bathed in it surrender it willingly, even when it’s time and long past time.

     For example, it’s plain from the video in yesterday’s emission that Hillary Clinton has decided to join the cult of victimism. It’s a bit odd for a woman who served as a U.S. Senator and Secretary of State to claim that her failure to gain the grand prize of her ambitions was due to anyone other than herself. Yet having been conclusively thwarted in her quest for the presidency after enduring Bill’s philandering for so many years, she had to fall back on something. Perhaps “I’ve been wronged” is the best she can do. At any rate, it’s consistent with her lack of insight and imagination. But to take such a campaign overseas defies all my attempts at explanation.

     Richard Dawkins has morphed from amateur bio-morphologist to professional atheist to crusader against a unique, bizarre notion of “bias:”

     Professional atheist Richard Dawkins continues to push the envelope against a God-deluded world, proposing that cultivating and eating human “meat” might help society overcome its “taboo” against cannibalism.

     Commenting on an article from the UK’s Independent newspaper, which touts the benefits of lab-grown “clean meat,” Dawkins tweeted earlier this month that perhaps something similar could be done with human flesh, which would assist western culture in shedding yet another irrational remnant of its Judeo-Christian roots.

     Dawkins said that eating lab-grown human meat would provide an “interesting test case for consequentialist morality versus ‘yuck reaction’ absolutism,” which keeps people from doing things just because they seem morally repugnant.

     Here we confront a reliable telltale of the ersatz intellectual. Dawkins has not considered even for a moment the possibility that those innate repugnances are founded on built-in knowledge of dangers – what he would call instincts, reinforced and refined by natural selection, in a lesser species. The man simply doesn’t think; he merely emits pronouncements from his personal prejudices. Atop that, he routinely drips scorn and derision upon others for our “irrational” reactions, taboos, and convictions...and the media continue to champion him for it. There’s a moral in there, somewhere.

     Apropos of the subject of tastes: Now and then, the C.S.O. will turn on the television for some purpose other than to watch a Yankee or Ranger game, a movie on DVD, or one of Amazon Prime Video’s offerings. Lately she and (much to my surprise) I have enjoyed TNT’s series The Alienist, about a child-murder spree in late 19th Century New York City. Among its pleasures it numbers the fine acting of Daniel Bruhl, Luke Evans, and Dakota Fanning, a striking portrait of New York City at that time, including the slums and hovels to which immigrants were relegated in those years, and numerous other fascinating details about the period. Recommended.

     Concerning Amazon Prime Video, we can heartily recommend the following:

  • Mozart in the Jungle
  • Electric Dreams
  • Bosch
  • Wolf Hall
  • Absentia
  • The Kettering Incident
  • Hunted
  • Britannia

     Some of the above are Amazon Originals; the others are acquisitions from British and Australian producers. We found all of them to be worth our time – something I rarely say about a show from the “conventional” TV channels.

     One of the blessings Amazon has brought us is a means whereby niche products can be marketed to niche purchasers. For example, the C.S.O. and I have long desired to revisit our old favorite cartoons: Crusader Rabbit and Rocky and Bullwinkle. There can’t be many persons with that particular yen, which would have made the prospect of recouping the production costs of such DVDs a remote one indeed. But Amazon’s reputation for being the place one can find anything at all means that a niche marketer has a real chance of connecting with his targeted consumer.

     Extend this mechanism to any product – and a growing number of services – then add Amazon’s discounting and justly famous customer service. The effect has broadened the spectrum of product offerings and the prospects of would-be entrepreneurs beyond what would have been thinkable even twenty years ago. I mean, can you imagine succeeding with this product in a world without Amazon?

     I’m at work on a sequel to Innocents, with the working title Experienced. It’s founded on a couple of mild speculations about near-future developments. One of these is a sturdy wisdom of which no Internet user can be ignorant: specifically, that no matter how bizarre some sexual variation seems to Smith, there’s a Jones somewhere who’s, ah, jonesing for it. But the reverse of that coin is interesting, too: If a sexual variation is rendered inaccessible, those who’ve dabbled in it will be vexed, and probably spurred to action.

     So: We know that there are some thousands of persons worldwide who inhabit the borderland of sexual identity: bodies that outwardly appear female, but possess male genitalia. We also know that there are thousands of persons – mostly male – who seek such persons as sex partners. Should the former become unavailable, how would the latter react?

     I explored one possibility in Innocents, albeit without first postulating that “shemales” – born male, but modified through surgery, diet, and hormones into appearing female except for genitalia – had somehow vanished. But given the emergence of a technology of desire control, it’s quite possible that the emotional disorder that gives rise to “shemales” could be extinguished. (See this novel for details.) How would those who desire “shemale” lovers react? For that matter, how would persons who have already elected that state for themselves react to the notion that their aberration is steadily being eliminated from existence, leaving them a demographic isolated in time?

     I await your thoughts.

1 comment:

OLD CRONE said...

Just wait, soon McDonald's and other restaurant chains will be offering up clean meat on the menu. And just like genetically modified fruits and vegetables, big business has absolutely no intention of telling you what you're eating. Soylent Green is people! Who would have thought such a cheesy movie could be prophetic?