19.11.03

I'm finished preparing my group project, we do it tonight, and once again I am back at my essay on religious propaganda in WWII Germany. That essay is turnign out to be more frustrating than I expected... I just can't stay focused. I read about what was happening back then, and I start thinking about so many other things, which are good and important, but have nothing to do with my essay.

Timeline

I bought "Timeline" by Micheal Crichton about 2 weeks ago, and I just finished it the other day. The book isn't nearly as subtle in its plot or characters as many of his earlier books; several parts of it follow what are becoming recognizable patterns in Crichton, with variations, yes, but not entirely new. It seems the book was almost written to be a movie, and no surprise, the movie is being released on the 26th of this month (after massive delays). Nonetheless, the book was excellent. Crichton does not fail to deliver what, in my opinion, is the best part of his books. That is, his unique vision of the future, combined with some interesting characters and actions that seem to be such a natural outworking of where our world is headed, and some veiled yet penetrating criticism of the present.

The rich and ruthless business man of the book is the source of much of this material. In a speech to potential supporters, he puts his thumb right on our day. "What is the dominant mode of experience at the end of the twentieth century? How do people see things, and how do they expect to see things? The answer is simple. In every field, from business to politics to marketing to education, the dominant mode has become entertainment." He goes on to explain what this means and how he intends to exploit it. Doninger, the man making the speech, realizes that as long as people are running on entertainment they will continually be shifting from one form to another. He then predicts that the next major buzz will be "Authenticity", and he plans to take advantage of it. "And what is authentic? Anything that is not devised and structured to make a profit. Anything that is not controlled by corporations. Anything that exists for its own sake, that assumes its own shape. But of course, nothing in the modern world is allowed to assume its own shape."

There is much more in this book, for when Doninger's comments are set aside the experiences of those who have travelled to the past, you see the vanity and pointlessness of it all. Several of the characters see this to.
We, in our period of time and in our part of the world, are incredibly lucky. We are really some of the first people who don't have to worry about our lives, or our daily bread. What we really have to fear is boredom. Of course, we aren't quite the first ones, there were those Roman citizens. They didn't have it quite as good as us, but they too got to the point where they just needed to be entertained. Of course, it didn't last. The "barbarian hoardes" encroached. Meanwhile several emporers couldn't open their eyes enough to see that the most important thing was no longer the gladiatoral rings; of course, they never were, but they couldn't see that either.

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