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Cultural Fugue in Stars in my Pocket

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  • tricky_nut <tricky_nut@yahoo.co.uk>
    Hi everybody! I joined the list a few months ago and it has taken me this long to gather courage to post a message myself. I was hoping that you could help me
    Message 1 of 3 , Feb 2, 2003
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      Hi everybody!

      I joined the list a few months ago and it has taken me this long to
      gather courage to post a message myself. I was hoping that you could
      help me with one small question that has been haunting me lately:
      What exactly is cultural fugue in Stars in my Pocket (which is, by
      the way, the best book I've ever read)?

      Does CF actually exist, or is it just Family propaganda trying to
      persuade worlds to join the Family instead of the Sygn? (Family
      adherents are holding on to the traditions and values they have
      carried with them from the old Earth, whereas the Sygn way of life is
      freer and more open to change.)

      So, is CF "Sygn's freedom to be whatever you like" lifestyle run
      amok, or is it just "this is what will happen if you forget the good
      old traditions and conventions" -style horror story made up by the
      Family. (I hope I'm not being totally unintelligible here...)

      Or is it something completely different? All interpretations are more
      than welcome!

      Cheers,
      Trickie
    • Zvi Gilbert
      Hi and welcome to the list, ... It s something like a world-wide nuclear war, though probably with weapons of destruction that make nukes look somewhat sad.
      Message 2 of 3 , Feb 3, 2003
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        Hi and welcome to the list,

        > What exactly is cultural fugue in Stars in my Pocket (which is, by
        > the way, the best book I've ever read)?

        It's something like a world-wide nuclear war, though probably with weapons
        of destruction that make nukes look somewhat sad.

        "For a world to go into Cultural Fugue -- for the socio-
        economic pressures to reach a point of technological
        recomplication and perturbation where the population
        completely destroys all life across the planetary surface --
        takes a lot of catastrophe."

        Marq Dyeth, that is. He also is talking with Clym and says about the CF on
        Rat Korga's world: 'It wasn't something as primitive as atomics...?',
        implying that atomics are a POSSIBLE, though primitive, tool of CF.

        > Does CF actually exist, or is it just Family propaganda trying to
        > persuade worlds to join the Family instead of the Sygn?

        As I recall, CF affects both Family and Sygn worlds, as well as worlds
        that are in Interplay. Can't find the cite. It sure seems to exist since
        it's such a prominent part of the novel. Whether it is really triggered
        by the human/native population or whether the Xlv have something to do
        with it is not explained.

        > So, is CF "Sygn's freedom to be whatever you like" lifestyle run
        > amok, or is it just "this is what will happen if you forget the good
        > old traditions and conventions" -style horror story made up by the
        > Family. (I hope I'm not being totally unintelligible here...)

        Well, again quoting the book, both the Family and the Sygn are ways of
        stabilizing societies and preventing cultural fugue, mostly on worlds
        where it wasn't very likely to happen anyway.

        Probably both sides propagandize that their method is the 'best'. Marq
        seems to believe that his Sygn life is to be prefered over Family. (And
        then there's the non-aligned but Sygn-leaning Web that binds the galaxy's
        information network...)

        Hope this helps,

        --Zvi
        zvi@...
      • Ron Henry
        ... Yes. It s an old trope in science fiction that the sorts of catastrophes that have threatened to wipe out human society and life on Earth in general during
        Message 3 of 3 , Feb 4, 2003
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          Zvi wrote:

          >It's something like a world-wide nuclear war, though probably with weapons
          >of destruction that make nukes look somewhat sad.
          >
          > "For a world to go into Cultural Fugue -- for the socio-
          > economic pressures to reach a point of technological
          > recomplication and perturbation where the population
          > completely destroys all life across the planetary surface --
          > takes a lot of catastrophe."

          Yes. It's an old trope in science fiction that the sorts of catastrophes
          that have threatened to wipe out human society and life on Earth in general
          during the 20th century -- conventional world war, nuclear war, epidemics,
          rampant toxic pollution -- might be a common, even universal hurdle which
          all planetary societies need to face and eventually overcome if they are to
          become stable space-faring civilizations.

          I read CF as a kind of post-structuralist term for this general trope.
          Where the idea is that some combination of the destructive means I
          mentioned above, propelled by socio-economic ills such as uneven
          distribution of wealth and privilege, bigotry, hatred, disregard for the
          environment, overpopulation, religious intolerance, etc., can go critical
          and wipe out a planet.

          Sveicess@... wrote:

          >Another Sygn-related question: during
          >her description of Rat Korga's awakening from the healing tanks, Marq's
          >friend recalls herself thinking, "What species is this?" Marq suggests this
          >type of thought might be considered blasphemous by Sygn priests. Anyone
          >know why?

          I presume the Sygn die-hards would consider overt concern about an
          individual's species to be a form of racism/speciesism. Implied in the
          very fact that it matters that much to her what species he might be, is a
          sense she must be pre- judging and making stereotyped assumptions about
          other individuals first by what species they are (rather than letting their
          actions and words speak for them).

          Seems related (difference in scale but not in kind) to the discussion a
          week or two ago about terms for African Americans -- the question (similar
          in form to "What species is this?") was asked: "What do we call them?", to
          which some of us (in a Sygn priest neo-PC sort of way) more-and-less
          rhetorically responded: "People".

          It seems to me that the Sygn (among a multitude of other things) strives to
          eliminate (esp. if harmful) consciousness of racial/gender/species
          difference in interpersonal relationships. Recall also that the Family
          first family, the Thants, when they have their little meltdown at the party
          at Dyethshome, put aside polite convention and directly express their very
          non-Sygn revulsion at the Dyeths' mixed-species "stream".

          It's linked to the notion that the structural unit most significant (that
          _signifies_ best in social context) for the Family is, well, the family
          (implying overt concern with genetic and social heritage [read: race]);
          while for the Sygn this unit of social significance/signifying is the
          individual creating her social context dynamically, regardless of species
          or race or gender (or height!).

          Ron
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