My iPod is still broken. I thought - per comments to a previous post - it might be a defective firewire cable. Science marches on. I have established that is not the case. I unfold this private sorrow because Amazon is having a serious sale on iPods - and nanos. If, like, twenty of you go and buy right now, I'll earn enough to, well, buy an iPod. Sale ends tomorrow or something. 60 GB w/video - $379.99; 30 GB w/video - $269.99; 2 GB nano - $179. Pretty good prices.
And the new twist on our home mac situation is that the power cable on our iBook broke in two, so now we can't, like, power it. So the fact that the iPod mysteriously works with the iBook (not the iMac) is no less mysterious, but even less suggestive of viable musical tactics. But I sort of think this old electrician we hire to do odd jobs might just be able to reattach the frayed wires. Is that wise?
Oh, hey. That's one fine Johnny Cash CD for sale cheap.
This post needs substance. Here's a question for you. I honestly don't know how to formulate it, so reformulations would be welcome. Who has done a good job of plotting the course of 20th Century disillusionment with the possibility of social engineering? Just for starters, consider fiction like Brave New World, or - my personal favorite (and always available in a bargain DVD 3-pak!) H.G. Wells, The Shape of Things To Come. The concern in this fiction is not that social engineering will fail but that it is terrifyingly likely to succeed too well! We'll regiment and order our lives so rationally that the romance and individuality will be squashed out. You get lots of anxiety about this in writings on society in the 50's and 60's - Organization Man-type Grey Flannel Suit stuff. Trilling's The Liberal Imagination contains undertones of concern that the liberal consensus shall be too overwhelming. Even parables like Forbidden Planet, which posit that the id will necessarily erupt in awkward ways, are palpably concerned that the rational superego might manage to put an impressively hermetic seal on the id, at least for a while. These days, I should say, the fantasy of reason pure and ascendant, applied to social engineering, has less of a tug on our intuitions - or at least our literary tastes. Something like Brave New World reads like a thought-experiment, hardly like a terrifying, all-too-possible future.
Think about how Forbidden Planet tales get told these days. Belle and I just watched Serenity. PLOT-SPOILERS!
Serenity is fun. But it's a bit of a surprise that the narrative hinge, after all, turns out to be that good old trope from Forbidden Planet, or even The Time Machine. Or Jekyll and Hyde. Stupid, stupid technocrat creatures thought they could strain out our civilized nicey bits from the naughty bits. Instead, they invented Rievers (sp?) and helpless denatured Eloi/Mirandans. (Miranda? Forbidden Planet? The Tempest?) Anyway, think how the story gets told. It's not Brave New World. It's a Western. The Alliance never really feels like the cold hand of Mustapha Mond moving over the surface of the human heart, even if that black assassin dude is pretty stone cold.
Getting back to the history question: obviously disillusionment with the possibility of social engineering has a lot to do with spectacular failures of social engineering in the 20th Century. That's obvious enough. But who has written well about this? Changing attitudes about what is possible.