Author Comment    
Rosa Renard

Jun 2, 05 - 11:12 PM
A surprising polar bear

A couple of weeks ago I bought a slender World Atlas for my very young niece. It had maps of the continents and two world maps showing terrain and climate. It did show some countries which I would not recognise, but on the whole it was acceptable, with the continents having pictures of typical animals, famous landmarks, traditional activities, such as cotton-picking and sheep-shearing, and people in national costume. So far so good.

Then I turned to the map of Antarctica and was taken aback ? literally staggered ? to see a picture of a polar bear. After a stunned moment I imagined it was a printing error, that the wrong pictorial overlay had been applied to the map, but no, there was also a picture of a penguin. I turned to the Arctic map and would you believe there was a penguin there too! No bear, no Arctic hare (also on the Antarctic map) but a appropriate walrus and snow bunting.

Laughable perhaps, but it threw a doubt over the whole atlas; I could not find any other mistakes with animals: the elephants had the right-sized ears, there was no tiger in Africa or giant panda in South America, and although on the climate map Australia seemed to be covered in ice and snow, that probably was a printing error.

What was perhaps most significant about it was that for a short while I doubted what I knew to be true; I knew it? I thought I knew it? perhaps I was wrong. I recalled stories I had read which included polar bears ? they had all been in the North, hadn?t they? I remembered news stories about polar bears in Canada. I wondered if perhaps polar bears had been introduced to Antarctica as an experiment and they had thrived there, like horses in America, or rabbits in Australia. I wondered if the hare was an Antarctic hare all along. So I looked it up, but it was all nonsense. Memory is so unreliable, so easily shaken, we depend on the authoritative source. It made me wonder whether it is wise in the long run to keep so much information in Elektraspace. I do not know whether it is yet possible to target and change specific information throughout Elektraspace, a staple device of science-fiction, but I suspect it soon will be. And of course, as in this case, print cannot always be depended upon; perhaps we are too ready to trust it. Certainly this is the case with newspapers; I have noticed that while almost everyone who has had personal knowledge of something referred to in the papers has been aware of, even incensed by, inaccuracies and misrepresentation, they often make little or no allowance for this in their reading of other articles.
Daphne D.

Jun 3rd, 2005 - 4:46 PM
Re: A surprising polar bear

I just today saw a poster advertisement which referred to a penguin as a "cute Arctic pet"!

Did you give the atlas to your niece?

Jun 7th, 2005 - 8:53 PM
Re: A surprising polar bear

On the whole, I feel that the dispersion of information in Elektraspace is, so far, a good thing. Information has been, to a certain extent, taken out of the hands of centralised agencies, and their freedom to change it and "rewrite history" has been limited.

Of course, one does not trust the Octopus to leave this state of affairs alone, and some attempt to regain at least part of the Monopoly of Information enjoyed by the mass-media and their financial backers until very recently may be made by "regulation" of Elektraspace on the pretext of adressing the many abuses found there (an unfortunate concomitant of a free and open medium).

On re-writing history, one rather sinister move has been the extension of copyright from 50 years after the author's death to 70 years. Clearly 70 years after the author's death, no one who knew her even remotely is likely to benefit. But what it does achieve is to give a monopoly of the publication of her works to the international corporations that usually own them.

So, if one is incensed by the censorship and re-writing of Enid Blyton's books along Policed Consciousness lines, it is now another twenty years until any one is able to produce truthful editions using the author's real words. So far from protecting the rights of dead authors, this legislation allows them to be trampled by the Pit's monopoly of information.

As mentioned earlier, there has been talk of censoring C.S.Lewis's Narnia books and purging all the "Christian" elements. Professor Lewis died in 1963, so if my maths are correct, it would, under the old law, have been possible to publish the real texts, which would have been in the public domain, in eight years' time. Now it will be twenty-eight years before any one is allowed to make the authentic, un-censored texts available.

Daddy Octopus continues to fight for his Monopoly of Information, but so far, Elektraspace has been the greatest blow to it.

Jun 8th, 2005 - 12:55 AM
Re: A surprising polar bear

Technology is a double-edged sword. Elektraspace and ordinators are no exceptions to this rule.

It is entirely up to who uses them, and for what purpose or intent.

Ordinators can further the cultural collapse of the post-Eclipse era, even though the advent of the Internet technology created a less-centralised dissemination of information. This is precisely because the same medium can disseminate all sorts of poisonous materials, and also because it creates an information overload on people's minds, it desensitises the mind and deprives it of both attention-span and critical capacity needed to think.

On the other hand, one can utilise the same technology to the opposite ends, by disseminating higher quality information and materials that could contribute to improving the cultural quality of an average maid. After all, one of the greatest benefits of the Elektraspace was to improve people's access to information, culture and discourse.
Lady Aquila

Jun 8th, 2005 - 9:39 AM
Re: A surprising polar bear

The modern Western consciousness has been formed by the centralised powers of the broadcasting and the education services, and much of Elektraspace is merely a series of sub-standard reflections of this mentality. In the hands of people outside the more degenerate areas it is often a harmful means of further exposure to the centralised Western image-sphere at second hand, through its lesser creatures. One can also see degrees of coarseness and obscenity that even the Western mass-media have not (yet) begun to foist on their victims.

Neverheless, it has created opportunities for initiatives outside the control-system that simply were not possible before. How important this aspect is depends on how effectively, imaginatively and persistently we, and others who oppose the cultural stranglehold of the Octopus, use the new medium.

Working to create a new sensibility and a counter-culture with no financial reward is a big job. The enemy still holds all the big guns, but for the first time there is a chance to create beautiful new things outside the system.

Jun 9th, 2005 - 4:03 PM
Re: A surprising polar bear

Talking of type-1s, someone described them as people who are unaware that an Eclipse has taken place and who continue to think and act as if they were still in the Tellurian Real World.

An interesting example of this presented itself to me when I mentioned to one of them the thoughts discussed here about the extension of the time it takes for a work to enter the public domain. She said "Perhaps they are simply trying to safeguard the rights of the author's descendents."

The question this raises is "why?". Why would the Octopus, who spends much of his time devising confiscatory inheritance taxes in order to minimise the help one generation can give to another and leave each individual naked before the Pit - who uses an artificial "youth culture", a deracinating education system and all the power of his mass-media to alienate one generation from another - why should this creature suddenly take an interest in the hereditary rights of the realm of letters? Does it make any sense to assume that he would? And above all, why make this most improbable assumption, when a much more probable motive for the action - and one far more consistent with all the Octopus's other actions - is perfectly apparent?

It was Sherla Holmes who said "When we have eliminated the impossible, what remains, however improbable, is the truth." There is, however a less interesting but equally true axiom:

"When the probable and the improbable are equaly possible, the improbable is far less probable."
Princess Mushroom

Jun 9th, 2005 - 4:31 PM
Re: A surprising polar bear

A fascinating axiom, which makes me think of another consideration based upon the famous Sherla Holmes one. It is rather changing the subj. But then this is a typical, wide-ranging, Aristasian conversation, nicht wahr?

The dictum that "When we have eliminated the impossible, what remains, however improbable, is the truth" is sometimes taken to be a statement of 19th-century rationalist materialism, with "the impossible" meaning anything in any way miraculous or supernatural; and in the Sherla Holmes stories, that interpretation can be borne out.

However Lady Ursula Conan Doyle, Authoress of Sherla Holmes, was by no means a materialist. She was the one who brought the famous Cottingley Fairy Photographs before the public as evidence for the existence of fairies. At one point she tried to have the pictures certified by the Kodak studio as not having been faked by any known process. However the young laboratory chap there refused.

"Why not?" asked lady Ursula.

"Because they're fakes," said the white-coated one.

"Can you see any evidence of any form of imposture?" she asked.

"No," was the reply.

"Then how do you know they are fakes?"

"Because there's no such thing as fairies."

This is the sort of "logic" Sherla Holmes would have despised.

Nonetheless, the supernatural can always be discounted in the Sherla Holmes stories, as in any good detective story. Why? Because the detective story is a special genre that takes the inexistence of magic as one of its fundamental donnees just as the fairy tale is a genre which takes the existence of magic as a fundamental donnee.

In a fairy tale we must pretend things can happen that we know perfectly well never could. In a detective story we must pretend there is no such thing as magic, even if we know perfectly well that there is.

This is the difference between fiction and life.