Leave 1984 and Brave New World in the dust. Move onto the dystopias of their futures.
One of the more riveting documentaries ever made, a retelling of the Jorelma Building's 1974 burning, its score by Robert Ceely is from the In Search Of/Chariots of the Gods realm of spooky electronica, it seems horrific audibly. A curt, woven, dry narration accompanies the beeping score; the short has two parts, the simple narrative facts, and then the detailed, nuanced retelling. Local newsfootage was repackaged by the National Fire Protection Association as propaganda to unify building codes for prevention. Effects by the director of Tron, Steven Lisberger.
"It is our despair at the textural inadequacies of
language that drives us to heighten the structural ones toward"
From the back cover:
"THE SUN HAS GROWN DEADLY...
THE WORLD HAS GONE MAD, SOCIETY HAS
PERISHED, SAVAGERY RULES
OVER ALL. ALL THAT WAS KNOWN
IS OVER, ALL THAT WAS FAMILIAR IS
STRANGE AND TERRIBLE. TODAY
AND YESTERDAY COLLIDE WITH TOMORROW.
IN THESE DYING DAYS OF EARTH,
A YOUNG DRIFTER ENTERS THE CITY"
The book William Gibson wrote an introduction for and admitted he didn't understand. If Cormac McCarthy has a counterpart in masterpiece science-fiction, it is Dhalgren, the most absurdly accurate 'apocalypse' set in some form of earth, in a time-frame no one is exactly sure about. And hallucinations occur sometimes in words that no longer exist. It will be the masterpiece that outlives us and tells future generations what we really knew about the decay of knowledge and the oral histories that will travel along our children's, children's children. Memories barely of the beginings of the end: "the riot began with a murder, some say it was a plane that crashed. No one really knows. That was the time of fear." The hero is an amnesiac who is labelled "The Kid" and enters the soon to be mythic city of Bellona, only now its inhabitants live mostly in memories, and whatever fragments of life cab be scraped by temporarily, since cities have no purpose except to store mass memories and here, there are none being made. Just living from cans, having sex, and fighting and sometimes group socialization. Oh, wait, it sounds like our present day cities, only without electricity, cars, running water... The following chapter heading paragraphs transition to third-person immediately afterwards.
"2 It is not that I have no past. Rather, it continually fragments on the terrible and vivid ephemera of now. In the long country, cut with rain, somehow there is nowhere to begin. Loping and limping in the ruts, it would be easier not to think about what she did (was done to her, done to her, done), trying instead to reconstruct what it is at a distance. Oh, but it would not be so terrible had one calf not borne (if I'd look close, it would have been a chain of tiny wounds with moments of flesh between; I've done that myself with a swipe in a garden past a rose) that scratch.
II Here I am and am no I. The circle in all, this change changing in winteress, a dawn circle with an image of, the autumn change with a change of mist. Mistake two pictures, one and another. No. Only in seasons of shortlight, only on dead afternoons. I will not be sick again. I will not. You are here.
..How can I say that that is my prize possession? (They do not fade, neither those buildings or these.) Rather what we know as real is burned away at invisible heat. What we are concerned with is more insubstantial. I do not know. It is as simple as that. For the hundreth time, I do not know and cannot remember. I do not want to be sick again. I do not want to be sick."
These are selections (and some Op-Ed illustrations) from the New York Times as Europe expanded WWI. During this period speculation was endless, and news served as a listing of observation and a vector for propaganda. Notice the Italians place hats satirically on stars floating in space.
By Rudyard Kipling
The following speech was delivered by Mr. Kipling on Jan. 27, 1915, at a meeting in London promoted by the Recruiting Bands Committee, and held with the object of raising bands in the London district as an aid to recruiting.
The most useful thing that a civilian can do in these busy days is to speak as little as possible, and if he feels moved to write, to confine his efforts to his check book. [Laughter.] But this is an exception to that very sound rule. We do not know the present strength of the new armies. Even if we did it would not be necessary to make it public. But we may assume that there are several battalions in Great Britain which were not in existence at the end of last July, and some of them are in London. Nor is it any part of our national policy to explain how far these battalions are prepared for the work which is ahead of them. They were born quite rightly in silence. But that is no reason why they should continue to walk in silence for the rest of their lives. [Cheers.] Unfortunately up to the present most of them have been obliged to walk in silence or to no better accompaniment than whistles and concertinas and other meritorious but inadequate instruments of music with which they have provided themselves. In the beginning this did not matter so much. More urgent needs had to be met; but now that the new armies are what they are, we who cannot assist them by joining their ranks owe it to them to provide them with more worthy music for their help, their gratification, and their honor. [Cheers.]
I am not a musician, so if I speak as a barbarian I must ask you and several gentlemen on the platform here to forgive me. From the lowest point of view a few drums and fifes in the battalion mean at least five extra miles in a route march, quite apart from the fact that they can swing a battalion back to quarters happy and composed in its mind, no matter how wet or tired its body may be. Even when there is no route marching, the mere come and go, the roll and flourishing of drums and fifes around the barracks is as warming and cheering as the sight of a fire in a room. A band, not necessarily a full band, but a band of a dozen brasses and wood-winds, is immensely valuable in the district where men are billeted. It revives memories, it quickens association, it opens and unites the hearts of men more surely than any other appeal can, and in this respect it aids recruiting perhaps more than any other agency. I wonder whether I should say this—the tune that it employs and the words that go with that tune are sometimes very remote from heroism or devotion, but the magic and the compelling power is in them, and it makes men's souls realize certain truths that their minds might doubt.
Further, no one, not even the Adjutant, can say for certain where the soul of the battalion lives, but the expression of that soul is most often found in the band. [Cheers.] It stands to reason that 1,200 men whose lives are pledged to each other must have some common means of expression, some common means of conveying their moods and their thoughts to themselves and their world. The band feels the moods and interprets the thoughts. A wise and sympathetic bandmaster—and the masters that I have met have been that—can lift a battalion out of depression, cheer it in sickness, and steady and recall it to itself in times of almost unendurable stress. [Cheers.] You may remember a beautiful poem by Sir Henry Newbolt, in which he describes how a squadron of weary big dragoons were led to renewed effort by the strains of a penny whistle and a child's drum taken from a toyshop in a wrecked French town. I remember in India, in a cholera camp, where the men were suffering very badly, the band of the Tenth Lincolns started a regimental sing-song and went on with that queer, defiant tune, "The Lincolnshire Poacher." It was their regimental march that the men had heard a thousand times. There was nothing in it—nothing except all England, all the East Coast, all the fun and daring and horse play of young men bucketing about big pastures in the moonlight. But as it was given, very softly at that bad time in that terrible camp of death, it was the one thing in the world that could have restored, as it did restore, shaken men back to their pride, humor, and self-control. [Cheers.] This may be an extreme instance, but it is not an exceptional one. Any man who has had anything to do with the service will tell you that the battalion is better for music at every turn, happier, more easily handled, with greater zest in its daily routine, if that routine is sweetened with melody and rhythm—melody for the mind and rhythm for the body.
Our new armies have been badly served in this essential. Of all the admirable qualities which they have shown none is more wonderful than the spirit which has carried them through the laborious and distasteful groundwork of their calling without one note of music, except that which the same indomitable spirit provided out of their own heads. We have all seen them marching through the country, through the streets of London, in absolute silence and the crowds through which they passed as silent as themselves for the lack of the one medium that could convey and glorify the thoughts that are in us all today.
We are a tongue-tied brood at the best. The bands can declare on our behalf without shame and without shyness something of what we all feel and help us to reach a hand toward the men who have risen up to save us. In the beginning the more urgent requirements of the new armies overrode all other considerations. Now we can get to work on some other essentials. The War Office has authorized the formation of bands for some of the London battalions, and we may hope presently to see the permission extended throughout Great Britain. We must not, however, cherish unbridled musical ambitions, because a full band means more than forty pieces, and on that establishment we should even now require a rather large number of men; but I think it might be possible to provide drums and fifes for every battalion, full bands at the depots, and a proportion of battalion bands on half, or even one-third, establishments.
But this is not a matter to be settled by laymen; it must be discussed seriously between bandmasters and musicians—present, past, and dug up. [Laughter.] They may be trusted to give their services with enthusiasm. We have had many proofs in the last six months that people only want to know what the new army needs, and it will be gladly and cheerfully given. The army needs music, its own music, for, more than in any other calling, soldiers do not live by bread alone. From time immemorial the man who offers his life for his land has been compassed at every turn of his service with elaborate ceremonial and observance, of which music is no small part, all carefully designed to support and uphold him. It is not seemly and it is not expedient that any portion of that ritual should be slurred or omitted now. [Cheers.]
By the Naval Correspondent of The London Times
[From The London Times, Jan. 22, 1915.]
Some doubt has been thrown by correspondents upon the ability of the Zeppelins to reach London from Cuxhaven, the place from which the raiders of Tuesday night appear to have started. The distance which the airships traveled, including their manoeuvres over the land, must have been quite 650 miles. This is not nearly as far as similar airships have traveled in the past. One of the Zeppelins flew from Friedrichshafen, on Lake Constance, to Berlin, a continuous flight of about 1,000 miles, in thirty-one hours. Our naval officers will also recall the occasion of the visit of the First Cruiser Squadron to Copenhagen in September, 1912, when the German passenger airship Hansa was present. The Hansa made the run from Hamburg to Copenhagen, a distance of 198 miles, in seven hours, and Count Zeppelin was on board her. Supposing an airship left Cuxhaven at noon on some day when the conditions were favorable and traveled to London, she could not get back again by noon next day if she traveled at the half-power speed which the vessels on Tuesday appear to have used. But if she did the run at full speed—that is to say, at about fifty miles an hour—she could reach London by 9 o'clock the same evening, have an hour to manoeuvre over the capital, and return by 7 o'clock next morning. With a favorable wind for her return journey, she might make an even longer stay. Given suitable conditions, therefore, as on Tuesday, there appears to be no reason why, as far as speed and fuel endurance are concerned, these vessels should not reach London from Cuxhaven.
With regard also to the amount of ammunition a Zeppelin can carry, this depends, of course, on the lifting power of the airship and the way in which it is distributed. The later Zeppelins are said to be able to carry a load of about 15,000 pounds, which is available for the crew, fuel for the engines, ballast, provisions, and spare stores, a wireless installation, and armament or ammunition. With engines of 500 horse power, something like 360 pounds of fuel is used per hour to drive them at full speed. Thus for a journey of twenty hours the vessel would need at least 7200 pounds of fuel. The necessary crew would absorb 2000 pounds more, and probably another 1500 pounds would be taken up for ballast and stores. Allowing a weight of 250 pounds for the wireless equipment, there would remain about 4000 pounds for bombs, or something less than two tons of explosives, for use against a target 458 miles from the base. This amount of ammunition could be increased proportionately as the conditions were altered by using a nearer base, or by proceeding at a slower and therefore more economical speed, &c.
It is noteworthy that although the German airships were expected to act as scouts in the North Sea they do not appear to have accomplished anything in this direction. Possibly this has been due to the fear of attack by our men-of-war or aircraft if the movements were made in daytime, when alone they would be useful for this purpose. What happened during the Christmas Day affair, when, as the official report said, "a novel combat" ensued between the most modern cruisers on the one hand and the enemy's aircraft and submarines on the other, would not tend to lessen this apprehension. On the other hand, the greater stability of the atmosphere at night makes navigation after dark easier, and I believe that it has been usual in all countries for airships to make their trial trips at night.
Radius of Action of a Modern Zeppelin
The above outline map, which we reproduce from "The Naval Annual," shows in the dotted circle the comparative radius of action of a modern Zeppelin at half-power—about 36 knots speed—with other types of air machines, assuming her to be based on Cologne. It is estimated that aircraft of this type, with a displacement of about 22 tons, could run for 60 hours at half-speed, and cover a distance equivalent to about 2160 sea miles. This would represent the double voyage, out and home, from Cologne well to the north of the British Isles, to Petrograd, to Athens, or to Lisbon. The inner circle shows the radius of action of a Parseval airship at half-power—about 30 knots—based on Farnborough, and the small inner circle represents the radius of action of a hydro-aeroplane based on the Medway.]
It is customary also for the airships to carry, in addition to explosive and incendiary bombs, others which on being dropped throw out a light and thereby help to indicate to the vessel above the object which it is desired to aim at. Probably some of the bombs which were thrown in Norfolk were of this character. It is understood that all idea of carrying an armament on top of the Zeppelins has now been abandoned, and it is obvious that if searchlight equipment or guns of any sort were carried the useful weight for bombs would have to be reduced unless the range of action was diminished. It will have been noticed that the Zeppelins which came on Tuesday appear to have been anxious to get back before daylight, which looks as if they expected to be attacked if they were seen, as it is fairly certain they would have been.
Assuming the raid of Tuesday to have been in the nature of a trial trip, it is rather curious that it was not made before. Apparently the Zeppelins can only trust themselves to make a raid of this description in very favorable circumstances. Strong winds, heavy rain, or even a damp atmosphere are all hindrances to be considered. That there will be more raids is fairly certain, but there cannot be many nights when the Germans can hope to have a repetition of the conditions of weather and darkness which prevailed this week. It should be possible, more or less, to ascertain the nights in every month in which, given other suitable circumstances, raids are likely to be made. In view of the probability that the attacks made by British aviators on the Zeppelin bases at Düsseldorf and Friedrichshafen caused a delay in the German plans for making this week's attack, it would appear that the most effective antidote would be a repetition of such legitimate operations.
below, 1. Berlin's view of the Kaiser's trip on his birthday: January 27, 1915.
2. England's views a discrepancy between how Germany appears (inset) and how Germany thinks it appears.
3. Italy comments on the Kaiser's ambitions.
With a jack-in-the-box that his son loves.
for all too narrow was the scanty plank
hence both fall headlong, and the deafening sound
re-echoed vaulted skies and the grassy blank
So rang our stream, when from the heavenly sphere
was hurled the suns ill-fated charioteer