The SFFaudio Podcast #334 – AUDIOBOOK/READALONG: The Birth-Mark by Nathaniel Hawthorne

September 14, 2015 by · Leave a Comment
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Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #334 – The Birth-Mark by Nathaniel Hawthorne; read by Fred Heimbaugh. This is an unabridged reading of the story (50 minutes) followed by a discussion of it. Participants in the discussion include Jesse and Fred.

Talked about on today’s show:
The Pioneer, March 1843, a Hawthorne Poe fest, contemporaries, The Scarlet Letter, a quote by Poe about Hawthorne, the CBS Radio Mystery Theater, well known?, why this story Fred?, he’s obsessed with sin, sociopaths, trigger warnings, neurosis, shame, luck, shaped by sin, a mark upon the family, subconscious Freudian messages, Commentary Magazine, Why College Kids Are Avoiding the Study of Literature by Gary Saul Morson, textual density, vocab, Lovecraft poems, Fungi From Yuggoth poems, harbours, kids are now shuttled between school the home and the mall, ranting against Hawthorne, The House Of The Seven Gables, revolutions in 20th century literature, Ernest Hemingway, the show don’t tell revolution, Hawthorne is the telling-est teller who ever telled, the right attitude toward sin, the two facedness of people, Hawthorne is attacking late stage decadent Puritanism, a homosexual vibe, what is the lesson?, science reaches too far?, Gothic horror, the evil wizard or the mad scientist, science as the channel to unlimited power, elixirs, potions, not even futuristic, Georgiana, Aminadab?, where is this story set?, Aylmer’s castle, Aylmer’s wealth, a compartmentalized life, from the third person POV, the host narration, obsession, the left side, the sinister side, she’s been marked, in the dream, chemical means, pre-Darwin, “I’ve got these old books”, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, a natural philosopher, science vs. alchemy vs. magic, Isaac Newton, almost as if he was Ben Franklin, electricity, many suitors, Aylmer’s wooing, is Aylmer gaslighting Georgiana?, she’s reading, a Medieval heroine, a character of of Greek mythology, is a sex-change story?, is this a boob-job story?, envy, the tips of two small fingers, she’s compared to a marble statue, small pox scars, Marilyn Monroe‘s beauty mark, does positioning matter?, Supernatural Horror And Literature by H.P. Lovecraft, a meditation on obsession, many uninteresting analysis, so little action, beyond the sexual interpretation, Hawthorne doesn’t seem all that prudish, how far can you go in purist of perfection in a fallen world, a mark of original sin, wanting knowledge (of good and evil?), the sin of disobedience, Frankenstein and Aylmer are reading the same books, the process of creating a man in Frankenstein, the lightning bolt, Luigi Galvani, grave-robbing, Paracelsus, the gold thing is your way of getting funding, when writing a grant…, this might lead to a cure for cancer(!), alchemy as a religion, The Cask Of Amontillado, Eric S. Rabkin, “the niter, it grows”, Montresor or Fortunato, niter, growing human shaped things inside of bottles, poisons, psychology and the occult, the difference between alchemy and science is openness, the Royal Society, Harry Potter’s school, there have to be muggles, magically oblivious, J.K. Rowling, natural greed, the ethic of sharing knowledge, France’s version of the Royal Society, like the obsession with “open source” or the “public domain”, The Oval Portrait by Edgar Allan Poe, sooo lifelike, sooo beautifully painted, Gothic horror, the evil mad scientist is destroyed by the power he unleashes, The Portrait Of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, the ending, what is Hawthorne saying?, was Aylmer’s attempt doomed from the beginning?, Jesse’s mom, one of the most important powers of a teacher, she has “THE VOICE”, Muad’dib (Paul Atredies), Steve Jobs’ reality distortion field, a profound revelation, philosophy and critical thinking, vitamins are bullshit, fish oil woke Fred’s brain, North America has the world’s most expensive urine, religion wants you to take it on authority, bronze age holy texts, religion as book club where you only ever read one book (or just listen to a guy who did), cynicism or wisdom, loyalty to the organized religion of your family, inherited religions, fundamentalist belief systems, the narcissism of small differences, splintering, revolting revolutionaries, purity of doctrine, young earth creationists, Catholicism as an almost ethnicity (an identity), Hawthorne as a stopgap between H.G. Wells and Mary Shelley, the murky origins of Science Fiction, Dante, Lucifer frozen in the ice, a Gothic ghost story, Frankenstein’s obsession is with defeating death, too in love with science, Hawthorne’s message is like: “don’t drink too much”, Greek symposia, what really happened at a Greek symposium, “write drunk and edit sober”, The Odyssey, mixing water with wine, getting plastered is a sign on unmanning, the Greek obsession was with finding the moderation between too little and too much, what was Hephzibah’s sin?, her sin is being too worried about sin, “you will eat blood”, public shaming is a little much, be moderate with your casting of sin, John Wesley, a healthy functioning society, wealth corruption, falling into decadence, the protestant work ethic is kicking-in, Guggenheim, ransoming the grandchild, leaving it all to art, Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller, Fred’s all time favourite Science Fiction novel: The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson, how do we raise the next generation?, a supercharged Kindle, matter compilers, Star Trek‘s replicator, eating green sludge, window panes made out of pure diamond, handmade hipsters, how you raise the next generation in a wealthy society, we are unimaginably wealthy, are Japan’s young people uninterested in sex?, Richard Dawkins on Twitter, The Last Question by Isaac Asimov, Gothic-y, Science-y, Microcosmic God by Theodore Sturgeon, a great inventor, Neoterics, he’s stealing their ideas, the ultimate mad scientist story, following in the tradition, somatoypes, ectomorph (Aylmer), mesomorph (Aminidab), endomorph (Jesse), it’s a scam!, Hillary Clinton, the Ronald Reagans of the world, this is astrology, people think that once you’ve got a word for something you understand it, wearing the mask long enough…, IQ tests, quantification, any time we think we understand the most complex thing in the universe…, there really is a subconscious, tweeting dreams, psychology, the book club with only one book in it, The Great Courses (The Teaching Company), Eric S. Rabkin, survey courses, kooky specializations, the best way to learn, the perennial student, taught not to learn, philosophy of art, credentialism, Jesse can guess the exact words in a student’s vocabulary, guess your weight or age, how Jesse gets work, gaming credentialism, no high school diploma, a contempt for institutionalized learning, a play-by-the-rules personality, grade inflation, what did Mussolini do?, intimidation vs. cultivation, give the students the experience of reading, reading as a meeting of minds, defending a dissertation, essays, we’re obsessed with essays (for the wrong reason), ohhh spoilers!, the big problem with almost any media, “I don’t want to spoil it for you.”, testing is easier, a kind of objectivity, don’t blame the actors for shitty Hollywood movies, status is society, education as the cultivation of minds, there aren’t enough people who are willing to rebel!

The Birth-Mark by Nathaniel Hawthorne - modified John Collier's "Laboratory", 1895

The Birthmark by Nathaniel Hawthorne - illustration by Lisa K. Weber

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #113

June 20, 2011 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #113 – Jesse and Eric S. Rabkin talk about Stupidity and Intelligence in Science Fiction (and Fantasy).

Talked about on today’s show:
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Mickey Mouse, Fantasia, Christopher Marlowe‘s The Tragicall History of the Life and Death of Doctor Faustus, Brothers Grimm Clever Hans (the fairy tale), Clever Hans (the horse), War With The Newts by Karel Čapek, Excerpt from (Book Two – Up the Ladder of Civilisation), trephination, “there are some things man was not meant to know”, evil science and evil scientists, R.U.R., Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Frankenstein is an egotist whereas the creature wants community, Chapter 11 of Frankenstein, intellect vs. empathy, “One man’s life or death were but a small price to pay for the acquirement of knowledge which I sought.”, the ideology of intelligence is suspect, Gulliver’s Travels, Laputa, philosophers, The Clouds by Aristophanes, “head in the clouds”, BBC Radio dramatization of Lysistrata, The Black Cloud by Fred Hoyle, “the big bang”, telepathy, Gregg Margarite, “Genius in not a biological phenomenon.”, “stupid people can have smart babies and smart people can have stupid babies”, eugenics, sterilization programs, “we know so little about what we mean by intelligence”, “we breed against the outliers”, “If I see further than others it is because I stand on the shoulders of giants”, Sir Isaac Newton, Newton vs. Leibniz, Darwin vs. Wallace vs. Darwin’s grandfather, Robert A. Heinlein, “steam engine time”, Columbus and the egg, humans (persons) can compound our intelligence, Flowers For Algernon by Daniel Keyes, Charly, “we shouldn’t define humanity by our intelligence”, The Time Machine by H.G. Wells, flowers from Weena, “fundamental humanity has to do with emotion and not intelligence”, He, She and It by Marge Piercy, programming a robot with stories, Yod is a robot-like golem, “it was immoral to create a conscious weapon”, The Doomsday Book by Connie Willis, Eric is the world’s least reliable critic of The Doomsday Book, The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells, philosophy of science, the meaning of weapon, We by Yevgeny Zamyatin, tool vs. weapon, “we have one mad scientist after another”, Gojira!, Ozymandias, Watchmen, Understand by Ted Chiang, “talking to babies”, “if everyone in the world around you is an idiot…what kind of relationship can you have with the world”, His Masters Voice by Stanisław Lem, Hogarth is an incredibly intelligence person, Edgar Allan Poe, Audible Frontier’s Solaris: The Definite Edition, The Futurological Congress, Isaac Asimov, Eric puts on his professorial hat, nous, the etymology of the word “intelligence”, Asimov reads between the lines for you, the etymology of the word “stupid”, what’s with the word “sentient” in Science Fiction?, Beyond Lies The Wub by Philip K. Dick, ansible, “sentience is the bag that we put all our coding for equally human”, was Larry Niven the prime promulgator of the SF version of “sentience”?, The Island Of Doctor Moreau by H.G. Wells, “words are a map on the world”, The Time Machine, evolution and the clash of the classes, Wells respects the intelligence of his readers, Morlocks vs. Eloi, the King James version of the Bible, “Eloi Eloi Lama Sabachthani“, Hugo Gernsback, Amazing Stories, “whizz bang sensofwunda”, The New Accelerator by H.G. Wells, “the warp drive is not important”, “the ansible is not important”, “we are all time travelers”, “in Wells’ greatest works he leaves some part of the story open”, “but whether this was a reprieve for us or them only time will tell”, Experiment In Autobiography by H.G. Wells, The Gods Themselves by Isaac Asimov, “Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain”, Friedrich Schiller, reporters became cynical now they just go see what’s happening on Facebook, The Marching Morons by C.M. Kornbluth is public domain, much of Kornbluth is PD because he died so young, The Space Merchants by Frederik Pohl and C.M. Kornbluth, Little Black Bag by C.M. Kornbluth, Idiocracy, stupid people have lots of (stupid) babies (?), what’s wrong with The Marching Morons?, PLENTY!, “The Marching Chinese”, Thomas Robert Malthus, eugenics and dysgenics, what ties do genetics and intelligence have?, a very high fraction of American presidents have been left handed, immigrant groups produce terrific comedians, Microcosmic God by Theodore Sturgeon, storing up ideas for my “word hoard”.

The Marching Chinese

Posted by Jesse Willis