Manual Travelers Respite: Part I - Devolution of the Species

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Contents:
  1. You Say You Want a Devolution?
  2. You Say You Want a Devolution?
  3. Underbelly by G Johanson - Read Online
  4. How Two Academics Are Trying to Break the Outrage Cycle

You Say You Want a Devolution?

Think about it. Picture it. Rewind any other year chunk of 20th-century time. You can keep doing it and see that the characteristic surfaces and sounds of each historical moment are absolutely distinct from those of 20 years earlier or later: the clothes, the hair, the cars, the advertising—all of it. The modern sensibility has been defined by brief stylistic shelf lives, our minds trained to register the recent past as old-fashioned.

Go deeper and you see that just 20 years also made all the difference in serious cultural output. And 20 years after Hemingway published his war novel For Whom the Bell Tolls a new war novel, Catch, made it seem preposterously antique. Now try to spot the big, obvious, defining differences between and Movies and literature and music have never changed less over a year period.

It was an epiphany. A man or woman on the street in any year in the 20th century groomed and dressed in the manner of someone from 27 years earlier would look like a time traveler, an actor in costume, a freak. Men wore neckties more frequently. Fashionable women exposed less of their breasts and bra straps, and rarely wore ultra-high-heeled shoes. We were thinner, and fewer of us had tattoos or piercings.

Not coincidentally, it was exactly 20 years ago that Francis Fukuyama published The End of History, his influential post-Cold War argument that liberal democracy had triumphed and become the undisputed evolutionary end point toward which every national system was inexorably moving: fundamental political ferment was over and done.


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Maybe yes, maybe no. But in the arts and entertainment and style realms, this bizarre Groundhog Day stasis of the last 20 years or so certainly feels like an end of cultural history. How did we get here? Coming off the s, that time of relentless and discombobulating avant-gardism, when everything looked and sounded perpetually new new new, cultural creators—designers, artists, impresarios—began looking backward for inspiration.

Some 60s counterculturalists had dabbled in the 19th century—the Victoriana of Sgt. Even the one big new Hollywood species of the mids and early 80s, the special-effects adventure and science-fiction blockbusters by Steven Spielberg and George Lucas, was a re-invention of the B movies of the 40s and 50s. Anti -postmodern architects in turn designed buildings that evoked the styles of modernism when modernism had been new, and architecture devolved into a battle between two fantasias—nostalgia for the 19th and 18th centuries versus nostalgia for the midth-century avant-garde.

At the same time, fine art that recognizably depicted people, the way all art had before the 20th century, became respectable and even fashionable again. Ditto for orchestral music, where seriousness and ambition were no longer equated with dissonance and unlikability. And in pop music, thanks to sampling, even the last genuinely new form, hip-hop, made an explicit and unapologetic point of recycling earlier songs. Which means the very idea of datedness has lost the power it possessed during most of our lifetimes. The hottest ticket to any straight play last year?

Gatz, a six-hour verbatim theatricalization of The Great Gatsby. Look at people on the street and in malls—jeans and sneakers remain the standard uniform for all ages, as they were in , , and Nobody has the wit or gumption to stand up and lift the stylus. Why is this happening? Or not. After all, such a sensibility shift has happened again and again over the last several thousand years, that moment when all great cultures—Egyptian, Roman, Mayan, Islamic, French, Ottoman, British—slide irrevocably into an enervated late middle age.

You can see a corollary dynamic operating in politics as well. Lower Taxes.

You Say You Want a Devolution?

But now, suddenly, that saying has acquired an alternative and nearly opposite definition: the more certain things change for real technology, the global political economy , the more other things style, culture stay the same. But wait! And why did this happen? Among middle-class people, after all, gays formed the original two-income households and were the original gentrifiers, the original body cultists and dapper health-club devotees, the trendy homemakers, the refined, childless world travelers.

Likewise the artists, not so much because we loved art but because we envied the way their lives looked. In the 80s, the SoHo idea—a tatty, disused urban stretch of old warehouses and factories transformed into a neighborhood of loft apartments and chic shops and restaurants—became a redevelopment prototype and paradigm, rolling out like a franchise operation in cities across America and around the world.

Tastefulness scaled. After a little while the doctor introduced his nephews, who were warmly greeted by the great explorer; he had read of their journeys in the far East and in other lands, and expressed his pleasure at meeting them personally. As for Frank and Fred, they were overjoyed at the introduction and the cordial manner in which they were received. They thanked Mr. Stanley for the kind words he had used in speaking of their travels, which had been of little consequence compared with his own.

Frank added that he hoped some day to be able to cross the African continent; the way had been opened by Mr. Stanley, and, with the facilities which the latter had given to travellers, the journey would be far easier of accomplishment than it was twenty or even ten years ago. Then followed a desultory conversation, of which no record has been preserved; other passengers came up to speak to Mr.

Stanley, and the party separated.

Underbelly by G Johanson - Read Online

As the steamer passed into the open ocean most of the people on deck disappeared below for the double reason that there was a cold wind from the eastward and—breakfast was on the table. Stanley is! He is dignified without being haughty, and friendly without familiarity. Before the introduction I was afraid to meet him, but found myself quite at ease before we had been talking a minute. I'm [Pg 15] not surprised to hear how much those who know him are attached to him, nor at the influence he possesses over the people among whom his great work has been performed. Livingstone in the interior of Africa.


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  8. He found the famous missionary; but when he came back, and told the story of what he had done, a great many people refused to believe him, because they considered the feat impossible for a newspaper correspondent. He came out of Africa at the same point where he entered it, and it was said by some that he had never ventured farther than a few miles from the coast. This made him angry, and the next time he went on a tour of exploration in Africa he made sure that the same criticism would be impossible.

    He descended that [Pg 16] great river, which no white man had ever done before him, and passed through dangers and difficulties such as few travellers of modern times have known. And, besides—". Before Fred could finish the sentence he had begun the Doctor joined them, and asked Frank where he had put the parcel of books that they had selected to read during the voyage.

    We will arrange our things this forenoon, and I will open the parcel at once. Now that Mr.

    Stanley is with us, you will read it again with much greater interest than before. The youths were pleased with the suggestion, which they accepted at once. Fred laughingly remarked that there might be danger of a quarrel between them as to who should have the first privilege of reading the book. Frank thought they could get over the difficulty by dividing the two volumes between them, but he admitted that the one who read the second volume in advance of the first would be likely to have his mind confused as to the exact course of the exploration which the book described.

    Doctor Bronson said he was reminded of an anecdote he once heard [Pg 17] about a man who always read books with a mark, which he carefully inserted at the end of each reading. He was going through the "Life of Napoleon" at one time, and for three evenings in succession his room-mate slyly set back the mark to the starting-point.

    At the end of the third evening he asked the reader what he thought of Napoleon. While the party were laughing over the anecdote Mr. Stanley came up, and said he wished to have a share in the fun. The Doctor repeated the story, and explained how it had been called to his mind. Stanley, "it would be very unfortunate for Masters Frank and Fred to get the story of the Dark Continent doubled up in the manner you suggest. I propose that they shall study it together, one reading aloud to the other, and, as the entire book is too much for the limited time of this voyage, they will be obliged to omit portions of chapters here and there.

    The readings can take place daily during the afternoon and evening, and the youth who is to read can devote the forenoon to selecting the parts of the chapters he will suppress and those which are to be given to the listeners. I will assist him in his selections from time to time, and, with due diligence, the book will be finished before we reach Southampton. It was unanimously voted that the plan was an excellent one, and the boys immediately proceeded to carry it out. The volumes were brought forth, and Frank retired to a corner of the saloon to make a selection for the first afternoon's reading.

    Stanley sat with him a short time, marking several pages and paragraphs, and then went on deck, where he joined Doctor Bronson in a brief promenade.

    Meantime Fred busied himself with an examination of several other books of African travel; he was evidently familiar with their contents, as he ran through the pages with great rapidity, and marked numerous passages, with the evident intention of referring to them in the course of the time devoted to what we may call the public readings.

    There was an intermission of labor towards the middle of the day, and at this time Frank and Fred made the acquaintance of two or three other youths of about their age.

    How Two Academics Are Trying to Break the Outrage Cycle

    When the latter learned of the proposed scheme, they asked permission to be allowed to hear how the Dark Continent was traversed, and their request was readily granted. Consequently the audience that assembled in the afternoon comprised some six or eight persons, including Mr. Stanley and Doctor Bronson. Neither [Pg 18] of the gentlemen remained there through the whole afternoon, partly for the reason that they were both familiar with the narrative and partly because they did not wish to seem otherwise than confident that the boys knew how to manage matters for themselves.

    This kind of work was not altogether new to Frank and Fred, as many of our readers are aware; and in all their previous experiences they had acquitted themselves admirably. When everything was ready Frank began with the opening chapter of "Through the Dark Continent" and read as follows:. He was dead! He had died by the shores of Lake Bemba, on the threshold of the dark region he had wished to explore! The work he had promised me to perform was only begun when death overtook him! I was one of the pall-bearers in Westminster Abbey, and when I had seen the coffin lowered into the grave, and had heard the first handful of earth thrown over it, I walked away sorrowing over the fate of David Livingstone.

    I thus became possessed of over one hundred and thirty books upon Africa, which I studied with the zeal of one who had a living interest in the subject, and with the understanding of one who had been already four times on that continent. I knew what had been accomplished by African explorers, and I knew how much of the dark interior was still unknown to the world. Until late hours I sat up, inventing and planning, sketching out routes, laying out lengthy lines of possible exploration, noting many suggestions which the continued study of my project created.

    I also drew up lists of instruments and other paraphernalia that would be required to map, lay out, and describe the new regions to be traversed. While I was discussing journalistic enterprise in general with one of the staff, the editor entered. We spoke of Livingstone and the unfinished task remaining behind him. In reply to an eager remark which I made, he asked:. We know nothing scarcely—except what Speke has sketched out—of Lake Victoria; we do not even know whether it consists of one or many lakes, and therefore the sources of the Nile are still unknown.

    Moreover, the western half of the African continent is still a white blank.