Monday, October 03, 2005

Ahhhh. . .Relaxing Sunday

I had a pretty relaxing Sunday. I woke up and finished Isaac Asimov's Foundation's Edge, forth in his Foundation series of books. I still have Foundation and Earth, Prelude to Foundation and Forward the Foundation. On top of that, Asimov wrote a bunch of other novels in the same universe, some of which I've already read and didn't know all ended up in that same universe. Seriously, Asimov would have been at home with a lot of comic book writers, having all these stories and such connected and interacting, especially with his ideas threading through all of them. This method reminds me of the same technique used by Robert Heinlein of having all these same characters in a whole bunch of different novels. I really like this huge great universe and world creating because I get to know all these characters and settings so much better. I also have a tendency to get attached to characters, fictional worlds and such. Seriously, I felt a huge loss when I first finished reading J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings.

I enjoyed Foundation's Edge much more than the previous books in the Foundation series. I felt that I could connect with the characters more. They felt more like people rather than just characters acting out a clever plot and solving a mystery. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed reading the first three books of the series and figuring out the mysteries, but I really liked how this book stuck with the same cast of characters, had them interact with each other and, well, present themselves to the reader as somewhat fleshed out people. I also enjoy that I didn't guess the over arching resolution or reason for all the gallavanting around the universe but that I had caught onto who the "double agents" were. I also liked the playing with his ideas in the realms of science, history, mythology and the ways tha they all interact. Even though past readers complain that Foundation and Earth, as the last sequel, doesn't satisfingly conclude the series because Asimov brings up a whole bunch of new ideas at the end of the novel (much like in a lot of his novels, it seems), I really look forward to reading it and getting more exposed to these new ideas.

I really must get going, but I also want to bring up some other ways that we create community in today's world, or maybe in the recent past. I remember something like ten or eleven years ago, I started going to raves, checking out the rave and techno Websites like Hyperreal, signing up for e-mail bulletins for the raves around the area, listening to techno shows on the local college radio station, visiting the techno stores and picking up flyers and reading the techno/rave newsgroups.

I also did a fair bit of the same with the punk, hardcore and straightedge communities in the local area, and a little bit with the "militant" vegan subculture. It generally happened during my teenage and young adult/college years, but the experiences leave indelible marks on my emotional memory and experiences. The same thing goes with 'zines and the culture around them in the Boston area at around that time.

In the long run, though, the rave subculture/community probably affected me the most. I even had made a friend through a techno newsgroup who had lived in Amsterdam for awhile then moved to Australia with his family but stopped over in Massachusetts to visit me and my group of friends at the time. In the end, he decided that he should be a she, changed their name then fell off the face of the Earth for all that I'm concerned. We had a bit of a falling out at the time regarding how he/she treated people around him/her at that time and the sureness that he/she had about everything at the time, but that's a normal part of human relations. Still, it just strikes me as something amazing that I made friends with someone in Amsterdam, became pretty close and that he visited me on the way to moving to another country, all because we enjoyed the same music (well, part of the way we started our friendship was his strong feelings against certain subgenres that I liked and me challenging his right to have such strong criticism about the music) and something of the same culture. We ended up having somewhat similar ways of associating with people and also had a lot of the same interests in book genres (even though he was way ahead of me on the Dune series of books by Frank Herbert), but we wouldn't have known a lot of that stuff about each other if we hadn't gotten ourselves involved in the techno/rave community, even though we both would probably have been considered fringe members of it.

The rave community had an interesting acronym: PLUR, Peace, Love, Unity and Respect. Back then, it felt like it meant something, even though nowadays, from what I've seen of the techno/rave community in the Northeast United States, the acronym may exist, it doesn't feel like the same flamboyant, pretty inclusive, expressive and freeing of a community. Nowadays, it feels like a young street culture, if anything, even though, then, it had the start of that feeling with the same styles and dance styles and such. Nowadays, though, it feels like the flamboyance and the attempt at creating an expressive and inclusive community has been nudged out of the way for the street culture that has gotten involved in the community because it's what the people in their situation do, getting involved in this particular community, but I guess I don't feel the energy of the PLUR rave community and the energy of the desire of creating a community. I guess it feels like the community has become a second priority whereas the creation of a community felt like something of a first priority in the day that I went to the raves and felt myself as part of this rave/techno community.

I feel as if I'm butchering the whole thing. I don't feel like I've given either the now of the rave community or the then of the community much justice. In the long run, I was generally something of an outsider for both times. I will admit that I really believed in the PLUR of the rave community back in the day and that I pictured something of a utopian, or at a least a Temporary Autonomous Zone that had the potential to reach some critical mass that would affect the world and possibly bring it together, similar, I guess, to the way that hippies wanted in the Age of Aquarius (not so sure that Wikipedia has the hippie sentiment on it, but Wikipedia is generally a good place to start with these things). Looking back, I know that I over estimated the power of the rave/techno culture and PLUR, but I believe that it had something. Something great could have come out of it and proably still can. Possibly, I could look back on it, do some more critical thinking about it, try do the communities justice and try to get something positive and constructive out of the techno/rave "movement." I could probably do the same with the punk, hardcore and straightedge subcultures.

Someday, I would like to try taking on such a project and do something constructive with it.

Has anyone else had strong experiences with some kind of community and not mind sharing it?

Thank you. Goodnight.


Little Miss X said...

It could be that there are other forces at work. My rather limited experience was in high school in the late 80's/early 90's and what was considered "Alternative." The very first concert I went to was Midnight Oil, probably in '89-'90. The mosh pit was an incredible experience; for that brief time, I ceased to be an individual. I was the whole audience. Any assholes who well, started acting like assholes, were swiftly put in their place by other members of the audience. I've been to a lot of other mosh pits since and none ever came close to that. My personal take on it is that over the course of the '90s, subcultures became commercial, so that we now have Hot Topic and you can buy into whatever subculture you want to dabble with, and it's all cool. These subcultures and their trappings have become much more accepted that what they used to be. One element that can help to cement a community is persecution of some sort. I know there was an element of that for the alternative thing, I'm guessing it was an element back in the day for the techno thing as well. If commercialsim does not kill the sense of community within a subculture, it has to put a strain on it, but it definitly kills the persecution element of being "outsider."

Shaw Israel Izikson said...

Me and a bunch of friends moshed a few times to Shiny Happy People...does that make us a community of Shiny People, Happy People, or just people?