Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Arthur C Clarke, RIP


Another master, gone. Score one for mediocrity, for mass production, for posers and pretenders. Too bad the average schlub only knows 2001: A Space Odyssey from the film...and even then, all they know is five notes from the movie score. No one knows the marvel of the novel, the themes--melding sci fi, philosophy and religion. Yes, religion. Not the wing nut evangelical stuff, or the jihadi perversions of Islam or the dogma of the Vatican or the insouciance of conservative Judiasm. Oh much more primodial than that: there is something bigger than ouselves "out there"--you just don't need a preacher or imam or rabbi to tell you what it is. Clarke was 90 years old, stricken with polio-related and other critical maladies--and yet still writing. As with Robert Heinlein or Isaac Asimov or Ray Bradbury or even sista Octavia Bulter and weirdo Ursula LeGuin, Clarke's imagination is responsible for literary conventions that have migrated to popular culture (again, beyond sci fi). I was heartened, at least, when my text-messaging, Rihanna-listening 19 year old niece on my wife's side commented: "Didn't he, like, invent the [telecommunications] satellite?" There is hope, Arthur--see?
He lived in on a lush Sri Lankan tea plantation yet kept himself plugged into the western world; he wasn't a fan of Thatcher, Reagan or Bush/Cheney yet found folks such as Al Gore and Desmond Tutu "gimmicky." I think we all should read Childhood's End, and heed its themes.
Tell the Monolith we said hi, Arthur...and we'll be a part of it soon.

10 comments:

your brother from another mother said...

I was forced by an English teacher to read "Childhood's End" a LONG time ago. That's the one with the aliens who look like batwing demons yet are "good" right?

Glad you shout out to Octavia Butler.

Torrance Stephens bka All-Mi-T said...

now thats a loss

cpb said...

Is this death tragic for our society, art and our shrinking brains? Yes!!! But does the average person care? No!!!

Anonymous said...

The apes at the start of 2001 Space Odyssey were a preview of an Obama White House. No thanks.

Eisa said...

This is a lovely tribute.

Christopher Chambers said...

Another satisfied customer (e.g. the "anonymous" comment on the pre-humans and 2001: A Space Odyssey). Always good to see things change for the better (sarcasm alert). Accordingly, I'm not deleting the comment. Pity the fool...

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't say "Childhood's End" is the most instructive to ordinary people or world leaders. I think there are others; I'll forward them to you.

Pebbles Flintstone said...

Great tribute to a great author.

Exquisitely Black said...

Big loss, he and Octavia were two of my favorites. I believe watching 2001 Space Odyssey ignited my love for science fiction.

Anonymous said...

meh!