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STRANGER in a STRANGE LAND

Discussion in 'Books' started by RonPrice, Sep 29, 2013.

  1. RonPrice

    RonPrice Mr. RonPrice

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2008
    Location:
    George Town Tasmania Australia
    STRANGERS AND FRONTIERS

    Part 1:

    During my early to late childhood(3-12) and my early and middle adolescence(13-17) Robert Heinlein was working on his book Stranger in a Strange Land. In June 1961 it was finally published. It is arguably the most famous science fiction book ever written and the first to be a national best-seller. In 1963 I was just beginning a reading program that would only end with my death or some physical and/or mental incapacity. It was a reading program which, in the next fifty years(1963-2013), from the age of 18 to 68, would keep me busy with a guesstimated 40,000 books read and partly read and some 100,000 articles read or partly read. This of course is, as I say, only a guestimation. But during those years, that half century, I hardly touched science fiction. Perhaps that was the main reason my own effort to write a sci-fi book was unsuccessful.

    Heinlein’s book was a challenge to social mores. While Heinlein was writing his book I became first associated with and then a member of a religion which also challenged social mores, and claimed to be the newest of the Abrahamic religions. Heinlein’s book is also about a utopia that cannot, could not, be achieved. The religion I had joined in 1959 and pioneered-traveled for in the years 1962 to 2012, was often accused of being utopian, unrealistic or, as the critics of Heinlein’s book put it, “outside the bounds of psychological realism.” This was Heinlein’s first venture into a more highbrow literary landscape and I was beginning my lifelong journey on another highbrow literary landscape in many other genres.

    Part 2:

    Heinlein had a period of 22 years, from 1939 to 1961 of writing juvenile novels. I had a period of 22 years, from 1961 to 1983, of writing juvenile essays and poems. Heinlein had an obsession with privacy in those years and the topics he wrote about, like a trip to the moon, were often considered surprising if not preposterous. My enthusiasm for privacy came much later in the 21st century, but many of the ideas I hypothesized in my writing were considered unrealistic if not preposterous. My experiences in the realm of ideas gave me a sense of communion with Heinlein who died in 1988 just as my life as a poet was really beginning after a 25 year hiatus. For both his work and mine there is an extensive self-referentialism; for Heinlein there is an autobiographical, self-parodying element; for me there is self-parody, self-criticism, self-analysis, self-love, person-centred and existential therapy, gestalt therapy and behavioural therapy, among other efforts to heal and endure.


    One writer saw Heinlein as a modern pioneer in the Turner tradition, the tradition of history writing associated with the Frontier Thesis or Turner Thesis. That thesis is the argument advanced by historian Frederick Jackson Turner in 1893 that the origin of the distinctive egalitarian, democratic, aggressive, and innovative features of the American character has been the American frontier experience. That same writer thought Heinlein would have been comfortable with Turner’s pioneer, frontier, thesis being the pioneer that Heinlein was in so many ways. I have found Turner’s historical pioneering analysis and backdrop to my own experience heuristic.1 -Ron Price with thanks to 1Frederick Jackson Turner, The Frontier in American History, 1893.

    Only a small fraction went pioneering
    even then, Frederick…..some thought
    your emphasis on the pioneer was, to
    say the least, exaggerated. Frederick,
    those pioneers were the genesis of the
    American dream like mine, like mine.

    Yours, like mine, was a spiritual frontier
    as was Heinlein’s, although my dream got
    little press during those first years of the
    last stage of history1 as we transformed
    the wilderness of our world and made
    an entirely different creature—a new
    race of men—each time we touched
    a new locality on this incredible earth.

    1 One of the Baha’i views of history is that it, history, entered its last stage or phase in 1963. That stage is now just 50 years old and will continue for many centuries to come.

    Ron Price
    27/6/’06 to 10/1/’13.
     

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