Friend of Infocult Jesse Walker reports on reading a very rare Gothic novel. It's Julia and the Illuminated Baron (Sally Sayward Wood, 1800), an early American tale about the Illuminati.
Let Jesse summarize:
Coming in the wake of the Illuminati panic of 1798, in which Federalists fretted that the secret society was aiming "to subvert and overturn our holy religion and our free and excellent government," Wood weds those anxieties to a Gothic melodrama set in pre-revolutionary France, featuring an Illuminatus who holds a young woman captive and plots against her virtue. Wood's Illuminati are a depraved band of nature-worshippers, seizing personal pleasures as they prepare for the Jacobin apocalypse. At one point Wood has a woman describe the order's initiation ceremony: "disrobed of all coverings except a vest of silver gauze, I am to be exposed to the homage of all the society present upon a marble pedestal placed behind which sacrifices are to be offered." The character adds, "This sect increases daily. They will in a few years overturn Europe and lay France in ruins."
unearths a genealogy of post-cinematic spectatorship in horror movies, thrillers, and other exploitation genres. From Night of the Living Dead (1968) through Paranormal Activity (2009), these movies pursue their spectator from one platform to another, adapting to suit new exhibition norms and cultural concerns in the evolution of the video subject.
Jesse Walker looks back at The Stepford Wives, 40 years after the novel appears. It's a thoughtful, clever look at the book, the movie, and the times.
Then there were a bunch of TV sequels:
The story that resulted had enough staying power to spawn an entire franchise, with the Stepford Wives movie inspiring three made-for-TV follow-ups. Revenge of the Stepford Wives (1980) changed the scenario somewhat: The town’s women are drugged and brainwashed rather than replaced by robots. The story ends with two liberated women seizing the means of mind control and inducing a Stepford riot. In The Stepford Children (1987) the conspiracy is back to using androids, and with The Stepford Husbands (1996) we get the inevitable table turning.
One of the key components to a Choose Your Own Adventure book is the series of death pages. (If you haven't played/read one, these are pages to which you turn when selecting a seemingly nonlethal choice.)
A new book charges that the internet ruining boys. Specifically, "Video game and porn addictions" are bringing about The Demise of Guys (2012).
From the TED Books catalog copy,
excessive use of videogames and online porn is creating a generation of shy and risk-adverse guys who are unable (and unwilling) to navigate the complexities and risks inherent to real-life relationships, school and employment.
More, "our young men are suffering from a new form of 'arousal addiction'".
I haven't grabbed a copy yet, but this CNN editorial by the authors looks descriptive. First, porn:
A recent study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that "regular porn users are more likely to report depression and poor physical health than nonusers are. ... The reason is that porn may start a cycle of isolation. ... Porn may become a substitute for healthy face-to-face interactions, social or sexual."
Similarly, video games also go wrong when the person playing them is desensitized to reality and real-life interactions with others.Violence in video games is often synonymous with success. Children with more of a propensity for aggression are more attracted to violent video media, but violent media, in turn, can also make them more aggressive.
So far this seems like a mix of classic fearsome digital media discourse: games cause violent behavior, porn saps real life intercourse and relationships, children (boys) are at risk of corruption, medical language (addiction), a high firewall between virtual and offline lives.
Some classic Ambrose Bierce stories have new, free readings for your downloading and listening pleasure. Libribox has unleased two:
Can Such Things Be? has some classic stories, like early robot tale "Moxon's Master". Plus there's "The Damned Thing," "An Inhabitant of Carcosa", and more dark, sarcastic goodies. Roger Melin offers a solid reading, with a solid, deep voice.
In The Midst of Life focuses on the American Civil War, with horror favorites like "An Occurrence At Owl Creek Bridge" and "Chickamauga". David Wales reads quietly, thoughtfully, with care.
I wish I had a better sense of why people don't love these stories more. Perhaps southerners prefer less horrific tales about their Lost Cause, and yanks really never cared that deeply after 1875 or so.
If you don't know Librivox, it's a superb thing. Free, volunteer-read podcasts, sans advertising.