Friday, March 21, 2008

Do pubescents dream of electric sheep?

What, early on, shapes our beliefs? Why, contra parental values, prevailing current opinion & a reasonably straightforward upbringing, should I have believed that left-wing politics—socialism, if you like—was the greater respecter of human values, that capital punishment, nuclear capability, totalitarianism, armed conflict were wrong. No-one I knew shared these values, certainly not my parents. There was no television, the most radical films I’d seen were Charlie Chaplin’s The Great Dictator & Modern Times, DC comics hadn’t reached New Zealand, there were no alternative newspapers, TIME told us it told the truth, rock ‘n roll hadn’t beaten a path to my door, wasn’t even beating yet.

What I got from my parents was a love of reading. What I got from my brother, twelve or so years older & away from home, was the collection of science fiction that he’d left behind. What I got from that were alternative views of the world, supposedly the future but written from the perspective of the present.

There was a dichotomy of perspective. The fascism of people like Robert Heinlein; the socialism of writers like Philip K. Dick, Fritz Leiber, C.M. Kornbluth & Theodore Sturgeon. The political tags came later, when my reading widened & I recognized them for what they were. The preferred beliefs stuck with me immediately.

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