Every entry here since the first of the year has been directed towards resolving a single problem — but I’ve started feeling lately that I’m losing focus and need to pause and take stock.
I began with what seemed like two simple assumptions. First, that much of today’s world is the product of certain far-reaching cultural changes that occurred in the 1940s. Second, that science fiction and SF fandom were strangely central to those changes.
As soon as I began to unpack these assumptions, however, I found myself wrestling with the nature of the deep, mystical current that I’ve described as the underground stream. And at every step since, what I thought would be a simple undertaking has become increasingly complex, to the point where it seems necessary to step back and gain a broader perspective.
The best starting place may be with the deep philosophical chasm that currently runs through the heart of American society. It’s generally described as a split between conservatives and liberals, but it’s better perceived as a division between those who fear change and those who embrace it.
The roots of that split go back to the early 1940s, when a major shift in attitudes and alignments was being forged in the crucible of World War II. The right was busy dissociating itself from fascism, the left was putting distance between itself and communism, and both groups were adjusting to the prospect of a postwar world in which the United States would be a dominant global power.