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Friday, November 4, 2011

Book Report -Foundation

Foundation, by Isaac Asimov

(cue the music) wassup Braination! and now for a special literary exploration presentation of The Nook of Brainy’s Culture of Darkness Corner. Bwa haha. ha.

    Perspective is another animal 12,000 years into the future. With hundreds of quadrillions of people, statistics becomes tend to be more aggregate. Predictability emerges more clearly than we can currently understand.

    Fusing mathematics and psychology, the science of Psychohistory was discovered by Hari Seldon like electricity was discovered by Ben Franklin. I borrow that scene of American mythology because Asimov chooses an endlessly-clever narrative device to tell the tale of Foundation, while conveying the tone that this this dude -Hari- is a legend from days of yore. Speaking in mythological terms, page 1 of Foundation is an except about Hari Seldon from the 116th edition of the Encyclopedia Galactica. ANYTHING THAT ENDS IN “GALACTICA” IS COOL. This very encyclopedia is the initial goal of the protagonists in this novel, preserving knowledge, through the dark ages.

    So can 1 dude or dudette make a difference? In Foundation, 3 dudes, save the human race, over the course of 1000 years. Due to their extensive education, strategic prediction capabilities, and their ability to improvise, our 3 heroes enact their mythological sense of epic acumen through their knowledge, tactical planning skills, and their extemporaneousness. The heroes of this novel are a mathematician, a politician, and an interstellar trader; Hari Seldon, Salvor Hardin, and Hober Mallow. Each man steers their civilization throughpart of a 1000 dark-age, in order to prevent the worst-case-scenario of a 30,000 year period for the dark ages to unfurl. The heroes each aptly enact inaction and avoid violence at all costs as they react to the insecure and finicky gov’t’s and kingdoms within the surrounding Periphery, at the Galaxy’s edge.

    At the beginning of The Fellowship of the Ring (movie), Bilbo explains to Gandalf that he feels like butter spread over too much toast. This metaphor conveys the hobbit’s beleaguered state while also foreshadowing the decaying effect that the Ring will eventually inflict upon Frodo’s soul. As Foundation opens, we see Trantor, capital of the universe and the Empire, from the 1st time p.o.v. of a country bumpkin, Gaal Dornik, future apprentice of Hari Seldon. Awe struck, Gaal cannot see any dirt remaining on the overdeveloped planet, no horizon, no sky. Only man-made structures. Asimov reveals that the Empire will eventually fall because its insecure emperors must devote too many resources to planetary defense -instead of building more roads and schools.

    Trantor is an irresistible prize for any outside conquering space-horde. This idea is conveyed through the minor metaphor of some super exotic birds that this one dumb prince is famous for hunting. Their crazy value ensures their extinction. Ultimately, Trantor’s insatiable need for more imports left it too vulnerable. And this is an over-arcing metaphor in the book: Big things intrinsically decay. When an empire spreads itself too thin, it will stop investing in its infrastructure. Its trade will suffer and its economy will whither. As was also demonstrated in Baby 5, sometimes, in order to balance itself out and apply cosmic course correction, the universe must unfurl a refreshing interstellar bowel movement.

    Asimov’s answer, or solution, is to have smart people in place to save the day at the right time. As everybody knows, our education system pumps out automatons and only the elite minority are trained for leadership and innovation. We can break free from that mold. Western thinking instills in us an illusion of dualism for our world. Its is faux. The haves & the have-nots, the US & the communists, the sacred & the profane, real & surreal, the scarecrow & mrs king, the ranger & mr narn, the valiant Steelers & the peevishly evil Ravens, and yin & yang. These are all superficial dichotomies. The only real factual truth that can unite that entire set of relationships is that they are all bound by the symbol, “&.”

    We love to see things as black & white, we love to group everything in packages of, “&.” -but the Box has taught us to take that dualism and say, “NOW GET THE HELL OUTTA OUR GALAXY!” It is our responsibility to teach others how to mentally arm, spiritually fortify, and nobly save themselves, lest suffer their inevitable collective atrophy into star-bits. Hizzah.

    In todays world, take the history of the U.S. as an allegory It is interesting to note broad-stroke relations between the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd world during the past 300 hundred years. America, like their mercantilistic forefathers, has traditionally reaped and raped the 3rd world by importing mass amounts of raw materials. Just ask every equatorial island or the 50+ sub-Saharan African countries. From slaves to diamonds -the story is not pretty and it never has been. Then WWII and BOOM -no not the A-Bomb, i mean the economy skyrocketed. And while we were counting our money, the dudes running the country hatched a plan to breed a nation of consumers. Yes, everyone knows we buy tons of crap, but starting with the postwar administration of Truman, then IKE; shopping became an institution of American suburban life. A national past-time. Its scary cuz its true. Where do you think Black Friday came from, that egg was laid by dudes in suits. Economists and corporate talking heads. This was never a big problem because all the while, the U.S. had been producing and innovating technology...and then the tech bubble burst....and now...we are exporting food and raw materials to China and they are producing and innovating the world’s technology. “Irony is a bitch,” -didn't that Russian Earth-president read from the TelePrompTer during Rising Star?.  Well, on Lost, Ben Linus once said, “Fate is a fickle bitch.” And so today...what is happening...The proverbial Frankenstein that is our economy is currently bubbling with frothy brown-viscous matter, but before we all turn into gooey zombies, remember that hope remains! Its not too late. Unite under the forum of transcendental insight through the Braination!

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