Tag Archives: learning

Culture Defined by Pop

Alan Lomax was a folklorist who spent the majority of his life preserving small, local folklore traditions. He believed that globalization was encroaching on the traditions of countless subcultures and slowly but surely pushing them toward extinction. He was also, potentially, a manipulative, manifest destiny toting jack-ass, but that’s not important here.

The main crux of his beliefs were that the important local traditions and stories and music of Americana would be subsumed by the mass media and rendered meaningless. Instead of the local storyteller, we would listen to radio programmes. Instead of being taught by the local wise-man, we’d be taught by a Federal mandated school curriculum.

Cultural individuality would be gone and we would be left with one, big, happy social identity.

He was, for the most part, correct. Television and the Internet have become one of the primary means that we identify with one another. If I mention Grumpy Cat to an individual who lives on the opposite end of the county, he will know what I am talking about, even if we were born and raised in completely different regions and sub-cultures.

If I talk about Game of Thrones with someone, we will connect. If I mention Downton Abbey, we will bond. Culture is rapidly becoming defined by popular culture; state-wide, country-wide, world-wide. It is steadily and irrevocably moving toward this one, great global culture.

I don’t think this is a scary thing or an arguable thing. It’s just a thing; an inevitable consequence of a communication network that binds together every corner of the globe instantaneously.

What is interesting is the fact that there are still sub-cultures and sub-sub-cultures that are forming and blossoming within this new global identity. Even with the ability to unify everybody under one pop culture umbrella, there are still individuals who huddle under their interests and beliefs, separate and isolated from the main culture.

The difference between then and now is that these people have self-determined their own sub-culture. While in the olden days, Appalachian musics and stories were determined by geographic isolation and blues music and the Harlem Renaissance was determined by socio-economic political subjugation, the various sub-pop-culture interests and traditions that are starting to flower are solely determined by the interests and desires of the individual wishing to define themselves.

And that is not nearly as bad as Mr. Lomax feared.

-D-

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Filed under Thinking and Pondering: Science, History, Analysis and Over-Think

On the Shoulders of Giants

I’ve been reading Necronomicon, a massive collection of Lovecraft’s stories. Lovecraft has always informed what I write, even before I started reading his stories. He influenced the writers who influenced me, Stephen King in particular. And when I got into my big Lovecraft kick right after high school, I began to make a couple of (terrible) attempts at writing about elder gods and eldritch horrors with noneuclidian features.

And though I stopped writing anything overtly Lovecraftian, ancient evils from beyond time will creep into my stories, those nameless horrors that can’t be described with human language. So in a lot of ways, I respect that curmudgeonly, crazy bastard. Without him, I wouldn’t be the writer I am (for better or for worse).

So when I read the first story in the collection, I was a little disappointed. There was a great idea at the center of it, but it was very short. It wasn’t really very well fleshed out. There are hints of what he would do later in his stories; creatures from the abyss, indescribable monsters that are so close to human, ancient ruins and crazed protagonists. On the whole though, it’s a cool idea without enough story or backstory. And it made me happy. While I’m nowhere near his equal in the things he does well, at the very least, I’m stumbling the very same way he did in those early years.

It’s comforting to see that because I can see that he overcame it, which means (hopefully) I can too.

Dylan Charles

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Filed under Horror: Movies, Books, Stories and More

Pick It Apart

I have a bit of difficulty watching a movie or reading a book. If it’s horror or thriller or anything to do with monsters, I constantly take myself out of the experience by critiquing it the entire time. I can’t help but ask myself how I would have written it or how I would have described a character or if I would have gone that route with the monster. Or I just get grumpy that I didn’t come up with the idea.

It makes it a little hard to get invested in a fictional world when I spend the entire time nitpicking the thing from start to end. “Well I don’t know if that’s a realistic way to depict people running in fear.” “Why would the ghost kill people that way? That’s entirely contrary to the nature of ghosts!” “This helldog is entirely too verbose.” I can’t turn off the critic, the writer, the little guy in my brain that wants to do this for a living.

If I want escapism, I usually go for movies or books that aren’t in my genres. That way, I spend less time thinking of how I would’ve done it and just enjoy the ride. Horror is for educational purposes only. It’s how I learn and develop what I do and how I become a better writer. And that is my excuse for why I watch so many terrible horror movies.

Dylan Charles

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Filed under Thinking and Pondering: Science, History, Analysis and Over-Think

In Code

Since I started this blog, I’ve been very interested in making it my own creation. I’ve even gone to the trouble of registering a domain name, so it’s not just another .wordpress.com blog, but dylancharles.net. Which still makes me excited by the way. I know it’s a simple matter of, you know, paying money, but it’s my little URL, with my name that pops up plain as day in google.

Part of this desire to make this website uniquely me, has been an interest in breaking free of using the themes. Unfortunately, I have a fairly large roadblock in my way. Specifically, I don’t know but the extreme basics of HTML. I can make something bold and I can make something italic, but that’s about the extent of my knowledge.

So, for the first time in a long while, I’m going out of my way to learn a new skillset. And I’m wary going in. Programming has always been daunting to me. It’s about knowing proper symbols and putting them in their proper places and it’s all very akin to math, another subject I wasn’t fond of.

But thanks to a little guidance, I’ve glommed on w3c.org, a site with a fairly large amount of information about programming and the like.  I’ve started futzing around with the basics of the basics, just messing around in notepad and trying to make something resembles anything. And, success, I have what looks like a website from 1995: black text on a white background with one image and a link!

The unintended side effect of this little experiment is I’m starting to have some vague notion of how the internet works now. Which is spooky. I dunno if I want to look too closely at the underpinnings of the internet.

Still, I’m having fun, for the most part. And hopefully, in the next couple of months, I’ll know enough to actually make my own website design, without relying on the creativity of some anonymous user I’ll never meet.

Dylan Charles

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