The best fiction keeps one foot permanently planted in reality.
Outside was one of the last places I ever expected to end up. Not because I have no experience with the great outdoors (I was Indian Acres’ Camper of the Year in 1995, thank you), but because my extracurricular interests fall heavily in the realm of culture, specifically science fiction, heavy metal, and the odd video game adventure. I’ve come to realize, though, that while these are typically thought of as “indoor” activities, there is in fact a great deal of crossover with the outside world.
Witness the 2009 Harper's article by Jon Mooallem that resurfaced this week, about Star Wars fans who travel the globe in search of the set locations from the films. For them, the fiction is no longer enough. They need to experience the real, something they can touch. It bridges the gap between fantasy and reality.
In fact, much of what I enjoy comes from a deep appreciation of the outdoors. Frank Herbert’s Dune, the book that set me on my path into the realm of science fiction, is in many ways a lesson in ecology, one inspired by the author’s early work in conservation. Immortal’s epic black metal masterpiece, At the Heart of Winter, was inspired largely by front man Abbath’s many forays into the woods and mountains around his native Norwegian home of Bergen. The best fiction keeps one foot permanently planted in reality.
Anyway, without further delay, here is your Weekend Reading.
Star Wars fans travel across the world, from Tunisia to California, desperately searching for a piece of that which they hold so dear to their heart. Jon, Mooallen, Harper's.
"Somewhere under the sand lay the actual relics of a fake, futuristic past—which were also the set pieces from the actual past that had helped bring that fiction into being. It was hard to keep it all straight. But I sensed that, as with any archaeological endeavor, whatever physical objects we recovered would somehow tie us, in our time, more closely to the truths and mythologies of the era they survived. ‘We ready?’ Jad asked, when the last of us finished in the outhouse. We had decided to dig for those meaningful scraps of lumber and rubber nine days after the summer solstice, and the forecast predicted a high of 114 degrees. We needed to get to work."
In case you needed another reason not to get seriously injured on the slopes this winter, consider the horror you may encounter under the knife. Only now are we truly beginning to understand what happens when we use anesthesia. Joshua Lang, The Atlantic.
"This experience is called ‘intraoperative recall’ or ‘anesthesia awareness,’ and it’s more common than you might think. Although studies diverge, most experts estimate that for every 1,000 patients who undergo general anesthesia each year in the United States, one to two will experience awareness. Patients who awake hear surgeons’ small talk, the swish and stretch of organs, the suctioning of blood; they feel the probing of fingers, the yanks and tugs on innards; they smell cauterized flesh and singed hair. But because one of the first steps of surgery is to tape patients’ eyes shut, they can’t see. And because another common step is to paralyze patients to prevent muscle twitching, they have no way to alert doctors that they are awake."