Sunday, November 15, 2009

Cultural Cycles and a Bestseller

Cory Panshin, who has some interesting things to say on a variety of subjects, offers a theory on recurrent patterns in cultural evolution. It is more than interesting, but rather than try to interpret what she says here, I refer you to Trogholm, Cory Panshin's Web site.

I will note that one concept I picked up from Cory's writing is the idea that the frequency of the cycles of recurring cultural patterns increases as we move forward in time. In fact, we may be at the edge of a culture-wide mood-shift right now, as Cory posits. Perhaps a shift as big as we saw take hold in the Sixties, even though it's been just three decades since that one damped out.

A sequence of events and reading today directed my attention to Robert H. Rimmer's The Harrad Experiment. You may recall that the novel (and the film) concerned itself with overturning conventional concepts of monogamy, partnership, and family ... and expanding them into common households, with poolings of financial, emotional, and intellectual resources. The experiment of the title focused on sexual freedom, sex "... without fear, jealousy, repression, or inhibition ...."

The idea of recurrent cultural patterns and The Harrad Experiment collided in my thoughts and generated this question: would The Harrad Experiment be a hit today, as a contemporary novel? In a society in which many people look beyond their own biological families in favor of choosing "family" from among friends? A society in which blended families and single parents are nearly as common as traditional families? Would people even want to explore that aspect of "revolution" again? Is the sexual revolution a bit of unfinished business from which most young people back then withdrew when put to the test? Is failing that test the reason why large-group families aren't common today? Will it all come up again in the midst of a new cultural shift?

I have a feeling that such a novel would sell. A novel that focuses on odd, titillating, intellectually stimulating concepts hinging on sex, and told through tightly focused viewpoints, would have a good shot at bestsellerdom. If we are on the edge of a cultural shift, sex is going to be involved (right along with the arts and every other element of society)


Writing a Research Paper said...

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Michael A. Banks said...

Much of the information that's online is held by commercial interests, who sell access to libraries, universities, and corporations. Those institutions then allow their members free access. This of course cuts out the general public from access.

A few of the commercial interests permit paid individual access, but there are so many wonderful resources that are priced too high for individuals. Without institutional access, we're locked out.