Gordon Dahlquist Q&A ~ #8

Author of THE GLASS BOOKS OF THE DREAM EATERS

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DeppInTheHeartOfTexas
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Gordon Dahlquist Q&A ~ #8

Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Fri Feb 13, 2009 8:55 am

ONBC: Why was the blue glass more of an erotic pull than an expansion of intellect or some other gain?

GD: I think all of that comes later, and that the first impulses are always more personal and intimate (and literally more seductive). If one looks at the internet, the first real successes - why, for example, secure transaction software was first invented - were games and porn, a vast expansion of very visceral and private worlds. Also, some of this is to try and get at things we take for granted after photography (and cinema, tv, and new media), which is simply an exposure to many, many more people/bodies/stories/images than we'd ever see in our real lives. That's a pretty new phenomenon. I had a teacher in college who once described marriage as "the best choice made at the time, from the available pool ... and then you pray the pool never gets larger." It's a cynical view, but I think there's something to it – culturally – with regard to common notions of what sorts of lives we deserve (based on what we've been exposed to) and what we actually have. So some of this for me is about materialism - the dreams of an "other life" that fuel credit card debt, that inform advertising, and so on. But the main thing about all of that, is my belief that it all comes from individual desire.

Of course, there's another angle which is more directly about Victorian morality, which is all about repression and subversion – though we know that this same Victorian society was utterly riddled with really heinous prostitution – and about western nations setting up empires around the world where their moral views (and their religions) are taught to the ignorant locals. In the 19th century you see these notions of imperialism and industrialism – which, as institutions, are founded on big sections of the population being treated poorly – and a real attempt at moral high-mindedness. It's easy to see their hypocrisy, but harder to see the genuine grappling – to see that so many of them couldn't see the contradictions. It's always easy to look back at a past era and shake one's head, but of course we're hardly any different. The corporate-friendly governments we've had, the adventurism around the world, its moral certainty – all these will be reductively connected by students everywhere – but for now we're flailing around.

And the other reason this crops up – not unrelated – is that so many of the genres we care about still - deductive mysteries, science fiction, horror, social epics – arise in english in the 19th century, along with, of course, Victorian pornography. It seemed only logical – and human - to include that as part of the picture.
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Re: Gordon Dahlquist Q&A ~ #8

Unread postby gemini » Fri Feb 13, 2009 2:19 pm

I admit to asking this question not because the erotic didn't pull me in, it did, but just thought that the invention could be used for intelligence or advancement. I like your comparison to the Internet, since it does have the same qualities. I do think the erotic adds much more to the story than any other use, and am impressed by your belief that all comes from individual desire. It's plain to see why you are a writer.

It is true we live in a world of hypocrisy, and as you say we are flailing around. It does show there are not so many differences between today and your Victorian world.

Your college teacher's comment about marriage, "the best choice made at the time, from the available pool ... and then you pray the pool never gets larger", explains today's divorce rate. It makes me think of Hollywood and why film stars find it so hard to stay in one relationship. Then I think of some of my friends who married their high school sweetheart before even looking at the available pool. It makes a lot of food for thought.

Your last comment about Victorian pornography surprised me. Somehow that seemed like a recent phenomena but then I reallized how absurd the thought was. Maybe that is why it surprised me in the book.
Last edited by gemini on Fri Feb 13, 2009 7:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Gordon Dahlquist Q&A ~ #8

Unread postby nebraska » Fri Feb 13, 2009 3:53 pm

I am really loving Mr. Dahlquist's responses to our questions. :bounce:

About the marriage/larger pool thing - the secret is that once you make the commitment, you don't look at the pool. I know, easier said than done.

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Re: Gordon Dahlquist Q&A ~ #8

Unread postby trygirl » Fri Feb 13, 2009 4:01 pm

This was a great question because I too wondered why the books were erotic in nature and not more intellectual or elevating. I kept wondering why salacious images and not visions of someone having a scientific breakthrough or discovering the cure for a terrible disease, anything other than sexual. But this answer has really added a lot of layers to the book for me. And equating the glass books to the Internet is brilliant and so true. The Internet really is a door into other people's lives and experiences. It takes the notion of vicarious living to another level. It really has become the new gateway drug to other things. And I love your college professor's comment about the bigger pool and Gemini is dead on with relating it to the current divorce rate and Hollywood stars always changing partners. But it just goes along with what I said in a previous post about technology. As technology advances, so does individual desire and materialism.
People once rode in horse drawn carriages and they were content but then along comes the Model T and everyone has to have one because the pool got bigger or rather the dirt road turned into a highway. You can't want what's not available to you or you don't know exists. But once those doors are opened, your world gets a little bigger. This also makes me think of those reality shows like The Swan or Extreme Makeover that take people unhappy with their appearances and gives them the gift of plastic surgery. And then months later, you read about these people leaving their spouses or significant others because their pool just got bigger. I'm sure these shows have contributed to the divorce rate as well. I also think it's easy to see the hypocrisy of a situation and not the grappling. It's simple to judge a past era rather than try and understand their legitimate struggles. I also like the last part of your answer. The 19th century was the birth of a lot of things including the modern view of pornography. Sexual images have existed for ions but the depiction of these images didn't become a four letter word until the Victorian era...this is the era that started the magazine under the mattress.
Last edited by trygirl on Sat Feb 14, 2009 10:55 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Gordon Dahlquist Q&A ~ #8

Unread postby fansmom » Fri Feb 13, 2009 8:19 pm

gemini wrote:Your last comment about Victorian pornography surprised me. Somehow that seemed like a recent phenomena
Wait, Gemini, were you not with us for The Libertine? Haven't you read anything by Rochester?

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Re: Gordon Dahlquist Q&A ~ #8

Unread postby gemini » Fri Feb 13, 2009 11:54 pm

fansmom wrote:
gemini wrote:Your last comment about Victorian pornography surprised me. Somehow that seemed like a recent phenomena
Wait, Gemini, were you not with us for The Libertine? Haven't you read anything by Rochester?

I saw the film but the discussion was before my time. You have certainly sparked my interest enough to take a stroll through the archives.
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Re: Gordon Dahlquist Q&A ~ #8

Unread postby fansmom » Sat Feb 14, 2009 12:24 am

gemini wrote:
fansmom wrote:
gemini wrote:Your last comment about Victorian pornography surprised me. Somehow that seemed like a recent phenomena
Wait, Gemini, were you not with us for The Libertine? Haven't you read anything by Rochester?
I saw the film but the discussion was before my time. You have certainly sparked my interest enough to take a stroll through the archives.
He certainly wrote erotica, and it was almost 200 years before Queen Victoria.


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