The Status Society turns fifty this year. Its author, Sheckley, also wrote novels based on Aliens, Deep Space Nine, and Babylon 5 prior to his death in Poughkeepsie four years ago and was acclaimed by other writers, including sci-fi satirist Douglas Adams, which makes perfect sense.
The sheer number of social systems and patterns implicitly rejected, rather anarchically, in the course of this novel is impressive: crime and law, religion and technological blandness, violence and pacifism, roguish callousness and bourgeois conformity — all of it leading in the end to the almost William Blake-like insight that the impulsiveness of the rogue and the passivity of the law-abiding must complement each other. I call this more Blakean than Nietzschean, since for all Nietzsche’s talk of balancing the Apollonian and Dionysian, we know his real loyalties lie with the latter.
P.S. I must thank debate moderator Michel Evanchik, who himself combines Viking-like Dionysian tendencies with Apollonian intellect, for giving me a copy of The Status Society — and to reward him, I say: LET’S PROVIDE HIM WITH A SECOND DEBATER FOR WEDNESDAY, NOV. 4 (8PM). I STILL NEED SOMEONE TO DEFEND THE LATIN AMERICAN LEFT THAT NIGHT (AGAINST LIBERTARIAN THOR HALVORSSEN) — so e-mail me at ToddSeavey[at]earthlink.net.
We were thinking, for instance, of debating the merits of Che, Castro, and/or Chavez. The precise wording of the debate question is negotiable, and I will announce both the question and the two debaters on this site in my Thursday entry. You could be one of them, comandante! Or by all means send me your socialist friend (who can be in Manhattan). We’ll have fun — and we’ll learn.
P.P.S. And if you instead want to pay to hear a debate, note that tonight sees reporter John Hockenberry pitted against Nation-editing communist sympathizer Katrina vanden Heuvel (among others) on the question of whether mainstream media is dead — and note the commie is defending mainstream media.