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Heinlein as pop artist/flaming genius god 
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Post Re: Heinlein as pop artist/flaming genius god
BillPatterson wrote:
"The pop artisan operates within the received formulas -- gangster movie, radio-ready A-side, space opera -- and then incorporates into the style, manner, and mood of the work bits and pieces derived from all the aesthetic movements he or she has ever fallen in love with in other movies or songs or novels, whether hackwork or genius (without regard for and sometimes without consciousness of any difference between the two) . . . When it works, what you get is not a collection of references, quotes, allusions, and cribs but a whole, seamless thing, both familiar and new: a record of the consciousness that was busy falling in love with those moments in the first place. It's that filtering conscioiusness, coupled with the physical ability (or whatever it is) to flat-out play or sing or write or draw, that transforms the fragments and jetsam and familiar pieces into something fresh and unheard of. If that sounds a lot like [99] what flaming genius gods are supposed to be up to, then here's a distinction: the pop artisan is always hoping that, in the end, the thing is going to fucking kill. He is hanted bya vision of pop perfection: heartbreaking beauty that moves units . . . . "


(Bill Patterson quoting Maps and Legends by Michael Chabon)

Not that I disagree with this quote. But didn't Heinlein do something else? You described it in your biography, he first wrote Life-Line hoping it would sell. At that point he perhaps was that pop-artist. Then he modified his writing over and over again to adjust to Campbell's taste. And here he started to craft, he wrote almost like Poe described in his essay (http://www.poedecoder.com/Qrisse/works/philosophy.php) only for a quite different reason. But nevertheless he crafted what he wrote; he wasn't a madman following some whimsical inspiration. And in doing so, while believing (probably rightfully so) that Campbell knew his audience best, he transcended the genre very early on. He said somewhere in his letters either to Pournelle or to Pohl that he considered himself always to be a trailblazer, especially where the genre was involved.
He understood the formula of the genre. He indeed packed things in there that reached beyond it. But that didn’t happen incidentally; he wrote what he meant to write.
In some other letters, I think to his agent, he talked about his difficulties with plotting and how he truly believed that he even could write better if he would be able to plot a story before starting to write. But that wasn’t given to him. In another letter he talks about James Joyce. He despised what Joyce put out, at the same time he understood and affirmed that Joyce had developed something new and was contemplating on incorporating that in his own writing. That is a crafter. Somebody who has full awareness of what he is doing and how he is doing it. And I think that’s why he is so really awesome, why he satisfies readers who come from every end of the spectrum.
The funny part about it is that he continued to say exactly what he wanted to say. He managed to adhere to the form and its limitations and yet here he goes and does what he wants to do. So there is some merger of the skilled artisan and the inspired artist and I just stand and marvel at the outcome. But overall I think it is something different then what Chabron described in the two paragraphs you quoted.


Tue Dec 21, 2010 8:20 pm
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Post Re: Heinlein as pop artist/flaming genius god
Can't argue -- but that's also what makes him a flaming genius god.


Tue Dec 21, 2010 11:01 pm
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Post Re: Heinlein as pop artist/flaming genius god
Late to the discussion (obviously) but VERY appropriate that you mentioned Chabon's descriptor of Chaykin... as Chaykin is one of the guys in comics who admits RAH is one of the biggest influences in his work (You can especially see it in his creator owned work on non-superhero stuff such as American Flagg, Twilight, City of Tomorrow, etc.) the mix of sci-fi-tech, individualism and accountability, and (of course) sex makes the influence VERY obvious.

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Fri May 20, 2011 12:11 pm
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Post Re: Heinlein as pop artist/flaming genius god
Anyone who doesn't think pop art can be a serious purveyor of ideas should note the obituary for Stetson Kennedy, who used the forum of the old Superman radio program to expose the lies and activities of the Ku Klux Klan in the 1940s.
Who in my generation would have guessed?


Sat Aug 27, 2011 3:59 pm
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Post Re: Heinlein as pop artist/flaming genius god
Are those radio shows online anywhere? I had *no* idea, and I'd love to listen to them.

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Tue Aug 30, 2011 8:10 pm
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Post Re: Heinlein as pop artist/flaming genius god
I have no idea, either. It was in the obituary that the Associated Press sent out.
I guess you could google them.


Thu Sep 01, 2011 12:53 pm
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Post Re: Heinlein as pop artist/flaming genius god
sakeneko wrote:
Are those radio shows online anywhere? I had *no* idea, and I'd love to listen to them.
I don't know, but I'll point out an episode of radio's This American Life which begins with a story about the Superman/Klan affair. Offhand, I can't recall whether it incorporated clips from the Adventures of Superman shows.

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Thu Sep 01, 2011 7:36 pm
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Post Re: Heinlein as pop artist/flaming genius god
beamjockey wrote:
sakeneko wrote:
Are those radio shows online anywhere? I had *no* idea, and I'd love to listen to them.
I don't know, but I'll point out an episode of radio's This American Life which begins with a story about the Superman/Klan affair. Offhand, I can't recall whether it incorporated clips from the Adventures of Superman shows.


I love This American Life! Didn't catch that show, though. That is just the kind of stuff they dig up.


Fri Sep 02, 2011 1:50 pm
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