time machine cuba

poster by charles whiteside

Within every human individual there is a personal eclectic conglomeration of ambiences and narrative content built from a lifetime of experience, assimilating information, and digesting popular culture. When this conglomerations are shared by a group of people, we deal with the metaphorical and symbolical web which we call ‘culture’. The latter is constituted, built and rebuilt by ever-changing, interlocking feedback loops of the associative kind. William Gibson not only “has tapped right into our collective cultural mainline”, but delivers a personal account of how ‘culture’ is generated within the individual. Here’s a quote from his essay time machine cuba—I learned of science fiction and history in a single season:

[…] I found only a few faded lithographs (as I now imagine they were) of airplanes. But these were airplanes unlike any I had seen, and they held my attention in a peculiar way. They were old, clearly of some other era, but exciting, and somehow frightening as well. Squatting there, staring at them, I felt as though some enormous wedge of information was being driven into my head. Various bits and pieces of half-knowledge were coming together, forming some new and utterly unexpected whole.

The following snippet reminds me very much of how Stephen King experienced the cold-war era:

Sirens were tested regularly, along with something called “the system”, and the dial of my first transistor radio was marked, twice, with that same symbol, indicating the two frequencies set aside for Civil Defense.

via entry at william gibson | poster by charles whiteside