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Monday, December 12, 2005

At least the book post is getting some comments.

So I'll move it up here.

First, there's a query from the author:

So, if you had to live in the Post-Change world (as an ordinary shmo, no getting to be King) where would you prefer to be?

Bearkillers? Clan Mackenzie? Corvallis? Mt. Angel? England? The PPA?

Peggy arrived and stated:

Mrm. I would choose Clan Mackenzie, admittedly, in that it is shown how deeply faith/religion informs their daily life and the way they mark the seasons - had the same been detailed for Mt. Angel, I'd no doubt opt for them.

Count me among those who would not see the Change itself as a bad thing - it grounds the characters, as Dale and others have said, in realities that are too easily passed over nowadays.

Not a bad choice, and for the reasons stated. The Mackenzies are a likeable bunch, and are genuinely hospitable, to boot. But I'm going to stick with the home team and say Mt. Angel (or the Benedictines' Brigittine affiliates in Amity), for obvious reasons. My second choice would be the Bearkillers, with the Mackenzies as the bronze medalists. While Charles can't reign forever, England is going to be tense (and facing a possible civil war) as his eccentricities continue to wax, and the PPA is horrid beyond words. I prefer my antipopes laughable, and not wielding the power of death over me and mine, thanks.

I'll take the Bearkillers over the Mackenzies for two reasons: (1) I was in a music fraternity, and musicians can be...maddening to deal with; and (2) despite my qualms about the society, I really like the fearless "I got your back, no matter what" approach. If the PPA-ish lord mentality can be reigned it, the BKs have a lot going for them.

Finally, more light is shed on reader reaction to the new-old post-Change society:

I think the other thing that put some people off post-Change life was precisely that it wasn't a buffet, as Dale put it. Not just in matters of religion, but generally. In most areas of life there would be fewer choices. You eat the foods seasonally available because that's what there is; you farm or work at a craft (or you don't eat) rather than picking a career; no 500 channels of TV so you read or listen to a storyteller or find someone to play chess with; no Gap so you wear the clothing that's customary/available in your area; you make your own music or go without (which implies getting other people to agree with your choices).

That sort of thing. Likewise, you're stuck with the people you live with -- and you -have- to get along with them, or move, and moving isn't like switching towns in our society. It's more like emigrating to a strange foreign country, and may not be possible at all without loss of rights and status. You can't pick and chose who you associate with on a daily basis; it's your family and local community or nothing, and nothing really isn't an option since you need these people to _live_. The lack of urban anonymity and commercialized choice are things that would impact people very strongly. People tend to forget these days how desperately important your relations with the circle of kin and neighbors used to be. That's why "reputation" was so crucial, and why things like "shunning" were such terrible punishments. Being generally viewed as a jerk or a shirker or someone who wasn't a decent person... that wasn't just annoying, it threatened your existence. You can't get -away- from these people, or they from you; and you can't keep much secret from them, either.

The thing that strikes me about this analysis is that the same could be said for most of settled rural America, right up to the 1920s [and this is a helpful way to explain how they revived more quickly, too, post-Change--the survivors are out in the sticks]. Sure, there were mass-migrations, most notably European immigrants generally, and internally southern blacks and Appalachian whites to the industrial Midwest, but generally small towns managed to avoid or absorb this and didn't change much. There are even some remnants of this today--I've heard "Hey, you're Dale's boy!" both in my own small hometown and my dad's even smaller one more than a few times, so the family ID still matters some in rural Michigan. It certainly does not in metro Detroit. But post-Change, it's another faded strand of the past firmly woven back into a survivor's identity--and one not entirely unwelcome, at least in the circles I travel in. It also plays on a few strings that have an increasing appeal, such as distributist economics, a beat of life more in tune with nature, putting a bullet into the unblinking eye in the living room, etc.

Though I can see the good arguments on the other side (apart from the obvious, namely the horrors of the first Change year)--for example, the downside of the family bond is that you can wear the mark of Cain for something a forebear or current relative did, the lack of genuine goods like advanced and readily available medicines, inexpensive printing and a few other things I've come to appreciate.

Anyway, keep the comments coming.

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