Off the eastern coast of Ireland near the mouth of Galway Bay lay three small islands. Of these three, called the Aran Islands, the island of Inishmore is the largest. On Inishmore, at the edge of the sea atop, a sheer cliff one hundred meters high sits an Iron Age, semi-circular stone fort. The inland-facing fortifications of Dun Aengus guard nothing but a small slab of limestone ground. Some say the walls were once circular, but erosion long ago dropped half into the sea.
POSTER ART NIGHTS
There is a ring beyond the ring around the moon.
It has the clarity of glass and contains nothing.
Not everyone can see it. But later
There will be other reproductions,
Other nights when we will watch where cars
Like beetles in the dark
Follow their twitching cones of light
Across the ridges where the river bends
Around Elk Island Farm.
But the burning spirals of my digital self
Are never just the same old song,
Each track is shorter, but contains more information,
Until the final spiral disappears untraced,
Heard only by my friend, who claims to hear
The silent ‘h’ in ghost.
It makes an invisible sound, he says,
Not everyone can hear it.
As on a winter night years ago we stopped here,
Angrily pulling off the road,
While the queenly moon
Assumed her listening pose across the river.
And so our words, cruel and obvious then,
Are invisible now to me,
And of the many things we said that night,
Or meant to say,
I can remember almost nothing.
Yet I still can feel
The roughness of your coat across my hands,
Still see the water drops
That streaked the steaming windows,
Drops that glittered
In the same cold light that shone
Upon the frosted blades of grass outside the car,
Both then and now.
Where in the park we stood each day
By that rude philosopher with lantern thrusted high,
Who stared with his stone eyes at those who passed unheeding,
A companion girl bends now, head down, face turned away,
And gathering close her granite robes
As if his searching question had found her in a lie.
What is it that he always doesn’t say
In hermetic language none of us can hear?
Like traveling without a map, you say, of dreams
That nightly took you to a silent land
Whose hieroglyphs gave meaning, instant and complete,
Which waking, you could never seem to understand.
AND THINKING TO ESCAPE
Why do we say this can’t go on,
When vanishing each day at five
Through doors that open on dark streets
Impossibly we leave our spaces empty
And move cleanly westward toward the light.
Later, fumbling at the winding sheets
Sounds move past us in the night.
Though in the dark, we cannot be alone.
Something is always with us, invisible, like air
That pushes gently on an outspread sail.
It knows we must be going
And will take us anywhere,
Even to those places that ‘just might have been.’
Some friends have gone before us,
We see them moving there
Like shadows in a mirror where symmetry has failed.
Awkwardly they stumble, then stare and look surprised,
As if discovered reading dead men’s mail.
PROMENADE IN THE BACK YARD
The girl in brown stood by the door
Where the bats inquired in the dusky air,
While in the yard the unwashed Poltroon
Hacked and spit in the booted sand.
“Come out, come out, and play in the dark,”
He plunked out a tune on his comb.
The dogs howled, and near the porch
The cats made infrequent rushes.
But still she leaned against the door
And made no stir. Would
That the moon had called to her,
The moon, and the honeysuckle’s drift...
Only the essence in their names
Lives after them, vibrating
In the air of lonely rooms
Where once they lived.
They are reduced to signs,
Or random noises that go unexplained.
Someone sits reading in the chair.
The summer day
Draws its strength together for the afternoon.
In the hall a floorboard creaks.
The curtains flutter
But the leaves outside are still.
In this one moment, when the reader’s eyes
Lift uneasily from the page,
The mind clear but not focused anywhere,
All that is needed to bring them forth
In buzzing clarity
Is the simple murmuring of their names.
But we forget! Or quickly distracted,
We flip the page, annoyed,
And shifting in the chair
We fumble for our matches
And another cigarette.
Who will be the last to say their names?
The very last to say
“Why, this was Great Aunt Harriet’s vase,
Who lived here long ago.”
Then, smiling sadly,
“But of course, you don’t remember her.”
And what of Harriet, then?
Will she hover forever in these rooms
Like an echo,
Waiting for the one lifted sound
No traveler now on earth can make.
Gene Roddenberry, the creator of Star Trek stated, "For me science fiction is a way of thinking, a way of logic that bypasses a lot of nonsense. It allows people to look directly at important subjects." Science fiction is an expansive genre that explores the impact of imagined or actual science on society (Merriam Webster). A platform inspires curiosity through stories that demonstrate what could be created and what could become of society. Unfounded technological advances displayed in literary and visual mediums are responsible for the advances in technology and culture in modern society. Authors such as Jules Verne, H.G. Wells, and Ray Bradbury imagined tools and predicted changes in society that have become truths. Furthermore, Star Trek and Star Wars inspired experts in the science industry to turn fantasy into reality. Fields like communication, entertainment, space travel, and transportation expanded drastically due to the science fiction genre. In addition, the culture of society has been indirectly influenced, as well. Science fiction has walked off the pages and out of the screen to influence the progression of society culturally and technologically.
Science fiction is responsible for aiding in positive changes in the culture of modern society. For example, racial tension was relieved during the Civil Rights movement with the help of Star Trek and Martin Luther King Jr. Uhura, Nichelle Nichols considered quitting the show but Martin Luther King Jr. convinced her to stay because it set African Americans equal with Caucasians, plus it was the first non-stereotypical role given to an African American actor (Soylent Communications). Setting African Americans equal to Caucasians in a widely recognizable television show proved to society (one that was confused with racial matters) that equality is best way for harmonious interpersonal relationships on all levels.
Of all of the parts of society, the field of technology is the most impacted by science fiction. Multiple fields including communication, home entertainment, space travel, and transportation are improved because of the fantastical ideas presented in the science fiction genre. Communication increased mobility and efficiency with the invention of the cellular telephone. The cell phone is credited to the "communicator" that was used in the television series Star Trek. The communicator allowed Captain Kirk to wirelessly contact other starships throughout the galaxy. The inventor of cell phones, Martin Cooper credits Star Trek as the major source of inspiration while developing the new technology (Lawinski). The cellular phone enables people to stay in touch regularly and it is considered the must have tool of modern society. Moreover, the cell phone is surpassing the amount of landlines, which indicates that it is a very influential piece of equipment (Associated Press). The expansion of communication is only one of the many fields that have been directly impacted by science fiction.
In addition to communication being impacted by science fiction, the use of home entertainment became a major pastime in society. Big screen televisions and interactive games were present in Ray Bradbury's dystopic Fahrenheit 451. The people in Fahrenheit 451 were entertained in the "parlor" that was surrounded by large screens on the walls, much like the big screen televisions that are found in many American homes today. Television is a method that people use to zone out, unlike books, which are reliant on the person's mind to comprehend. In Fahrenheit 451 the characters relate books as controllable mediums and television (any electronic entertainment, too) as a tool that engulfs oneself until time itself is forgotten (Bradbury 119). A deep look at modern society would indicate that the dystopia that Bradbury predicted in his novel is rapidly proving itself. Unfortunately, the impact of science fiction on tools such as cell phones, computers, video games, and televisions negatively influences society's desire to invest time in reading and other mind requiring activities. As the technology increases, the human's ability to do less work it also decreases the ability for society to improve on an intellectual level (Associated Press). Home entertainment's influence on society seems minute when considering science fictions impact on space travel and transportation.
Two main components that contribute to the well-being of society (and perhaps curiosity), space travel and methods of transportation are heavily influenced by science fiction books and movies. Space travel is an important technology to harvest and was influenced by all forms of science fiction. For example, George Melies "A Trip to the Moon," a small film about traveling to the moon inspired today's engineers to create ships that can indeed travel to the moon. Society's longing for knowing more about the universe used movies such as this to spark space wars(who can achieve space travel first) between countries. Much of the influence on space travel stems from the curiosity that many science fiction books and movies instilled in the society's elite minds. It seems to be just fiction, but the question 'could it be true' lingers in the industry. Moreover, it is important that society investigate space, especially in an era in which the health of the planet is dwindling rapidly. Star Trek made its stamp on space travel as well when NASA named a shuttle Enterprise after the well-known starship on the popular television show (Dumoulin). It seems as though science fiction influences the creation of innovative technology, as well as inspires future innovators to push passed the limits of it too.
Furthermore, science fiction has made a mark on methods of transportation, whether they are for land or sea. Submarines made their way into the world well before science fiction had described them, but it was Jules Verne's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea that inspired efficient submarines that could be effective tools during war. The imagination of Verne's' Nautilus would be the beginning of the modern submarine. Besides submarines, electric cars came about through the works of the famous Star Wars saga. On the planets featured in the Star Wars movies, the vehicles are powered by solar energy and electric currents much like the cars that are popping up in the automotive market today(Lawinski). In Star Wars Episode One, Anakin drives a vehicle powered by hydrogen cells (claims George Lucas) and withing three years of that movie making its way into the theater, several automotive brands began selling electric cars. This is no coincidence. Jennifer Lawinksi claims that the automotive industry briefly looked into electric cars until they had a visual of what one may look like if it were to be made a reality (obviously, Star Wars was much different looking). Electric cars are the next step in reducing global warming, therefore it can be concluded that science fiction is moving society in a positive direction.
The use of science fiction as a manual of the technological and cultural advances in society is a brave pathway to take. Many advanced technologies stem from the imaginative realms created by creative authors and filmmakers in the science fiction realm. The enhancement of communication, space travel, and transportation is beneficial to making those within the society well connected and informed. Moreover, it is exciting to watch fantastical ideas turn into tangible realities. However, large amounts of hi-tech inventions could stall the progression of humanity at an intellectual level. The entertainment field could lure people into its visually stimulating environment and cause a decrease in the want to learn. Science fiction is fiction, but it does have its way of finding itself coming out of the pages and into our hands.
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