December 31st, 2007, 06:34 PM
January 2008 BOTM: Camp Concentration by Thomas Disch
Happy New Year: Discussion is now open on this SF sixties classic.
My copy looks like this:
More details on the book HERE.
Published in 1968, it is a book that horrified people on its release.
Seminal work or trippy hit of the 1960's New Wave SF: you decide!
Mark / Hobbit
January 5th, 2008, 04:08 PM
Camp Concentration is one of my top ten favorite reads in recent memory. It possesses obvious similarities to Daniel Keyes' Flowers for Algernon, both thematic and structural, but it's nevertheless its own unique animal. Like Keyes, Disch makes use of the "journal as narrative device" to masterful effect. While, on the one hand, the entries offer insight into the mind of the book's protagonist through his interpretation of events, they also allow the reader to anticipate future developments (or more appropriately in the case of both novels, a deterioriation in the intellectual capacity of our respective heroes).
I found the notion of syphilltic dementia as both blessing and curse very interesting given the number of revered artists who, some argue, may owe their brilliance to the progression of this very same condition (Baudelaire, Gauguin, Manet, Scott Joplin, Schubert, and Guy de Maupassant to name a few),
January 28th, 2008, 11:57 AM
the puppet master
I just realized the month is almost over and I didn't write anything about this book.
I liked this it as well. Disch shares many of my interests like Alchemy and the Ghent Altarpiece, so it was not hard for me to be engaged.
The premise of this novel seems almost antithetical to Charles Harness's The Rose. In that novel, Harness put art and creativity in a dichotomy with military oriented science. This novel imagines what it's like when the military puts the artistic imagination at it's disposal as well. That doesn't work either.
The ghost of the Tuskeegee Syphillis study seems to hang over the novel:
Disch's poetic/philosophical concerns and excesses are not as bad as advertised and did not thwart me.Of course, we all immediately know what's going to happen to the narrator, don't we? By the time we get to the second section I thought he might end the book with what looked like syphillitic Nietzschean aphoristic ramblings, but he doesn't do that. The smoke clears and the novel ends in a surprisingly straight genre fashion.
Worth the trouble and worth another read. A lot of good stuff in this one. ****
I have 334 on the TBR pile to check out next. I also bought the non genre novel The Priest to check out as well. Hey, did you know he wrote The Brave Little Toaster?
Check out this documentary listed in the thread "Phil Dick Dummy" by the poster cougs. There's interview material with Disch about Dick (yipe) and he's actually quite amusing. He sounds and looks a bit like John Malkovich ( the documentary is an hour though).
Last edited by ArthurFrayn; January 28th, 2008 at 01:05 PM.
February 2nd, 2008, 12:25 PM
Old Fogey Fan
I promise that I will check this thread more frequently...
I didn't even know this forum was here, lol.
I've read CC three or four times. I did not read it in preparing for this discussion (as mentioned elsewhere, I'm moving and everything is in boxes).
I'll reserve myself to a comment on a theme that I remember.
I think that one of the deeper/layered/whatever themes of this novel is the fact that DESPITE the perversion of creativity by and for military purposes, and despite the horrific things done to the inmates, they still get creative results.
I'm not sure if Disch's point is a happy one: that creativity and artistry will thrive and endure regardless of the circumstances. Its a part of the human psyche and nothing can keep it down. OR, a negative one, that artists sacrifice themselves to their art and will do so even if the end result is a perversion of everything they stand for and are trying to express.
Its also an interesting take on the 'technology can be used for good or evil' concept.
February 9th, 2008, 04:11 PM
Member of the Month™
This is a book I have almost bought many times. I will try and get a copy and read it soon. It does seem very interesting from what's been said so far.
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