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Olaf Stapledon - Saint & Revolutionary ( 1886 - 1950 )

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 12, 2016 7:49 am    Post subject: Olaf Stapledon - Saint & Revolutionary ( 1886 - 1950 ) Reply with quote

( I am just bunging down some notes in the hope that Dafydd will pick up on this - his sort of stuff ... ? ... the wikipedia article does not mention Cosmopolis )


William Olaf Stapledon (10 May 1886 – 6 September 1950) – known as Olaf Stapledon – was a British philosopher and author of influential works of science fiction. In 2014, he was inducted into the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame. ... Stapledon was born in Seacombe, Wallasey, on the Wirral Peninsula in Cheshire ... In 1940 the Stapledon family built and moved into a new house on Simon's Field, in Caldy, on the Wirral. ... In 1950 ... he cancelled a projected trip to Yugoslavia and returned to his home in Caldy, where he died very suddenly of a heart attack. ... Stapledon was cremated at Landican Crematorium. His widow and their children scattered his ashes on the sandy cliffs overlooking the Dee Estuary, a favourite spot of his that features in more than one of his books. Stapledon Wood, on the south-east side of Caldy Hill, is named after him. ... [ ... SO ALMOST A NEIGHBOUR OF OURS ... ? ]

...He was educated at Abbotsholme School and Balliol College, Oxford, where he acquired a BA degree in Modern History (Second Class) in 1909, promoted to an MA degree in 1913. ... awarded a PhD degree in philosophy from the University of Liverpool in 1925 ... During the First World War he served as a conscientious objector. Stapledon became an ambulance driver with the Friends' Ambulance Unit in France and Belgium from July 1915 to January 1919; he was awarded the Croix de Guerre for bravery ... For the duration of the Second World War Stapledon abandoned his pacifism and supported the war effort. ... After 1945 Stapledon travelled widely on lecture tours, visiting the Netherlands, Sweden and France, and in 1948 he spoke at the World Congress of Intellectuals for Peace in Wrocław, Poland. He attended the Conference for World Peace held in New York City in 1949, the only Briton to be granted a visa to do so. In 1950 he became involved with the anti-apartheid movement ... During the war Stapledon become a public advocate of J.B. Priestley and Richard Acland's left-wing Common Wealth Party, as well as the British internationalist group Federal Union. ... Some commentators have called Stapledon a Marxist, although Stapledon himself explicitly rejected Marxism ...

SEE - http://repwblic.informe.com/federal-union-union-of-european-federalists-dt1236.html

... Stapledon's writings directly influenced Arthur C. Clarke, Brian Aldiss, Stanisław Lem, Bertrand Russell, John Gloag, Naomi Mitchison, C. S. Lewis, Vernor Vinge, John Maynard Smith and indirectly influenced many others, contributing many ideas to the world of science fiction. The "supermind" composed of many individual consciousnesses forms a recurring theme in his work. Star Maker contains the first known description of what are now called Dyson spheres. Freeman Dyson credits the novel with giving him the idea, even stating in an interview that "Stapledon sphere" would be a more appropriate name. Last and First Men features early descriptions of genetic engineering and terraforming. Sirius describes a dog whose intelligence is increased to the level of a human being's. ... Last and First Men, a "future history" of 18 successive species of humanity, and Star Maker, an outline history of the Universe, were highly acclaimed by figures as diverse as Jorge Luis Borges, J. B. Priestley, Bertrand Russell, Algernon Blackwood, Hugh Walpole, Arnold Bennett, Virginia Woolf (Stapledon maintained a correspondence with Woolf) and Winston Churchill. In contrast, Stapledon's philosophy repelled C. S. Lewis, whose Cosmic Trilogy was written partly in response to what Lewis saw as amorality, although Lewis admired Stapledon's inventiveness and described him as "a corking good writer" ...

... Stapledon was an agnostic who was hostile to religious institutions, but not to religious yearnings, a fact that set him at odds with H. G. Wells in their correspondence. ... On Stapledon's religious views, he was an agnostic ... He wrote many non-fiction books on political and ethical subjects, in which he advocated the growth of "spiritual values", which he defined as those values expressive of a yearning for greater awareness of the self in a larger context ("personality-in-community"). ... None of Stapledon's novels or short stories has been adapted for film or television ... In nations with "life + 70 years" copyright regimes, Stapledon's published works will be in the public domain from 2021. ... like -


... ooh ... Daf, Sion, Rhisiart, Marianne, Ffred, Ffran, Ffil, Marcus, Dai etc ... we've only got until 2012 !

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 12, 2016 10:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote


" ... In his 1948 lecture to the British Interplanetary Society Stapledon considered the ultimate purpose of colonising other worlds. Having examined the possible motivations arising from improved scientific knowledge and access to extraterrestrial raw materials, he concludes that the ultimate benefits of space colonisation will be the increased opportunities for developing human (and post-human) diversity, intellectual and aesthetic potential and, especially, ‘spirituality’. By the latter concept he meant a striving for “sensitive and intelligent awareness of things in the universe (including persons), and of the universe as a whole.” A key insight articulated by Stapledon in this lecture was that this should be the aspiration of all human development anyway, with or without space colonisation, but that the latter would greatly increase the scope for such developments. Another key aspect of his vision was the development of a diverse, but connected, ‘Commonwealth of Worlds’ extending throughout the Solar System, and eventually beyond, within which human potential would be maximised. ... "


" ... In this paper I analyse Stapledon’s vision of space colonisation, and will conclude that his overall conclusions remain sound. However, I will also argue that he was overly utopian in believing that human social and political unity are prerequisites for space exploration (while agreeing that they are desirable objectives in their own right), and that he unnecessarily downplayed the more prosaic scientific and economic motivations which are likely to be key drivers for space exploration (if not colonisation) in the shorter term. Finally, I draw attention to some recent developments in international space policy which, although probably not influenced by Stapledon’s work, are nevertheless congruent with his overarching philosophy as outlined in ‘Interplanetary Man' ? ...

... Whereas annihilation, by definition, would be the end of the story for humanity, and global tyranny would be a ( non-desirable but presumably transient and evolvable ) political system, Stapledon’s third option is really a utopian socio-political aspiration that would be compatible with a variety of social and political arrangements. Stapledon’s own preferred political arrangements for “a new kind of human world” are not explicitly specified in ‘Interplanetary Man ? ’ However, as we shall see, some kind of world government is implied, and in other work ( e.g. Last and First Men and Old Man in New World ) Stapledon was clearly sympathetic to some form of world government as an appropriate political structure for a united humanity. As he was also opposed to ‘global tyranny’ it follows that he believed that amnon-tyrannous (i.e. democratic and presumably federal ) world government is both possible and desirable. ... "


[ >> DISCUSSING STAPLDON'S BOOK " THE LAST AND FIRST MEN " AND WHETHER HE CREATED THE CONCEPT OF " CYBERSPACE " >> ] ... Over the course of 2 billion years, Stapledon depicts the rise and fall of numerous civilizations and variations of our own species. Our own civilization occupies the first hundred pages before we finally blow ourselves up, making way for new mutations and the first variation of the species, the Second Men. This is followed by sixteen other mutations who behave and live in ways that are completely different from ourselves. My goal is to illustrate just a few of the concepts that Stapeldon conceived, with the idea of “cyberspace” being just one of many. ... The idea of genetic engineering comes from Stapledon when he wrote about the Third species of Men trying to create a superior version of itself. Subsequently, it creates a giant brain that is housed in a huge tower and worshipped as a perfect “philosopher king”. ... [ = A REPUBLICAN IDEA ]

... the most currently significant (and borrowed) concept he conceived is the idea of the Hive mind, a side effect of when humanity achieves telepathy. Everything from Star Trek to Starcraft, to Star Wars owes Stapledon a footnote on that one. And it is on that principle that I stake the claim that he invented the idea of “cyberspace” and the internet, a hive mind of computers in its own right, well before anyone was thinking up hip ways to interact with it. ... [ A 19C METAPHOR FOR A FUTURE REPUBLICAN SOCIETY WAS " THE HIVE " - H G WELLS ALSO PROPOSED A GLOBAL REPUBLIC BASED UPON INFORMATION PROCESSING ]

... The book’s significance goes far beyond its tributes to science fiction. His predictions for our own civilization are both remarkably off and remarkably dead on at the same time. The farther he gets away from the topic of Europe, the more accurate he becomes as he depicts our civilization (and all subsequent ones) as steadily moving towards a global unity. Oil runs out fairly quickly (once you’re looking at the world in terms of thousands of years) and we all depend on coal power until that runs out as well. Heading off the atheists, he says our civilization will cast aside the moral teachings of The Bible for the immature reason of the tales not being factually true and instead begin to worship science. The motion of the atom becomes divine and scientists become religious icons, and all the while people continue to remain as ignorant of its actual functions as before. ... [ = THE PROBLEM ]


THE LAST AND FIRST MEN - http://www.amazon.co.uk/Last-First-S-F-MASTERWORKS/dp/185798806X/ref=la_B000AP7BA2_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1460460760&sr=1-1

OLAF STAPLEDON PAGE - http://www.amazon.co.uk/Olaf-Stapledon/e/B000AP7BA2

Last edited by dai on Tue Apr 12, 2016 12:34 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 12, 2016 12:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote


Saints and Revolutionaries is a non-fiction work by the writer and philosopher Olaf Stapledon, published by Heinemann in 1939.

The book was part of the I Believe series, an initiative whereby leading British intellectuals of the day could pursue an argument pertinent to the times. Stapledon's friend Naomi Mitchison also contributed a volume to the series, as did J. D. Beresford, whose 1911 novel The Hampdenshire Wonder was an inspiration for Stapledon's own novel, Odd John.

Stapledon's book pursues themes familiar to readers of his science fiction – the universe and humanity's place in it, both personally and as a species. He argues that humanity is undergoing a period of rapid change and that our beliefs, and the nature of belief itself, are changing.


Saints, and Pacifism
Sceptics, and Morality
Revolutionaries, and Metaphysics
Mainly Speculation

EBOOK - 1932 EDITION - https://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/s/stapledon/olaf/saints/



Nihal Vrana rated it it was amazing

This is a seemingly lost book by an underappreciated genius. Thanks to my book-hound wife, I have a copy. Reading Stapledon books somehow makes me a better person; his cosmic approach to the state of things, be it in fiction or non-fiction, is ageless, refreshing and inspiring. I recommend anybody to read as many Stapledon books as they can get their hands on; they are works of pure beauty.

This book is particularly relevant as it delves into the mind of the world just before WWII, where there is a similar multifaceted global crisis similar to what we are going through today. The humanist and far-seeing approach to resolution of conflicts between different groups or mindsets can be illuminating for our contemporary problems too.




Stanislaw Lem - " ON STAPLEDON'S STAR MAKER " - in Vintage Visions: Essays on Early Science Fiction - edited by Arthur B. Evans - ISBN-10: 0819574384


" ... Stapledon depicts a panpsychozoic universe in which the primary nebulae, the stars, the galaxies, the planet inhabiting nations are all endowed with soul. The telepathic community of all of the civilisations, stars and gas clouds, fusing together in spiritual unity high above the level of mundane, existential matters is strongly reminiscent of the community of saints. But Stapledon does not describe the actual contents of these panpsychic connections, where they lead to or to what purpose. Instead he announces that human language is incapable of articulating them. We are therefore dealing with the concept of the ortho-evolution of panpsychism, according to which the positive, desirable gradient of the development of the universe is the " intermingling " of all of the existing minds within it with all of the others. This then is the highest value, the magnificent product which the universe bears forth with the greatest pain and effort, hrough the work of a myriad stars. It is the culmination which the universe strives towards. ... "


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 22, 2016 2:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am just bunging down some notes about youtube links on Olaf Stapledon -

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WpJ81sY63Cs - Star Maker - review by AUDIOPEDIA - Star Maker is a science fiction novel by Olaf Stapledon, published in 1937. The book describes a history of life in the universe, dwarfing in scale Stapledon's previous book, Last and First Men, a history of the human species over two billion years. Star Maker tackles philosophical themes such as the essence of life, of birth, decay and death, and the relationship between creation and creator. A pervading theme is that of progressive unity within and between different civilizations. Some of the elements and themes briefly discussed prefigure later fiction concerning genetic engineering and alien life forms. Arthur C. Clarke considered Star Maker to be one of the finest works of science fiction ever written.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lD-Jlercayk - ( from a BBC series ) Olaf Stapledon - The Si Fi Author - includes Arthur C Clark, Doris Lessing and his daughter Mary Shenai

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iD8wUBSRbiI - Introduction to LAST AND FIRST MEN (by Olaf Stapledon) - A multi-meida production featuring the music of Robert Fripp & Brian Eno's "Evening Star,' narrated by Dennis Morgan, and created with Wondershare Video Editor. Video background clips from Stargaze HD Universal Beauty.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Hr2kfLdcdg - Odd John - Book Review - 365 FRAMES 2015: Day 105 - 15/04/2015

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ctvvOyw7-8E - Last Men in London - Book Review - 365 FRAMES 2015: Day 172.1 - 21/06/2015

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I66_sYAELuc - Last and First Men - Book Review - 365 FRAMES 2015: Day 172.2 - 21 06 2015

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qxEUPOslUIU - Star Maker - Book Review - 365 FRAMES 2015: Day 143.2 - 23/05/2015 -

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2zUly7tXutg - Sirius - Book Review - 365 FRAMES 2015: Day 128 - 08/05/2015

SIRIUS - "Stapledon is taking a step back from the vast scale of some of his other works and ideas and really just... coming to terms with the everyday actions or essence or contemplations of what it is to be a human being or a creature that has been encouraged to think and feel like a human being, but ultimately struggles with that, there is a conflict within that person." [ SIRIUS IS CREATED OUT OF A DOG GIVEN A HUMAN MIND ]


SOUND TRACKS FOR THE ABOVE ... ? ... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cKJQv1oHEYI ... http://www.lastandfirstmenband.com

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pUDSt1hDjqw ...
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