TEMPEST, FLUTE, AND OZ by Frederick  Turner


Essays on the Future
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 A disappointing glimpse of things to come, from a poet and essayist (Spirit of Place; Of Chiles, Cacti, and Fighting Cocks- -both 1990, etc.) who ought to know better. The six essays collected here (from Harper's, Chronicles of Culture, etc.) all address the ``new order'' that Turner sees at hand, and attempt to provide an outline of how its philosophy, culture, economy, etc., will differ from anything to be found today--or, for that matter, ever before. ``Globalism'' is the watchword throughout: Simplified methods of communication and travel, Turner observes, have brought disparate changes into easy proximity, thus demanding new concepts of ``nation'' and ``race'' and undermining ancient hierarchies of thought and behavior: ``This book is an attempt...to articulate the spirit of the new epoch which will succeed modernism, and towards which postmodernism is an uneasy phase of transition.'' Unfortunately, Turner's articulation is meandering and self-absorbed to a fault. His first piece (``The Universal Solvent'') begins as a meditation on interculturalism, stumbles into an examination of the broadcasting medium, and tries to tie its themes together by an invocation of the earth's ecology (since ``we are Nature, and Nature is ourselves''). The essay ``Tempest, Flute, and Oz'' is an exegesis of Shakespeare, Mozart, and L. Frank Baum, and purports to show how modern science will provide us with a new myth of God as a sort of aging patriarch who has turned the business over to his children. The rest of the book deals with Martian colonization as a means of ``self-discovery'' (a not-very-original reworking of the old ``frontier theory''), artificial intelligence as a key to epistemology, and the ``big bang'' theory of creation. Turner seems unable to find a theme, playing with ideas rather developing them. As a collection of aphorisms, this has some merit, but there is insufficient focus for the sort of exposition that the author clearly intends.

Pub Date: Aug. 20th, 1991
ISBN: 0-89255-159-3
Page count: 192pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15th, 1991


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