' John Wilcock - The Column of Lasting Insignificance for 26 January, 2013    
The column of lasting insignificance   Ojai Orange   blog   Books   Marijuana   Press   Archives   Contact

the column of lasting insignificance: June 1, 2013
by John Wilcock

ALMOST FORGOTTEN by most people are the adventurous spacecraft, Voyagers 1 and 2, which set off into the unknown more than 35 years ago. But having traveled more than eight billion miles—at speeds of 30,000mph—they are still sending messages back every day, although not of the kind understood by the laymen among us (“mass, speed, and direction of low-energy charged particles, cosmic rays and plasma waves”). The latest news is that both Voyagers are about to passed a milestone—from the heliosphere, the region still influenced by the sun, to interstellar space where nothing from earth has ever gone before.
Heliosphere map
Air&Space magazine (click on image for a larger view)
    The feeble signals from the plutonium-powered craft, which take 17 hours to arrive, will continue for another 12 years, after which they will go quiet, but “even with the power off the probes will continue their solitary march” explains Smithsonian's Air&Space magazine. “The Voyagers will then have no mission other than to exist. Long after life on Earth ends, these spacecraft will fly on, proof—if there's anything out there to recognize it—that a civilization on a small planet in the Milky Way galaxy once reached for the stars”.

WARP DRIVE is one those terms beloved of science fiction writers that imagines the possibility of traveling faster than light, a theory more or less at odds with the beliefs of a young Albert Einstein, then 26. ‘More or less’ is because few things are certain in the world of time-space and almost all of them are beyond the understanding of your humble reporter who confesses himself baffled by the concept of negative energy. This is the essential ingredient necessary to create the ‘bubble’ in space which would then be propelled at speed so fast that alpha centauri (4.3 light years distant—that's 25.6 trillion miles) could be reached in a week or two (Don't try this at home). Today's Einstein would be the physicist Harold Sonny White who, according to Popular Science, is relying on something he calls a quantum vacuum plasma thruster (QVPT) which his NASA report would propel the spaceship (bubble) in lieu of a fuel source.
    “Dr. White doesn't think this a problem” writes Konstantin Kakaes in PS. “When I ask him about it he says rather vaguely that a warp drive would work because of ‘an apparatus you have that's creating the conditions that you need’”.
    “Sonny is a pretty unique person” says his boss John Applewhite, head of NASA's Propulsion Systems Branch. “He's definitely a visionary but he's also an engineer. He can take his vision and turn it into a useful engineering product”. The question this raises, of course, is whether this entire vision could ever produce a useful product or exceed the dreams of even the most imaginative scifi writers. It would be impossible to get into such a bubble and nobody would emerge alive.
    One of the problems is that many scientists scoff at the possibility that negative energy, if indeed it exists, could be produced in sufficient quantity to propel anything. And PS comments: “(QVPT) would explode hundreds of nuclear weapons behind a space craft…(but) launching a spaceship loaded with hundreds of nuclear weapons is far from safe”.

THE BIG STORY as described in the recent issue of The New International magazine is HOUSING. They deal with the situation in various parts of the world that is almost always bad, dating from back in the 1980s when “capitalism went turbo….Led by Reagan and Thatcher and financial institutions like the IMF and the World Bank, this creed of greed has created global havoc”. When the period of fixed interest on their mortgages ran out, the mag writes, “the hapless homeowners” found the new interest rate was often double the old, due to the economic bubble they themselves were unwittingly part of creating….And mass pauperization would appear to be the plutocrats' goal: it provides a dirt cheap labor force”. What the city of the future will look like, it predicts: “enclaves of obscene wealth, linked by sprawling slums. Many cities have this appearance already”. Among solutions, it suggests, would be to somehow remove homes as far as possible from “the manipulations of the marketplace” by controlling private rents to an acceptable level (good luck with that) and “stopping the hoarding of housing resources by elites”.
    A parallel story offers a ray of hope from Spain, of all places. where the Platform for Mortgage Affected People (PAH) has set up 100 branches across the country dedicated to collectively fighting evictions by mass-blocking entrances, pressuring Congress and proposing changes in applicable laws. Allied with their efforts has been the Assembly of Locksmith Professionals who have declared they will not change the locks on houses under foreclosure proceedings.

PRIDE AND PREJUDICE is 200 years old this year and visitors to Jane Austen's last home, the 17th century Chawton Cottage in Hampshire, into which she moved with her mother in 1808, are increasing day by day. Jane did most of her writing there and the desk at which she worked, along with other period furniture, letters, and the quilt on which she and her mother collaborated are on view.” Aspirations of the 19th century middle class (neither rich nor poor) extend to getting their daughters married and thus ensuring longterm security for the entire family.
    In Pride and Prejudice, which depicts the striving social life of Austen's own era, the five daughters of a country gentleman and his wife cause particular anxiety, especially because headstrong Elizabeth, 20, insists on deciding her own destiny (an early example of women's lib). Elizabeth regards the apparent aloofness of their wealthy neighbor, Fitzwilliam Darcy, as excessive pride, and the manner in which her initial prejudice eventually gives way to a mutual love is the substance of the novel. It's a great story and a gloriously satisfying movie, in the latest version of which Keira Knightly portrays Elizabeth.
Chawton House
Click on the image for a virtual tour of Chawton Cottage
photo: Michael J. Sumner


    Long regarded as one of the great works of literature, the novel—which worldwide has sold 20 million copies—has undergone endless discussion and interpretation, including sometimes ridiculous adaptations in recent years.
    London travel agencies are increasingly directing fans to the Regency city of Bath to which Jane's father took the family after retiring from Steventon in neighboring Hampshire where he had been rector for 35 years. This is the first place on the recent list offered by BBC History of other spots associated with Austen, including Sidmouth, the scene of Jane's unfinished novel (she died in 1817 at 41). At this Devon resort, as at Lyme Regis 16 miles to the east, she would dress like all women bathers in long flannel robes and be wheeled out to sea in a wooden carriage to enter the water unobtrusively.
    Also on the BBC's route are Stoneleigh Abbey, near Kenilworth, for centuries the family seat of her mother and the model for Jane's novel Mansfield Park; and the 13th century ruins of Netley Abbey, near Southampton which were the model for her novel Northanger Abbey.

[JW is currently in Europe]

5/25/13

===========================

facebookfacebook

Powered byEMF Online Form

Email this link to a friend

Sign-up to receive this column weekly by email

send a comment to John Wilcock

===========================

recent columns...

- Complete column archives: 2006 - present

Dear Readers...
Week of January 25, 2017

John Wilcock ... Marijuana, the symbolic center of the underground society
Week of June 8, 2016

John Wilcock ... From the Archives: Cuba Diary—Havana, April 2011
Week of April 20, 2016

John Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Nineteen (continued)--Travels
Week of April 16, 2016

John Wilcock ... From the Archives: When you vote, don’t forget the Republican Paradox
Week of April 13, 2016

John Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Nineteen--Travels: Tokyo-Rick Kennedy recalls; Japan on $5 a Day; About Chapbooks; Magic in South America
Week of April 9, 2016

John Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Eighteen (continued)--Theory & Practice of Travel Writing; Remoteness of Callanish; Jim's Paris dinners
Week of April 2, 2016

John Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Eighteen--The Quest for Magic: Around Europe by VW bus; Regarding armchair travelers; Pisa's Leaning Tower; The magical Alhambra
Week of March 26, 2016

John Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Seventeen (continued)--London's Magical library; In the Cannes
Week of March 19, 2016

John Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Seventeen--The Sorcerer's Apprentice
Week of March 12, 2016

John Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Sixteen--JW'S Secret Diary (continued)
Week of March 5, 2016

John Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Sixteen--JW'S Secret Diary
Week of February 27, 2016

John Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Fourteen (Part Two--Manhattan phone book, JW'S Secret Diary
Week of February 20, 2016

John Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Fourteen--Party Circuit
Week of February 13, 2016

John Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Thirteen--Figaro Diary, part two, Soho Saturday
Week of February 6, 2016

John Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Thirteen--Figaro Diary, part one, Soho Saturday
Week of January 30, 2016

John Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Twelve (continued)--Traveling with Nomad; SoHo Confidential
Week of January 23, 2016

John-Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Twelve--Andy Gets Shot: Max's Kansas City; Jane Fonda's gesture; Christo & Jeanne-Claude
Week of January 16, 2016

John-Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Eleven (continued)-- We go to Rutgers, Ann Arbor ... What people say about Andy
Week of January 9, 2016

John-Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Eleven -- Andy Warhol First encounter....People talk about him....His movies...
Week of January 2, 2016

John-Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Chapter Ten (continued)--The 'Movement' splits: Eldridge Cleaver Year of the Great Hoax…The OZ trial
Week of December 26, 2015

John-Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Chapter Ten--Tom Forcade's smuggling funds High Times; Rolling Stone's underground sabotage
Week of December 19, 2015

John-Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Chapter Nine (continued)--Rip Torn on stardom… Robert Mitchum's gift; London: Julian Beck’s critique; Emmett Grogan and the Diggers; Greece: The Junta, Charlotte Rampling, and art hero Daniel Spoerri
Week of December 12, 2015

John-Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Chapter Nine--Bob Dylan in the Village, Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin, Richard Neville and OZ, What Does London Need Most?, The International Times
Week of December 5, 2015

John-Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Eight (continued)--Japan: a working honeymoon; The Shinjuku Sutra
Week of November 28, 2015

John-Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Eight--Art Kunkin's LA Free Press; In LA with Hunter Thompson, Lenny Bruce; Visit by Warhol; Hakim Jamal plays god; The San Francisco 'Be-In'; Underground papers meet
Week of November 21, 2015

John-Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Seven (continued)--The Underground Press; Army revolt:  fragging officers; Bowart goes to Millbrook
Week of November 14, 2015

Manhattan Memories: Chapter Seven--The singing Tit-o-Gram; The East Village Other; Art & Forgery; Birth of Black Power; The Underground Press
Week of November 7, 2015

Manhattan Memories: Chapter Six (continued)--Tom Forcade: smuggler supreme; That pathetic drug czar
Week of October 31, 2015

Manhattan Memories: Chapter Six—The weed that changed the world--Confessions of a pot smoker
Week of October 24, 2015

Manhattan Memories: Chapter Five—Reefer Madness (continued)--Jan and Stan change my life; The man who turned on the world
Week of October 17, 2015

Manhattan Memories: Chapter Five—Reefer Madness--The man who turned on the world; Tested by Harvard professors; Jan and Stan change my life
Week of October 10, 2015

Manhattan Memories: Chapter Four—Into the '60s--London's underground press; Jean-Jacques Lebel burns US flag; Everybody's friend: Jim Haynes; Lenny Bruce and the kitchen tapes
Week of October 3, 2015

Manhattan Memories: Chapter Four—Into the '60s--More Working at The New York Times; Mexico On $5 a Day; What Richard Condon taught me; Henry Miller's wise words
Week of September 26, 2015

Manhattan Memories: Chapter Three--The Village Voice (continued) --Lasting insignificance: the 3-dot column, ECHO  and Larry Adler, Woody Allen plays classic nerd, A sample Village Square column
Week of September 19, 2015

Manhattan Memories: Chapter Three--More trouble with our star novelist; Lasting insignificance: the 3-dot column; Jean Shepherd’s phantom novel
Week of September 12, 2015

Manhattan Memories: Chapter Two--Steve Allen derides TV columnist; Marlene Dietrich--glamorous grandmother
Week of September 5, 2015

Manhattan Memories: Chapter Two--Gilbert Seldes' The Lively Arts; Norman Mailer’s Voice column; Giving parties to meet strangers
Week of August 29, 2015

Manhattan Memories: Chapter One--Chatting with Marilyn Monroe
Week of August 22, 2015

Manhattan Memories: Chapter One--Jack Kent Cooke tells me to stay in Canada; Becoming a New Yorker ;A new Village newspaper; The casual wisdom of Steve Allen
Week of August 15, 2015

Manhattan Memories: Introduction.
Week of August 8, 2015

- column archives: 2006 - present



in the press...

Now on Boing-Boing!
May 2, 2013

The New York Years - Issue 3 The New York Years
Wednesday,
October 27, 2010

A Budget Travel Pioneer on a Time When $5 a Day Was Real (Frugal) Money
nytimes.com: Frugal Traveler

by Seth Kugel
John Wilcock at the New York Times

It was the first handwritten letter I'd received in 5 years. Or maybe 10. Signed by John Wilcock, a man I'd never heard of, and postmarked Ojai, Calif., it was waiting for me when I returned from my São Paulo-to-New York summer trip. Mr. Wilcock wrote that he had been an assistant editor at The Times Travel section back in the 1950s, and had written the first editions of “Mexico on $5 a Day,” “Greece on $5 a Day” and “Japan on $5 a Day” for Arthur Frommer in the 1960s.

By George, I thought. This man was the original Frugal Traveler.

(read more)


A Guide to Occult Britain

Forty years ago the second of my three books about magic was published, A Guide to Occult Britain (Sidgwick & Jackson) covering a wide range of sites from Stonehenge to Loch Ness and King Arthur country to the witches of Pendle Hill. It is now available as an eBook on amazon.com.

Manhattan MemoriesManhattan Memories
An Autobiography
by John Wilcock

"A GOOD WAY to describe John Wilcock is to say that he is a talented bohemian counter-culture journalist who once played a major role in the emergence of America’s underground press. Born 1927 in Sheffield, England, he left school aged 16 to work on various newspapers in England, and on Toronto periodicals before moving to New York City. There in 1955 he became one of the five founders of the Village Voice in which he and co-founder Norman Mailer wrote weekly columns. Wilcock called his column “The Village Square”, an intended pun. He and young Mailer were not quite friends, although Wilcock was at times annoyed, but always amused, by Mailer’s monstrous ego."

-From the preface of Manhattan Memories, by Martin Gardner



The Autobiography and Sex Life of Andy Warhol

The Autobiography and Sex Life of Andy Warhol
by John Wilcock
Edited by Christopher Trela
Photographs by Shunk-Kender


Village Voice and Interview cofounder John Wilcock was first drawn into the milieu of Andy Warhol through film-maker Jonas Mekas, assisting on some of Warhol's early films, hanging out at his parties and quickly becoming a regular at the Factory. “About six months after I started hanging out at the old, silvery Factory on West 47th Street,” he recalls, “[Gerard] Malanga came up to me and asked, ‘When are you going to write something about us?’” Already fascinated by Warhol's persona, Wilcock went to work, interviewing the artist's closest associates, supporters and superstars. Among these were Malanga, Naomi Levine, Taylor Mead and Ultra Violet, all of whom had been in the earliest films; scriptwriter Ronnie Tavel, and photographer Gretchen Berg; art dealers Sam Green, Ivan Karp, Eleanor Ward and Leo Castelli, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Henry Geldzahler; the poets Charles Henri Ford and Taylor Mead, and the artist Marisol; and the musicians Lou Reed and Nico. Paul Morrisey supplied the title: The Autobiography and Sex Life of Andy Warhol was the first oral biography of the artist. First published in 1971, and pitched against the colorful backdrop of the 1960s, it assembles a prismatic portrait of one of modern art's least knowable artists during the early years of his fame. The Autobiography and Sex Life is likely the most revealing portrait of Warhol, being composite instead of singular; each of its interviewees offers a piece of the puzzle that was Andy Warhol. This new edition corrects the many errors of the first, and is beautifully designed in a bright, Warholian palette with numerous illustrations. The British-born writer John Wilcock co-founded The Village Voice in 1955, and went on to edit seminal publications such as The East Village Other, Los Angeles Free Press, Other Scenes and (in 1970) Interview, with Andy Warhol.