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jimfluences

Posted by:
fnord 02:01 pm MST 04/16/18
In reply to: re: Lester Bangs - EvilNickname 01:14 pm MST 04/06/18

Jim's Dream Engine project (the original one, not the recent hits band) materialized in 1969, though he may have been working on it for a year or two before.

In 1965, author Philip Wylie (When Worlds Collide, Generation of Vipers, the Crunch and Des series) published a novel called They Were Both Naked. The novel is mainly about scandals among the super-rich but features a bit of scientific cogitation as well.

At one point the narrator (an author named Philip Wylie-- one of Wylie's conceits was to put a character much like himself into his stories so he could easily proselytize) is thinking about the science of human evolution and what separates humanity from the other apes. The consensus up to that time was that humans had a better understanding of engineering and math, which made their brains grow, and from there the human mind was able to focus on the arts, letting it, and its humanity, develop further.

However, there had been a recent hypothesis that countered this argument. Perhaps the bald ape's development was merely in response to other tribes and other animals finding better weapons. Human got smarter because they had to defend themselves against bigger creatures of tooth and nail, and then smarter human foes who could launch bigger rocks. The human mind as the result of an arms race.

While discussing this, the character Wylie phrases it as, "After completing the item about man's brain perhaps proving to be a huge claw rather than a dream engine..."

It would not surprise me if Jim were familiar with Wylie's work. Wylie was a very popular iconoclast in his time, and often controversial. Jim would have been a freshman in college with They Were Both Naked came out, and I can see him and his friends reading this then-shocking book, talking about it late into the night, and that short phrase lodging in Jim's mind for later use.

(I did a quick internet search for the phrase "dream engine" and found many many references. I don't know which is the oldest or who originally coined the phrase. Perhaps it too goes back to the 17th century.)



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