Robert sez, "Dungeons & Dragons, now celebrating its 40th anniversary, is about to release its new Monster Manual -- the original Monster Manual was a watershed moment in human history, part of a history that includes a 16th century bestiary, the Augsburg Book of Miracles; bestiaries reveal our profoundly human desire for an enchanted, magical world."
A bestiary can both catalogue the threat of our demise and foretell the joy of a new world; it is a story of grotesque threats and glorious salvation. Indeed—as cartographers knew long before recent conspiracy theorists saw the Loch Ness Monster in Apple Maps—at the limits of our knowledge, at the frontiers of our imagination, here be dragons!
For many, The Monster Manual was a monster itself; it provoked fear among Christian conservatives and provided a locus for the kind of moral panic and public rhetoric that Dr. Leslie Smith has recently labeled “chaos rhetoric.” And perhaps those fears were, in some sense, well-founded; for like The Book of Miracles, The Monster Manual foretold a new world, not just a world of the imagination.
For the past decade or so, it has been obvious that D&D was not simply the idle play of disaffected teen boys; it was the game that launched a thousand careers—and ten times a thousand new worlds. Once ridiculed as the escape of disaffected teenagers, D&D is now revered for its influence on authors, technical innovators, and even humble academics. The Monster Manual was, for so many, not just the escape from mundane reality, but a dive into progressive dreams about what the world ought to be.
Monstrous Futures: Dungeons & Dragons, Harbinger of the “None” Generation, Turns 40 [Robert M. Geraci/Religion Dispatches]
Have you ever wanted to find a book, but you don’t know the title? This video and article from Make Use Of has some ideas that could help. Suggestions include using Google Book Search, BookFinder, WorldCat, The Library of Congress, and Ask a Librarian. Image: Jumpstory/CC0
If you’re in the market for book recommendations to fill up your stay-at-home hours, here’s a short list of favorites from Bill Gates. Check out his longer list on his blog, GatesNotes blog.
I’m honored that in the latest issue of The Burning Shore, Erik Davis, scholar of West Coast counterculture, reviewed The Family Acid: California, Roger Steffens’s far-out photo album I published with my Ozma Records partner Tim Daly! Erik’s excellent essay is a double review, also focusing on the Anthology Editions reprint of Dennis Stock’s striking […]
After two months, all those stockpiled snacks and days spent indoors have likely taken their toll. If you happened to pick up a few pounds during quarantine, join the club. However, you may be thinking that it’s time — or maybe, well past time — to get back on that fitness horse. Rather than heading […]
Last year, over 43 million Americans hit the road to celebrate Memorial Day, the unofficial start of summer. That was the second-highest travel volume this century, according to AAA, but with COVID-19 fears and quarantine orders only now starting to ease, it’s safe to say this year probably won’t attract numbers anywhere close to that […]
It doesn’t do you much good to come up with a brilliant concept that you can’t translate into a working real-world prototype. Whether you’re thinking about building a home, a mechanical tool or a toy, that’s where the magic of computer-aided design and drafting software like AutoCAD comes into play. The longtime leader in the […]