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1. Reflections on Which Dreams May Manifest in Waking Life

Dreams can help keep us healthy.

Hippocrates of Kos taught about dreams indicating illnesses.


If you faithfully keep a dream journal you will notice, over time, many things and events that you dream about come true in waking life. It may be the sequence of events that particularly manifest or it may be that you see a person in dreamtime you never met before–but several months after the dream you meet that person in waking life. Then there are some dreams that don’t appear to have any relationship to current reality or seem so bizarre and surrealistic that it doesn’t seem they could ever be making a true statement about anything.

This raises the question of how do you know if a dream might manifest in waking life? From nearly forty years of dreamwork, I have made these observations about my own dreams. You might see if they apply to your own.

  1. Very realistic dreams tend to manifest in waking life. If I have a dream that is realistic and probable, i.e., I am driving my own car and not some fantasy car, then it probably has something to do with manifesting something in waking life. For example, any physical ailment which I knew about ahead of time in dreamtime presented quite literally and showed up later on a medical test as when years ago I had a dream in which a voice said I had blood in my stool. A medical test actually concurred with that even though a later colonoscopy proved it was nothing to worry about. This rule applies also in cases where the symbolism is present but there is a clear resemblance such as dreaming of having overflowing pipes and end up having diarrhea. This is possible because there is a close proximity to the symbol and waking reality. In fact, Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, said much medical and diagnostic information of this sort could be gained from similar dreams.
  2. Somewhat surrealistic or unrealistic events may be relating events in the far off future. Years ago I had a series of dreams in which I was traveling around Hawaii with my brother. At the time I was living in Massachusetts, and so the possibility of this happening seemed a little far-fetched. The island’s scenery was stylized in my dream, not being typical of a specific place on any of the islands. Yet, as I read my dream journal years later, I found that after I moved to Hawaii, we did travel around the island of Oahu as we did in the dream, and we shared certain concerns that showed up in those early dreams.
  3. Very surrealistic dreams tend to be making a statement about the interior world of the dreamer. Really bizarre, odd or unusual objects in places they don’t usually belong, such as a rare or extinct species of owl in a refrigerator, are most often aspects of the dreamer and need to be looked at as such by asking, “What about me is like this owl?” or “What about me is like the refrigerator?” In this type of dream, I personally have not seen a close or frequent connection to events or objects manifesting in waking life such as opening the refrigerator and finding a rare spotted owl perched next to the orange juice.

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2. Jodi Picoult, Cary Elwes, Mac Barnett, & Jon Klassen Debut On the Indie Bestseller List

As You WishWe’ve collected the books debuting on Indiebound’s Indie Bestseller List for the week ending October 19, 2014–a sneak peek at the books everybody will be talking about next month.

(Debuted at #2 in Hardcover Fiction) Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult: “For more than a decade, Jenna Metcalf has never stopped thinking about her mother, Alice, who mysteriously disappeared in the wake of a tragic accident. Refusing to believe she was abandoned, Jenna searches for her mother regularly online and pores over the pages of Alice’s old journals. A scientist who studied grief among elephants, Alice wrote mostly of her research among the animals she loved, yet Jenna hopes the entries will provide a clue to her mother’s whereabouts.” (October 2014)

(more…)

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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3. Large-Screen Nook Makes Its Debut

large nookSamsung and Barnes & Noble have developed a new big-screen version of the Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 Nook. Customers can purchase it starting today at 650 Barnes & Noble brick-and-mortar stores and online.

According to the press release, this new NOOK features a 10.1-inch HD display which is the largest screen that has ever been made available on this device. It weighs 17.28 ounces.

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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4. 50 States Against Bullying: WASHINGTON, D.C.

The eleventh stop on my 50 States Against Bullying campaign took me to...a district. Not a state, a district! I guess the organizers of the campaign thought 50 States Plus 1 District Against Bullying was a bit wordy.

This was my third time speaking in or around Washington, D.C., and one day I need to visit when I have time to really explore. This time, though rainy, I made my way a few blocks from my hotel to see the White House. The rain made it even more beautiful than the last time I saw it!


The next day, I spoke at the Washington International School. Being in Washington, D.C., I wasn't surprised to find lots of secret doors, such as this one, which guarded my carry-on bag while I spoke to the students.


The historic buildings that made up the campus were beautiful, and the librarian told me a little about the history of the place as we walked to where I'd be speaking. She also lent me a polka-dot umbrella, which was very kind.

On our way to the library, if you look over the soccer field, you can see the Washington National Cathedral. The top of the cathedral is still being renovated after the 2011 earthquake.



If the soccer field at my high school had a view like this, I might have been more inclined to learn the rules and play. (Apparently, according to my plAYSOccer coach, it involves more than simply running after a ball and kicking it hard. But, seriously, that's the most fun part!)


As the students began to arrive, they noticed piles of cookies set out for after my presentation. But you can't leave cookies out and tell people they have to wait. Especially not if you want them to focus on the presenter and not think about cookies! So they "released" the goodies early and a swarm of students quickly descended.


High on sugar, they were a very responsive audience!



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5. Why I Do Author Visits at Schools

In the mail this week came a fat envelope full of letters from second graders at Sampson Elementary, which I visited during my week of school visits in Houston. I've read them over and over again. Here are some of my favorite lines, with the original spelling reproduced as best I can.

Adam, liking my titles Kelsey Green, Reading Queen, Annika Riz, Math Whiz, and Izzy Barr, Running Star, suggested I write Jackson Baxter, Writing Master. Thomas, hearing that I was stuck on a rhyming title for my work-in-progress about know-it-all Simon Ellis, suggested Simon Ellis, King of Jealous. Great titles, you two!

The kids always like best the ape dance I perform at the end of my assemblies (don't ask!). One of them wrote, "I was laughing so hard I couldn't see or breathe." Another wrote, "I almost did my scream laugh."

Blake told me, "You are one of the best athers I know. I have not read one of your book's but I just know they are reily good. I hope a lot more of your books get publisht. Try to get 20 book's or more publisht in a row that would be awsom." Blake, I couldn't agree more! I'll pass this on to my editor.

Jillian asked, "How many scools have you been to? I think you have bean to a lot! I mean, watt athor rites great books and do's not go to a lot of scools?"

Maria: "I think you are vary prity and nice." Aw, shucks, Maria!

Ava: "War do you git your story idews? I git min from my dog."

Sophie: "What year were you born in. You look like your thert five." I'll take it!

A different Sophie already has a main character for her new story: "Billy the Bad. He is vary bad."

Emily, a "shy arther" herself, sympathized with my report of all the criticism I get on my drafts from my writing group: "I feel like you in your book club my older sister reads my books and she herst my feelings a lot of times."

A third Sophie told me her reading goals: "I want to read more chapter books to impress my teacher Mrs. Hopper."

And finally, Madison told me: "When I get home I'm  going to write a book." Yes, yes, yes!

And this is why I love to do author visits at schools.

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6. My Neighbor Japsang




Once upon a long ago, I traveled to Seoul, Korea, and visited Changdeokgung Palace.  What a marvel, a historical site rich in history and culture nestled within a bustling and modern city.  I was enchanted by the architecture and blossoming gardens and the beautiful, hungry koi.  But I also spied with my little eye something that would capture my imagination most of all.  On the corners of the rooftop of the main palace building stood little figures, all lined up as if scanning the horizon.  These, I later learned, are called Japsang.  Each figure has its own name.  Delightful!  They are meant to be decorative but also serve to chase away evil spirits.  

I snapped a picture, blew it up, and it has hung on my living room wall ever since.  

Below is a picture inspired by the Japsang and Totoro.  Maybe sitting on the roof while thunderous-looking clouds loom overhead is not the best idea, but I'd like to think the squishy blue guys will keep the kids safe.


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7. Call for Submissions of Experimental Writing: Best American Experimental Writing 2015

Best American Experimental Writing 2015, to be published by Wesleyan University Press next fall, is now accepting unsolicited submissions. Fully 20% of the 2015 anthology will comprise unsolicited works selected blind by the series co-editors, Jesse Damiani and Seth Abramson, and this year's guest editor, Douglas Kearney. 

Interested poets and writers can read the guidelines and access Wesleyan's Submittable page here

The deadline for submissions is November 1st. We look forward to reading your work!

Jesse Damiani
Seth Abramson
Series Co-Editors, Best American Experimental Writing


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8. There's Still Time To Enter the Free it's A Ruff Life Competition!

It's not worth beating around the bush.  It's A Ruff Life's Free Book competition with Goodreads will be closing in 2 Days. - If you hurry you still have time to enter to win the signed copy of It's A Ruff Life.  Below is the Link.



Goodreads Book Giveaway

It's a Ruff Life by B.R. Tracey

It's a Ruff Life

by B.R. Tracey

Giveaway ends October 25, 2014.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win

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9. Call for Historical Crime and Mystery Fiction Submissions for Anthology: Darkhouse Books

Darkhouse Books seeks stories for an anthology of historical crime and mystery fiction. For the purpose of this anthology we are defining historical fiction as, those works set more than a few decades prior to the present and written by someone without direct experience in the setting and events of the story. But should a truly superb story happen to stray from the above strictures and cross our threshold, we would happily consider it.

The submission period is now open and will remain open through 11:59pm (PST), December 31st, 2014.


We are seeking stories in the 2500 to 7500 word range, though if it’s knockout material, we’ll consider any length.

 
The anthology will contain between twelve and twenty stories, depending on the overall length. Authors will share equally fifty percent of royalties received.

 
We accept MS Word .doc and .docx files. Submissions must be in standard manuscript format. Previously published work will be considered, provided the author has the power to grant us the right to publish in ebook, audio, and print versions, and that it has not been available elsewhere more recently than January 1st, 2014.


Submissions may be sent to:

submissionsATdarkhousebooksDOTcom Change AT to @ and DOT to . )

Please leave “Submission-“ in the subject line and add the name of your story.


Now available "The Anthology of Cozy-Noir"!

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10. Indies First Launches The Upstream Initiative

Indies FirstThe organizers behind the Indies First campaign are launching a new initiative called Upstream. The team asks that participating writers sign copies of their books and have them be sold at the independent bookstores of their choice.

Daniel Handler (a.k.a. Lemony Snicket) has posted a message to his colleagues imploring them to take part. He also encourages authors to promote this program. Here’s an excerpt from Handler’s letter:

“Will Upstream rescue us all from strife and worry? Of course not. But the hope is that it will remind both authors and booksellers of their local, less monolithic resources, and to improve general esprit de corps at a disheartening time.”

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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11. Writing Competition: Sequestrum's Editor's Reprint Award

Sequestrum is accepting submissions for our first annual Editor's Reprint Award! For complete guidelines, visit our website.
 

Contest Guidelines:

Open to reprints of fiction and nonfiction in any original format (electronic or print).

One $200 prize plus publication.
One runner-up prize including publication and payment (just above our usual rates). Finalists listed on the site.


$15 entry fee.
Tentative close date of April 30th
. (See site for details)

Include the name and email address of the original publisher in your cover letter.
Length and subject are open.
Submit via our online submission system.
Manuscripts reviewed on a rolling-basis.
Multiple submissions allowed.

No identifying information should be on your manuscript.

Not previously published? No worries! We're always accepting general submissions. Send them here.


About Sequestrum:
We average 1,000+ readers a month, keep our archives free and open to the public, are a paying market, and pair all our publications with stunning visual arts created by outside artists or our staff. Our contributors range from award-winning novelists and poets (with other works featured in publications including The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The American Scholar, The Kenyon Review, many other university periodicals, and Best American Anthologies) to emerging voices and first-time writers.


We're proud of our little plot on the literary landscape and the writers and artists we share it with. Come see why.

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12. IT'S THIS WEEKEND!!!


 
Alternative Press Pop-Up / 24th - 26th October 2014 / 139 Greenwich South St  SE10 8NX
 
IT'S THIS WEEKEND!!!
 
DIY Art Show and pop-up zine outlet.
 
Come and see art work, self published
comix, zines, art-books and poetry
pamphlets.
Check out our website here.
Come along over the weekend and,
share ideas, swap zines, buy, sell,
see and do.

Opening times:

Friday, Public View 7 - 11pm
Saturday 11 am - 6pm
(screenprinting workshop 1pm)
Sunday 11am - 6pm
(screenings 1pm)

 
See ya!

 
AP
XX
Alternative Press / London / alternativepress.org.uk         

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13. Call for Submissions: Prime Number Magazine

Prime Number Magazine is open for submissions! We're especially looking for excellent creative nonfiction (under 5000 words) and short essays (under 1000 words) in addition to short stories (under 5000 words), flash fiction (under 750 words), and poetry. (Book reviews and interviews, too, but query the Books editor first.) In all categories, we're looking for distinctive work. 

Full Submission Guidelines here

And check out our latest issue, #61.

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14. I Declare I am not at War or War Between Authors and Readers? Seriously?

So, I am just a random author in Maine. That's about it. I'm the daughter of a truck mechanic and Welcome Wagon hostess (They did switch jobs a lot, but that's pretty much what I think of them as). I'm not a super-connected author who gets to hang out anywhere super cool and be hip. And I am pretty much a bystander about the big things that happen in the world of writing for children and young adults.

Other authors don't speak for me. I don't speak for other authors. I can't even imagine it.

Mostly when I witness negative interactions, I feel badly for everyone involved. I feel for reviewers who are attacked by authors. I feel for authors who are attacked by reviewers. I feel for any profession, any group of people that are lumped together, stereotyped and attacked because of what they do, their ancestry, their gender identification, their religous identification, ethnic history, employment history, or political party or sexual orientation or income level. Unfortunately, this happens all the time.

What really bothers me is when opinion pieces or news stories do that. This headline in Salon? It does that.Screen Shot 2014-10-22 at 3.11.36 PM


No offense to the headline writers, but I am not engaged in any war. I'm not in a war with bloggers or readers. I'm not in a war with fellow authors. Kathleen Hale is not revealing anything about me.

There is no war waging. There are no flank formations going on. There are no weapons. Even if you count words and news stories as weapons. It is still not a war.

Do you know what war is?

War is death. Homes blown apart. Children broken. Lives ripped apart. Limbs separated from bodies. War is two or more sides trying to destroy each other in an attempt to grab some kind of power. It's an organized effort.

Holding people accountable for their actions is not war. Calling people out on their behaviour is not war.

Even if you go by a more mellow definition of war, what happens between the reading community and the writing community still doesn't fit. I'm not involved in a state of conflict. I'm not antagonizing readers or bloggers or reviewers and I sure don't feel like they are antagonizing me.

I pretty much love readers and bloggers and reviewers. It's not an oppositional relationship. It's a symbiotic one.

And incidents like the one involving author Kathleen Hale, her Guardian story, and reviewer Blythe Harris are not representative of an entire community. Two people are never representative of an entire community and it is simplistic to believe so. Even 100 people aren't. And a community like this? Even 1,000 people don't cut it. Writers and bloggers and reviewers come in all ages, all genders, all races and religions. And some (Gasp!) don't live in the U.S. And some (Gasp!) don't even use the internet.

While some writers or bloggers occasionally band together to call out for what they believe is justice via a boycott or twitter hashtag, that still doesn't equal war.  It doesn't usually even count as a representative group. It counts as advocating for themselves or calling out what they perceive as an injustice. And you know what? That's pretty cool.

But the thing is...

I know people who have been in wars. I know people who have seen terror.

This is not it.

Individuals behaving badly does not indict an entire profession. Other people calling them out on it does not make a war between two groups even if those groups have different viewpoints and feelings. To think so? That's a generalization that creates bigotry. I used to be a newspaper editor. I understand headlines. I understand that hyperbole sells. But that doesn't mean we should feed into it.

I am not at war with anyone. I hope you aren't either. I happen to love the writing community and the blogging community and reviewers who take the time to read and comment about books (even when they hate them). How cool is that? It's super cool. Actually, it's pretty amazing. It's called engagement. Not war. And engagement is something our world needs more of, not less.

So, I am declaring an un-War. I hope you'll join me.

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15. Longreads’ Best of WordPress, Vol. 7

Here it is! A new collection of our favorite stories from across all of WordPress.

As always, you can find our past collections here. You can follow Longreads on WordPress.com for more daily reading recommendations, or subscribe to our free weekly email.

Publishers, writers, you can share links to your favorite essays and interviews (over 1,500 words) on Twitter (#longreads) and on WordPress.com by tagging your posts longreads.


1. What Happens When a Veteran High School Teacher Becomes a Student for the Day

Grant Wiggins

“I waited fourteen years to do something that I should have done my first year of teaching: shadow a student for a day.” A high school teacher learns some sobering lessons about how kids experience a typical day — and the amount of sitting required.

2. No Apology

Mehreen Kasana

The truth about being Muslim in America:

In the eyes of those perpetually seeking an apology from Muslims, I am a Bad Muslim. I don’t put hashtag-suffixed apologies online for what someone else of my faith does. When 9/11 happened, I was as shocked and terrified as anyone else was. We scary-looking Muslims experience human emotions, too. … We Muslims react to unexpected loss of life like any non-Muslim would. We cry, we mourn.

3. The Rise and Fall of Public Housing in NYC

Richard Price, Guernica

A “subjective overview” of the history of public housing in New York City from the novelist Richard Price, framed through the lens of his own upbringing in the North Bronx’s Parkside Houses.

4. Ways Men In Tech Are Unintentionally Sexist

Kat Hagan, This Is Not a Pattern

How our behavior and language can have a harmful impact — and how we can fix it. “Small, simple changes will build the foundation for a better tech culture.”

5. Gone Girls: Human Trafficking on the Home Front

Mike Kessler, Los Angeles Magazine

Kessler talks to survivors of child prostitution, as well as law enforcement officers, judges, politicians, and advocates working to prevent the sex trafficking of minors.

6. The Evans Family Is Living in This World

Linda Vaccariello, Cincinnati Magazine

A community comes together to help a family after a tragedy:

“The reality hit me like nothing I’d ever experienced,” McDonald says. “She had no one. I couldn’t imagine what that was like.” McDonald went to Ao, threw her arm around the sobbing woman’s shoulders, and said, “We’ll help you.”

7. The Plunge

Carl Schreck, Grantland

The story of Shavarsh Karapetyan, a Soviet swimming champion who dove into Armenia’s Lake Yerevan and saved dozens of lives from a sinking trolleybus.

8. How Pixar’s Gurus Brought the Magic Back to Disney Animation

Caitlin Roper, Wired

A profile of John Lasseter and Ed Catmull, whose intense focus on storytelling helped revive Disney’s animation studio with hits like Frozen and Wreck-It Ralph.

9. ‘I Am Darren Wilson’: St. Louis and the Geography of Fear

Sarah Kendzior & Umar Lee, Quartz

St. Louis is a city long on the run from itself. White flight has spread from suburbia to exurbia, while decades of black demands — for better jobs, better schools, better treatment—go unheeded. This is a region deprived of resources, forcing residents to scrounge for more fertile terrain.

10. Stephen Powers Puts the Writing on the Wall

Neima Jahromi, Bklynr

From the magazine Bklynr, a profile of the street artist behind some of Brooklyn’s most recognizable murals.

Photo: dystopos, Flickr


Filed under: Community, Reading, WordPress, WordPress.com

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16. Prologues

Not all prologues are created equal. 

http://ingridsnotes.wordpress.com/2014/09/16/4-types-of-prologues/

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17. Is it Middle Grade or Chapter Book?

You've finished that first draft of your middle grade novel. But now taking a long look, maybe not. Maybe it is a Chapter book. Or is it? 
How can you tell? Now it's not as clear as you first thought in your rapid fire, getting it all out on paper and spouting out to everyone, "I'm working on a middle grade story."
Going back to read or reread all the books that seem the slightest bit similar sometimes helps. And sometimes doesn't -
I found a blog by Emma Walton Hamilton with a clear way to compare.
She uses clues about: 
Audience
Age of Protagonist
Length
Illustration
Content
Yes, there are always exceptions!
I'm still researching every chapter and middle grade book I can get my hands on, but each morsel of information helps me on my journey.


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18. Time again for LULA'S BREW!

Teachers, are you looking for a good Halloween book to share with your young gargoyles? Might I suggest my picture book, LULA'S BREW to get in the spirit?
     Lula's Aunties want her to be a witch like them. But Lula prefers to study cookbooks rather than spellbooks (and hates to fly on a broom). Lula wants to be a famous chef. In desperation, the Aunties insist she try to make one last potion. Lula secretly adds her cooking flair and in true witchy fashion creates a brew that bewitches the entire town, and her Aunties too!
     LULA'S BREW is available in hardcover from your local bookseller (they might have to order it, so don't wait!), and also on the iPhone, iTouch, iPad, Nook Color, Kindle, and as a .pdf. Visit the activity page for all options, to download free activities (and a recipe for the BREW), and to see some cool videos. Bwahahaha!

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19. Call for Submissions from California Community College English Instructors: Inside English


Inside English is accepting submissions from writers teaching at a California community college for its spring 2015 issue. Deadline is January 15 and theme is teaching.

Inside English is the pedagogical publication of the English Council of California Two-Year Colleges and reserves First North American Serial Rights.

We accept simultaneous submissions, but please notify us immediately if your work is accepted elsewhere.

Paste your submission in the body of the email to:
 
 couringATsbccDOTedu (Change AT to @ and DOT to . )
 
Also include a fifty-word biography including the California community college(s) where you teach.

In the subject line include the genre of the submission, title(s) and your name (Flash Fiction, “Restless Nights,” Marilyn Morgan)

We accept the following genres:

Flash Fiction: 1-2 pieces, a total of 1000 words.

Poetry: 1-2 poems, no more then 50 lines each.

Flash Creative Nonfiction: 1-2 pieces, a total of 1000 words.


Dr. Chella Courington, Creative Editor
Santa Barbara City College

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20. Excerpt: Packaged Pleasures

9780226121277
by Gary S. Cross and Robert N. Proctor

 ***

“The Carrot and the Candy Bar”

Our topic is a revolution—as significant as anything that has tossed the world over the past two hundred years. Toward the end of the nineteenth century, a host of often ignored technologies transformed human sensual experience, changing how we eat, drink, see, hear, and feel in ways we still benefit (and suffer) from today. Modern people learned how to capture and intensify sensuality, to preserve it, and to make it portable, durable, and accessible across great reaches of social class and physical space. Our vulnerability to such a transformation traces back hundreds of thousands of years, but the revolution itself did not take place until the end of the nineteenth century, following a series of technological changes altering our ability to compress, distribute, and commercialize a vast range of pleasures.

Strangely, historians have neglected this transformation. Indeed, behind this astonishing lapse lies a common myth—that there was an age of production that somehow gave rise to an age of consumption, with historians of the former exploring industrial technology, while historians of the latter stress the social and symbolic meaning of goods. This artificial division obscures how technologies of production have transformed what and how we actually consume. Technology does far more than just increase productivity or transform work, as historians of the Industrial Revolution so often emphasize. Industrial technology has also shaped how and how much we eat, what we wear and why, and how and what (and how much!) we hear and see. And myriad other aspects of how we experience daily life—or even how we long for escape from it.

Bound to such transformations is a profound disruption in modern life, a breakdown of the age-old tension between our bodily desires and the scarcity of opportunities for fulfillment. New technologies— from the rolling of cigarettes to the recording of sound—have intensified the gratification of desires but also rendered them far more easily satisfied, often to the point of grotesque excess. An obvious example is the mechanized packaging of highly sugared foods, which began over a century ago and has led to a health and moral crisis today. Lots of media attention has focused on the irresponsibility of the food industry and the rise of recreational and workplace sedentism—but there are other ways to look at this.

It should be obvious that technology has transformed how people eat, especially with regard to the ease and speed with which it is now possible to ingest calories. Roots of such transformations go very deep: the Neolithic revolution ten-plus thousand years ago brought with it new methods of regularizing the growing of food and the world’s first possibility of elite obesity. The packaged pleasure revolution in the nineteenth century, however, made such excess possible for much larger numbers of “consumers”—a word only rarely used prior to that time. Industrial food processors learned how to pack fat, sugar, and salt into concentrated and attractive portions, and to manufacture these cheaply and in packages that could be widely distributed. Foods that were once luxuries thus became seductively commonplace. This is the first thing we need to understand.

We also need to appreciate that responsibility for the excesses of today’s consumers cannot be laid entirely at the doors of modern technology and the corporations that benefit from it. We cannot blame the food industry alone. No one is forced to eat at McDonald’s; people choose Big Macs with fries because they satisfy with convenience and affordability, just as people decide to turn on their iPods rather than listen to nature or go to a concert. But why would we make such a choice—and is it entirely a “free choice”? This brings us to a second crucial point: humans have evolved to seek high-energy foods because in prehistoric conditions of scarcity, eating such foods greatly improved their ancestors’ chances of survival. This has limited, but not entirely eliminated, our capacity to resist these foods when they no longer are scarce. And if we today crave sugar and fat and salt, that is partly because these longings must have once promoted survival, deep in the pre-Paleolithic and Paleolithic. Our taste buds respond gleefully to sugars because we are descended from herbivores and especially frugivores for whom sweet-tasting plants and fruits were neuro-marked as edible and nutritious. Poisonous plants were more often bitter-tasting. Pleasure at least in this sensory sense was often a clue to what might help one survive.

But here again is the rub. Thanks to modern industrialism, high-calorie foods once rare are now cheap and plentiful. Industrial technology has overwhelmed and undercut whatever balance may have existed between the biological needs of humans and natural scarcity. We tend to crave those foods that before modern times were rare; cravings for fat and sugar were no threat to health; indeed, they improved our chances of survival. Now, however, sugar, especially in its refined forms, is plentiful, and as a result makes us fat and otherwise unhealthy. And what is true for sugar is also true for animal fat. In our prehistoric past fat was scarce and valuable, accounting for only 2 to 4 percent of the flesh of deer, rabbits, and birds, and early humans correctly gorged whenever it was available. Today, though, factory-farmed beef can consist of 36 percent fat, and most of us expend practically no energy obtaining it. And still we gorge.

And so the candy bar, a perfect example of the engineered pleasure, wins out over the carrot and even the apple. More sugar and seemingly more varied flavors are packed into the confection than the unprocessed fruit or vegetable. In this sense our craving for a Snickers bar is partly an expression of the chimp in us, insofar as we desire energy-packed foods with maximal sugars and fat. The concentration, the packaging, and the ease of access (including affordability) all make it possible—indeed enticingly easy—to ingest far more than we know is good for us. Our biological desires have become imperfect guides for good behavior: drives born in a world of scarcity do not necessarily lead to health and happiness in a world of plenty.

But food is not the only domain where such tensions operate. Indeed, a broader historical optic reveals tensions in our response to the packaged provisioning of other sensations, and this broader perspective invites us to go beyond our current focus on food, as important as that may be.

As biological creatures we are naturally attracted to certain sights and sounds, even smells and motion, insofar as we have evolved in environments where such sensitivities helped our ancestors prevail over myriad threats to human existence. The body’s perceptual organs are, in a sense, some of our oldest tools, and much of the pleasure we take in bright colors, combinations of particular shapes, and certain kinds of movement must be rooted in prehistoric needs to identify food, threats, or mates from a distance. Today we embrace the recreational counterparts, filling our domestic spaces with visual ornaments, fixed or in motion, reminding ourselves of landscapes, colors, or shapes that provoke recall or simulate absent or even impossible worlds.

What has changed, in other words, is our access to once-rare sensations, including sounds but especially imagery. The decorated caves of southern France, once rare and ritualized space, are now tourist attractions, accessible to all through electronic media. Changes in visual technology have made possible a virtual orgy of visual culture; a 2012 count estimated over 348,000,000,000 images on the Internet, with a growth rate of about 10,000 per second. The mix and matrix of information transfer has changed accordingly: orality (and aurality) has been demoted to a certain extent, first with the rise of typography (printing) and then the published picture, and now the ubiquitous electronic image on screens of different sorts. “Seeing is believing” is an expression dating only from about 1800, signaling the surging primacy of the visual. Civilization itself celebrates the light, the visual sense, as the darkness of the night and the narrow street gradually give way to illuminated interiors, light after dark, and ever broader visual surveillance.

Humans also have preferences for certain smells, of course, even if we are (far) less discriminating than most other mammals. Technologies of odor have never been developed as intensively as those of other senses, though we should not forget that for tens of thousands of years hunters have employed dogs—one of the oldest human “tools”—to do their smelling. Smell has also sometimes marked differences between tribes and classes, rationalizing the isolation of slaves or some other subject group. The wealthy are known to have defined themselves by their scents (the ancient Greeks used mint and thyme oils for this purpose), and fragrances have been used to ward off contagions. Some philosophers believed that the scent of incense could reach and please the gods; and of course the devil smelled foul—as did sin.

Still, the olfactory sense lost much of its acuity in upright primates, and it is the rare philosopher who would base an epistemology on odor. Philosophers have always privileged sight over all other senses—which makes sense given how much of our brain is devoted to processing visual images (canine epistemology and agnotology would surely be quite different). Optico-centricity was further accentuated with the rise of novel ways of extending vision in the seventeenth century (microscopes, telescopes) and still more with the rise of photography and moving pictures. Industrial societies have continued to devalue scent, with some even trying to make the world smell-free. Pasteur’s discovery of germs meant that foul air (think miasma) lost its role in carrying disease, but efforts to remove the germs that caused such odors (especially the sewage systems installed in cities in the nineteenth century) ended up mollifying much of the stink of large urban centers. Bodily perfuming has probably been around for as long as humans have been human, but much of recent history has involved a process of deodorizing, further reducing the value of the sensitive nose.

Modern people may well gorge on sight, but we certainly remain sound-sensitive and long for music, “the perfume of hearing” in the apt metaphor of Diane Ackerman. Music has always aroused a certain spiritual consciousness and may even have facilitated social bonding among early humans. Stringed and drum instruments date back only to about 5,500 years ago (in Mesopotamia), but unambiguous flutes date back to at least 40,000 years ago; the oldest known so far is made from vulture and swan bones found in southern Germany. Singing, though, must be far older than whatever physical evidence we have for prehistoric music.

There is arguably a certain industrial utility to music, insofar as “moving and singing together made collective tasks far more efficient” (so claims historian William McNeill). As a mnemonic aid, a song “hooks onto your subconscious and won’t let go.” Music carries emotion and preserves and transports feelings when passed from one person or generation to another—think of the “Star Spangled Banner” or “La Marseillaise.” And music also marks social differences in stratified societies. In Europe by the eighteenth century, for example, people of rank had abandoned participation in the sounds and music of traditional communal festivals and spectacles. To distinguish themselves from the masses, the rich and powerful came to favor the orderly stylized sounds of chamber music—and even demanded that audiences keep silent during performances. One of the signal trends of this particular modernity is the withdrawal of elites from public festivals, creating space instead for their own exclusive music and dance to eliminate the unruly/unmanaged sounds of the street and work. Music helps forge social bonds, but it can also work to separate and to isolate, facilitating escape from community (think earbuds).

We humans also of course crave motion and bodily contact, flexing our muscles in the manner of our ancestors exhilarating in the chase. And even if we no longer chase mammoth herds with spears, we recreate elements of this excitement in our many sports, testing strength against strength or speed against speed, forcing projectiles of one sort or another into some kind of target. Dance is an equally ancient expression of this thrill of movement, with records of ritual motion appearing already on cave and rock walls of early humans. The emotion-charged dance may be diminished in elite civilized life, but it clearly reappears in the physicality of amusement park throngs at the end of the nineteenth century, and more recently in the rhythmic motions of crowds at sporting events and rock concert moshing where strangers slam and grind into each other.

Sensual pleasure is thus central to the “thick tapestry of rewards” of human evolutionary adaptation, rewards wired into the complex circuitry of the brain’s pleasure centers. Pursuit of pleasure (and avoidance of pain) was certainly not an evil in our distant past; indeed, it must have had obvious advantages in promoting evolutionary fitness. Along with other adaptive emotions (fear, surprise, and disgust, for example), pleasure and its pursuit must also have helped create capacities to bond socially—and perhaps even to use and to understand language. The joy that motivates babies to delight in rhythmic and consonant sounds, bright colors, friendly faces, and bouncing motion helps build brain connections essential for motor and cognitive maturity.

Of course the biological propensity to gorge cannot be new; that much we know from the relative constancy of the human genetic constitution over many millennia. We also know that efforts to augment or intensify sensual pleasure long predate industrial civilization. This should come as no surprise, given that, as already noted, our longings for rare delights of taste, sight, smell, sound, and motion are rooted in our prehistoric past. Humans—like wolves—have been bred to binge. But in the past, at least, nature’s parsimony meant that gorging was generally rare and its impact on our bodies, psyches, and sociability limited.

This leads us again to a critical point: pleasure is born in its paucity and scarcity sustains it. And scarcity has been a fact of life for most of human history; in fact, it is very often a precondition for pleasure. Too much of any good can lead to boredom—that is as true for music or arcade games as for ice cream or opera. Most pleasures seem to require a context of relative scarcity. Amongst our prehistoric ancestors this was naturally enforced through the rarity of honey and the all-tooinfrequent opportunity for the chase. Humans eventually developed the ability, however, to create and store surpluses of pleasure-giving goods, first by cooking and preserving foods and drinks and eventually by transforming even fleeting sensory experiences into reproducible and transmissible packets of pleasure. Think about candy bars, soda pop, and cigarettes, but also photography, phonography, and motion pictures—all of which emerged during the packaged pleasure revolution.

Of course, in certain respects the defeat of scarcity has a much older history, having to do with techniques of containerization. Prior to the Neolithic, circa ten thousand years ago, humans had little in the way of either technical means or social organization to store any kind of sensual surplus (though meats may have been stashed the way some nonhuman predators do). Farming and its associated technics changed this. After hundreds of thousands of years of scavenging and predation, people in this new era began to grow their own food—and then to save and preserve it in containers, especially in pots made from clay but also in bags made from skins or fibers from plants. Agriculture seems to have led to the world’s first conspicuous inequalities in wealth, but also the first routine encounters with obesity and other sins of the flesh (drunkenness, for example). Of course the rich—the rulers and priests of ancient city-states and empires or the lords and abbots of religious centers in the Middle Ages—were able to satisfy sensual longings more often, and in some cases continually.

While Christianity was in part a reaction to this sensual indulgence, being originally a religion of the excluded slave and the appalled rich, medieval aristocrats returned to the ancient love of sweet and sour dishes, favoring roasted game (a throwback to the preagricultural era) and the absurd notion that torturing animals before killing them made for the tastiest meats. Medieval European nobility mixed sex, smell, and taste in their large midday meals and frequent evening banquets. Christian church fathers banned perfumes and roses as Roman decadence, but treatments of this sort—along with passions for pungent flavors and scents—were revived with the Crusades and intimate contact with the Orient.

Until recently, pursuit of pleasure on such an opulent scale was confined to those tiny minorities with regular access to the resources to contain and intensify nature. Since antiquity, in fact, the powerful have often been snobbish killjoys, trying to restrict what the poor were allowed to eat, wear, and enjoy. Sometimes this made economic (if invidious) sense—as when England’s Edward III rationed the diet of servants during shortages that followed the Black Death. In the sixteenth century, French law prohibited the eating of fish and meat at the same meal in hopes of preserving scarce supplies. And given the low output of agriculture, there was a certain logic underlying the rationing of access to “luxuries.” But the powerful sometimes seem to have relished denying pleasure to others. How else do we explain sumptuary laws that prohibited the commoner from wearing colorful and costly clothing reserved for aristocrats?

Access to pleasure has long been an expression of privilege and power, but much can be made with little, and rarely has pleasurable display been totally suppressed in any culture. Think of the ceremonies surrounding seasonal festivals, especially the gathering of harvest surplus, when humans drenched themselves in the senses that seemed almost to ache for expression. Think of the Bacchanalia of the Greeks, the Saturnalia of the Romans, the Mardi Gras of medieval Europeans, or the orgies of feasting, dancing, music, and colorful costumes of any society whose everyday world of scarcity is forgotten in bingeing after harvest. Agriculture produced cycles of carnival and Lent, “a self-adjusting gastric equilibrium,” in the words of one historian.

Of course there are many examples of ancient philosophers and sages seeking to limit the hedonism of the privileged (and the festival culture of the poor). Certainly there are ancients who embraced the virtues of moderation, as in Aristotle’s “golden mean” or Confucian ideals of restrained desire. Hebrew prophets, Puritans, Jesuits, and countless Asian ascetics likewise attempted to rein in the fêtes of the senses. Medieval authorities in Europe forbade the eating of meat on Wednesdays, Fridays, and numerous fast days that added up to more than 150 days a year. The classical ideal of moderation was revived, and the moral superiority of grain-based foods was defended. Gluttony was condemned along with lust. Pleasure was to be regulated even in the afterlife, insofar as the Christian heaven was not for pleasure but for self-improvement. These and other ascetic moralities arguably helped people cope with uncertain supplies, putting a brake also on the rapacious greed of the rich and powerful. Curbing of excess extended to all manner of “pleasures of the flesh,” including those that, like sex, were not necessarily even scarce.

Dance came under suspicion in this regard, especially in its ecstatic form. European explorers frowned on the gesticulations of “possessed natives” whom they encountered in Africa and the Americas in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. At the same time, European elites smothered social dancing in the towns and villages of their own societies. The reasons were many. Clergy demanded that their holy days and rituals be protected from defilement by the boisterous and even sacrilegious customs of the frolicking crowd; the rich also chose to withdraw from—and then suppressed—the emotional intensity of common people’s celebrations, retiring instead to the confines of their private gatherings and sedate dances. The military also needed a new type of soldier and new ways of preparing men for war: the demand was no longer to fire up the emotions of soldiers to prepare them for handto-hand combat; the new need was to drill and discipline troops to march unflinching into musket and cannon fire, with individual fighters acting as precision components in a machine. The regular rhythms of the military march served this purpose better than the ecstatic dance.

Even when people found ways of intensifying sensation (as in the distillation of alcoholic spirits), state and church authorities were often able to enforce limits, sometimes by harsh means. In London in the 1720s, authorities repressed the widespread and addictive use of gin (a juniper-flavored liquor). At the beginnings of the Industrial Revolution, just as unleashing desire was becoming respectable, philosophers such as Adam Smith and David Hume still mused about the need for personal restraint and moral sympathies.

By this time, and increasingly over the course of the nineteenth century, especially between about 1880 and 1910, these traditional calls for moderation and self-control were starting to face a new kind of challenge, thanks to new techniques of containerization and intensification that would culminate in the packaged pleasure revolution. New kinds of machines brought new sensations to ordinary people, producing goods that for the first time could be made quite cheap and easily storable and portable. Canned food defeated the seasons, extending the availability of fruits and vegetables to the entirety of the year. Candy bars purchased at any newsstand or convenience store replaced the rare encounter with the honeycomb or wild strawberry. And while our more immediate predecessors may have enjoyed a pipe of tobacco or a draft of warm beer, the deadly convenience of the cigarette and the refreshing coolness of the chilled beverage came within the grasp of the masses only toward the end of the nineteenth century. And this revolution in the range and intensity of sensation radically upset the traditional relationship between desire and scarcity.

A similar process occurred with other sensory delights. While earlynineteenth-century Americans and Europeans thrilled at the sight of painted dioramas and magic lantern shows, nothing compared to the spectacle of fast-paced police chases in the one-reel movies viewable after 1900. Opera was a privileged treat of the few in lavish public places, but imagine the revolution wrought by the 1904 hard wax cylinder phonograph, when Caruso could be called upon to sing in the family parlor whenever (and however often) one wanted. Daredevils in Vanuatu dove from high places holding vines long before bungee jumping became a fad; even so, there was nothing like the mass-market calibrated delivery of physical thrills before the roller coaster, popularized in the 1890s. We find something similar even with binge partying: while peoples had long celebrated surpluses in festivals, they typically did so only on those rare days designated by the authorities. By the end of the nineteenth century, however, festive pleasures of a more programmed sort had become widely available on demand in the modern commercial amusement park.

Especially important is how the packaged pleasure intensified (certain aspects of ) human sensory experience. An extreme example is when opium, formerly chewed, smoked, or drunk as tea, was transformed through distillation into morphine and eventually heroin—and then injected directly into the bloodstream with the newly invented syringe in the 1850s. The creation of a wide variety of “tubes” like the syringe for delivering chemically purified, intense sensation was characteristic of much of this new technology—which we shall describe in terms of “tubularization.” The cigarette is another fateful example: tobacco smoking was made cheap, convenient, and “mild” (i.e., deadly) with the advent of James Bonsack’s automated cigarette rolling machine (in the 1880s) and new methods of curing tobacco. Bonsack’s machine lowered the cost of manufacturing by an order of magnitude, and new methods of chemical processing (such as flue curing) allowed a milder, less alkaline smoke to be drawn deep into the lungs. A new mass-market consumer “good” was born, accompanied by mass addiction and mass death from maladies of the heart and lungs.

The “tubing” of tobacco into cigarettes was closely related to techniques used in packing and packaging many other commercial products. Think of mechanized canning—culminating in the double-seamed cylinder of the “sanitary” can-making machinery of 1904—and mechanized bottle and cap making from the late 1890s. New forms of sugar consumption appeared with the invention of soda fountain drinks. Coca-Cola was first served in drug stores in 1886 and in bottles by the end of the century, and in the 1890s the mixing of sugar with bitter chocolate led to candy bars, such as Hershey’s in 1900. Packaged pleasures of this sort—offered in conveniently portable portions with carefully calibrated constituents—allowed manufacturers to claim to have surpassed the sensuous joys of paradise. Chemists also began to be hired to see what new kinds of foods and drugs could be synthesized to surpass the taste, smell, and look of anything nature had created. A new discipline of “marketing” came of age about this time—the word was coined in 1884—with the task of creating demand for this riot of new products, decked out increasingly in colorful and striking labels with eye- and ear-catching slogans.

New technologies also sped up our consumption of visual, auditory, and motion sensoria. In 1839 the Daguerreotype revolutionized the familiar curiosity of the camera obscura—a dark room featuring a pinhole that would project an image of the outside world onto an interior wall—by chemically capturing that image on a metal plate in a miniaturized “camera” (meaning literally “room”). While these early photographs required long periods of exposure to fix an image, that time dramatically declined over the course of the century, allowing by 1888 the amateur snapshot camera and only three years later the motion picture camera. The effect, as we shall see, was a sea change in how we view and recollect the world. Sound was also captured (and preserved and sold) about this same time. The phonograph, invented in 1877 by Thomas Edison, became a new way of experiencing sound when improved and domesticated. And Emile Berliner’s “record” of 1887 made possible the mass production of sound on stamped-out discs, capturing a concert or a speech in a two- or three-minute record available to anyone, anywhere, with the appropriate gear.

Access and speed took another sensual twist when a Midwesterner by the name of La Marcus Thompson introduced the first mechanized roller coaster, in 1884. Bodily sensations that might have signaled danger or even death on a real train were packed into a two- or three-minute adventure trip on a rail “gravity ride.” Adding another dimension to the thrill was Thompson’s scenic railroad (in 1886) with its artificial tunnels and painted images of exotic natural or fantasy scenes. This was a new form of concentrated pleasure, distilling sights and sounds that formerly would have required days of “regular travel.” Rides, in combination with an array of novel multisensory spectacles, were concentrated into dedicated “amusement parks,” offering a kind of packaged recreational experience, accessible (very often) via the new trolley cars of the 1890s. Some of the earliest and most famous were those built at Coney Island on the southernmost tip of Brooklyn, New York.

Innovations of this sort led us into new worlds of sensory access, speed, and intensity. Distance and season were no longer restraints, as canned and bottled goods moved by rail, ship, and eventually truck across vast stretches of space and climate—with mixed outcomes for human health and well-being.

Some of these new technologies nourished and improved our bodies with cheaper, more hygienic, and varied food and drink; others offered more convenient and effective medicines and toiletries. Still others provided unprecedented opportunities to enjoy the beauty of nature (or at least its image), along with music and new kinds of “visual arts.” Amusement rides gave us (relatively) harm-free ways of experiencing the ecstatic and the exhilaration of danger—plus a kind of simulated or virtual travel; photography froze the evanescent sight, preserving images on a scale never previously possible, and with near-perfect fidelity. Yet packaged pleasures also led to new health and moral threats.

In the most extreme form, concentrating intoxicants led to addictions—physical dependencies that often required ever-increasing dosages to maintain a constant effect, and substantial physical discomfort accompanying withdrawal. Here of course the syringe injection of distilled opiates is the paradigmatic example, and addiction to tobacco and alcoholic drinks must also be included. But the impact of concentrated high-energy foods is not entirely different. Fat- or sugar-rich foods produce not just energy but very often endorphins, morphine-like painkillers that offer comfort and calm. That is one reason they are called “comfort” foods. These rich foods cause neurotransmitters in the brain to go out of balance, resulting in cravings. By contrast, the natural physical pleasures of exercise are much less addicting because we get tired; and some “excess”—here pain is gain—can actually make us healthier.

Not all packaged pleasure dependencies were so obviously chemical. Engineered pleasures often create astonishment and delight when first introduced, for example, but can also raise expectations and dull sensibilities for “unpackaged” stimuli, be they nature’s wonders or unaided convivial and social delights. The pleasures of recorded sound, the captured image, and even the amusement park ride and electronic game often satisfy with a kind of ratcheting effect, rendering the visual, auditory, and motion pleasures in uncommodified nature and society boring. In this sense, the packaging of pleasure can turn the once rare into an everyday, even numbing, occurrence. The world beyond the package becomes less thrilling, less desirable. In the wake of the telephoto lens and artful editing of film—with all the “boring bits” taken out—nature itself can appear dull or impoverished. Why go to the waterfall or forest if you can experience these in compressed form at your local zoo or theme park? Or on IMAX or your widescreen, high-def TV? Packaged pleasures of this sort may not induce physical dependencies, but they can create inflated expectations or even degrade other, less distilled or concentrated, kinds of experiences.

Another point we shall be making is that packaged pleasures have often de-socializedpleasure taking. Many create neurological responses similar to those of religious ecstasies, physical exercise, and social or even sexual intercourse, and can end up substituting for, or displacing, such enjoyments. Weak wine and mild natural hallucinogens have long enhanced spiritual and social experience, but the modern packaged pleasure often has the effect of privatizing satisfaction, isolating it from the crowd. Think of the privatization of public space through portable mp3 players, or the isolating effect of television.

The key point to appreciate is that we today live in a vastly different world from that of peoples living prior to the packaged pleasure revolution, when a broad range of sensual pleasures came to be bottled, canned, condensed, distilled, and otherwise intensified. The impact of this revolution has not been uniform, and we acknowledge and stress these differences, but it does seem to have transformed our sensory universe in ways we are only beginning to understand.

The packaged pleasures we shall be considering in this book include cigarettes, candy and soda pop, phonograph records, photographs, movies, amusements park spectacles, and a few other odds and ends.

But of course not all commodities that are tubed, packed, portable, or preserved can be considered packaged pleasures. For our purposes, we can identify several key and interrelated elements:

  1. The packaged pleasure is an engineered commodity that contains, concentrates, preserves, and very often intensifies some form of sensual satisfaction.
  2. It is generally speaking inexpensive, easy to access (readily at hand), and very often portable and storable, often in a domestic setting.
  3. It is typically wrapped and labeled and thus often marketed by branding. Although often portable, in the case of the amusement park, it can also be enclosed and branded in a contained and fixed space.
  4. The packaged pleasure is often produced by companies with broad regional if not national or even global reach, creating a recognizable bond between the individual consumer and the corporate producer.

Of course we are well aware that many other consumer products exhibit one or more of these attributes—clothes, cars, books, packaged cereals, cocaine, pornography, and department stores just to name a few. Our focus will be on those packaged pleasures that signal key features of the early part of this transformation, and notably those that involve the elements of containment, compression, intensification, mobilization, and commodification. And we recognize that we will not offer an encyclopedic survey of pleasures that have been intensified and packaged—we won’t be treating the history of pornography or perfume, for example, and will consider narcotics and alcoholic beverages only briefly.

We should also be clear that the packaged pleasure revolution is on-going and in many ways has strengthened over time, as pleasure engineers find ever-more sophisticated ways of intensifying desire. And we’ll consider this history at least briefly. Since funneled fun has a tendency to bore us over time, pleasure engineers have repeatedly raised the bar on sensory intensity. Nuts and nougat were added to the simple chocolate bar, and cigarette makers added flavorants and chemicals to enhance or optimize nicotine delivery. The visual panel in motion pictures has been made more alluring with increasingly rapid cuts, and recorded sound has seen a dramatic expansion in both fidelity and acoustical range. Roller coasters went ever higher and faster while also becoming ever safer. Pornography is delivered with ever-greater convenience and is now basically free to anyone with an Internet connection. Even opera fans can now hear (and see) their favorite arias with a simple click on YouTube—at no cost and without leaving home (or sitting through those “boring bits”). Entertainment without the “fiber,” one could say.

Another outcome of the packaged pleasure revolution, then, is the progressive refinement—really reengineering—of sensory experience in the century or so since its beginnings. Optimization of satisfactions has become a big part in this, as one might expect from the fact that packaged pleasures are very often commodities produced by corporations with research and marketing departments. Menthol was added to cigarettes in the 1930s, with the idea of turning tobacco back into a kind of medicine. Ammonia and levulinic acid and candied flavors of various sorts were later added to augment the nicotine “kick,” but also to appeal to younger tastes. Flavor chemists meanwhile learned to manipulate the jolt of “soft drinks” by refining dosings of caffeine and sugar, while candy makers developed nuanced “flavor profiles”— surpassing traditional hard candy, for example, with the sensory complex of a Snickers.

Optimization and calibration we also find in other parts of this revolution. The intense thrill of a loop-de-loop ride, debuted first at Coney Island in the 1890s, gave way to the more varied sensuality of “themed” rides. Roller coasters have been designed to go to the edge of exhilaration, stopping just short of the point of nausea or injury. The same principle works with gambling, where even losers keep playing because of the carefully calibrated conditioning that comes with the periodic (and precisely calculated) win built into the game. Pleasure engineers have learned how to create video games that are easy enough to engage newcomers, but complex enough to sustain the interest of experienced players. Gaming engineers even seek to encourage (or require) physical movement and social interactions—think Wii games—to counter critics cautioning against the bodily and social negatives of overly virtualized lives.

Our focus is on the origins of the technologies involved in such transformations, though we also are aware that such novelties have always encountered critics, those who worry that an oversated consuming public would lose control and abandon work and family responsibilities. But the reality in terms of social impact often has been quite different. Few of these optimized pleasures have ever undermined the willingness of consumers to work and obey—and have done little to undermine nerves and sensibilities (as some have feared). Indeed they have often contributed to a new work ethic driven by new needs and imperatives to earn and toil evermore in order to be able to afford the delights of movies, candy, soda, cigarettes, and the rest of the show. Over time, and often a surprisingly short time, these commodified delights have become a kind of second sensory nature—customary and accepted ways of eating, inhaling, seeing and hearing, and feeling.

Scholars have long debated the impact of “modern consumer culture,” albeit too often in negative terms without considering the historical origins of the phenomena in question. In the 1890s, the French sociologist Émile Durkheim feared that the “masses” would be enervated, even immobilized, by technical modernity’s overwhelming assault on the senses. And Aldous Huxley in his Brave New World (1932) warned of a coming culture of commoditized hedonism oblivious to tyranny. Jeremiahs of this sort have singled out different culprits, with blame most often placed on the “weaknesses” of the masses or the manipulation of merchandisers, with the hope expressed that the virtuous few in their celebration of nature and simplicity would constitute a bulwark against immediate gratification and degrading consumerism. These critics have been opposed by apologists for “democratic access” to the choice and comforts of modern consumer society—who champion the idea that only killjoy elitists could find fault in the delights of pleasure engineering. This perspective dominates a broad swath of social science—especially from neoclassical economists (think of George Stigler and Gary Becker’s famous dictum on the nondisputability of taste).

We argue instead that we need to abandon the overgeneralization common to both jeremiahs and free-market populists. Of course it is true that the very notion of a “packaged pleasure revolution” suggests certain links between the cigarette, bottled soda, phonograph records, cameras, movies, and even amusement parks. But the impact of these various inventions over the decades has been very different, and cannot be subsumed under some procrustean notion of “modern consumer culture.” Rather, as we shall see, their distinct histories suggest very different effects on our bodies and our cultures that would seem to require very different personal and policy responses. Our view is that the sale of cigarettes (as presently designed) should be heavily regulated and ultimately banned, for example, while soda should probably only be shamed and (heavily) taxed. And we make no policy recommendations for film or sound “packages.” But we certainly need to better understand how these technologies have shaped and refined (distorted?) our sensibilities.

We should also keep in mind that there are global consequences to the packaged pleasure revolution—and that most of these lie in the future. This is unfinished business. Overconsumption is part of the problem, as is the undermining of world health (notably from processed sugar and cigarettes). The revolution is ongoing, as the engineered world of compressed sensibility spreads to ever-different parts of the globe, and ever-different parts of human anatomy and sociability. It may be hard to opt out of or to escape from this brave new world, but the conditions under which it arose are certainly worth understanding and confronting.

This book takes on a lot. Our hope is to move us beyond the classic debate between the jeremiahs against consumerism and the defenders of a democratic access to commercial delights. We root mass consumption in a sensory revolution facilitated by techniques that upset the ancient balance between desire and scarcity. We take a fresh look at how technology has transformed our nature.

To read more about Packaged Pleasures, click here.

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21. Call for Submissions: The Lindenwood Review

The Lindenwood Review is currently accepting submissions of fiction, poetry, and personal essay for issue 5 through December 15, 2014. We are also accepting submissions for our free flash fiction contest through November 15.  

While current LU MFA students are not eligible, alumni are welcome to submit. 

Please visit our website for full submission guidelines and to read excerpts from previous issues.

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22. The Epic Reads Timeline of Young Adult Historical Fiction (yay for GOING OVER!)

Can I say how happy this makes me? I know that the graphic reads little small on my blog. But if you go over to the fabulous Epic Reads you'll find rocking good stuff, at the right size, for readers, teachers, and librarians.

I am grateful—to Epic Reads and to Ilene Wong, who Twittered me the news.

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23. Poetry Competition: ARTlines2, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX

Writers are invited to submit original poems inspired by five works of art linked to this website and on view at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (MFAH).

Entry guidelines.


This competition accepts poems in two separate age categories: adult (age 20+) and teens (age 13-19). The deadline for entries is midnight November 30, 2014.

 
Five independent judges – Robert Pinsky, David M. Parsons, Patricia Smith, Mary Szybist, and Roberto Tejada – will each select a winner and 7 seven finalists for one of the artworks, totaling five adult winners and thirty-five adult finalists. Writers In The Schools/WITS will judge our free teen competition and select five teen winners.


Please read the Guidelines and other information on this site before submitting your poems. All teens should read the Teen page for separate guidelines.

On April 23, 2015, in celebration of National Poetry Month, a free public program at the Museum will feature ARTlines2 winners in both age categories, as well as comments about each work of art by an art historian.


Poems by all Winners and Finalist will be published with the accompanying artworks in an ekphrastic poetry anthology for ARTlines2 


EKPHRASTIC POETRY may include literal descriptions of a work of art, the poet´s mood in response to a work of art, metaphorical associations inspired by a work of art, or personal memories about a work of art.
ARTlines2 is a national competition organized by Public Poetry in partnership with the Museum of Fine Arts Houston (MFAH).


Eligibility: Adults (20+) and teens (13-19).
Deadline: November 30, 2014

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24. Frankenstein

#Frankenstein for day 22 of #inktober and #sketch_dailies

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25. Longreads’ Best of WordPress, Vol. 7

Here it is! A new collection of our favorite stories from across all of WordPress.

As always, you can find our past collections here. You can follow Longreads on WordPress.com for more daily reading recommendations, or subscribe to our free weekly email.

Publishers, writers, you can share links to your favorite essays and interviews (over 1,500 words) on Twitter (#longreads) and on WordPress.com by tagging your posts longreads.


1. What Happens When a Veteran High School Teacher Becomes a Student for the Day

Grant Wiggins

“I waited fourteen years to do something that I should have done my first year of teaching: shadow a student for a day.” A high school teacher learns some sobering lessons about how kids experience a typical day — and the amount of sitting required.

2. No Apology

Mehreen Kasana

The truth about being Muslim in America:

In the eyes of those perpetually seeking an apology from Muslims, I am a Bad Muslim. I don’t put hashtag-suffixed apologies online for what someone else of my faith does. When 9/11 happened, I was as shocked and terrified as anyone else was. We scary-looking Muslims experience human emotions, too. … We Muslims react to unexpected loss of life like any non-Muslim would. We cry, we mourn.

3. The Rise and Fall of Public Housing in NYC

Richard Price, Guernica

A “subjective overview” of the history of public housing in New York City from the novelist Richard Price, framed through the lens of his own upbringing in the North Bronx’s Parkside Houses.

4. Ways Men In Tech Are Unintentionally Sexist

Kat Hagan, This Is Not a Pattern

How our behavior and language can have a harmful impact — and how we can fix it. “Small, simple changes will build the foundation for a better tech culture.”

5. Gone Girls: Human Trafficking on the Home Front

Mike Kessler, Los Angeles Magazine

Kessler talks to survivors of child prostitution, as well as law enforcement officers, judges, politicians, and advocates working to prevent the sex trafficking of minors.

6. The Evans Family Is Living in This World

Linda Vaccariello, Cincinnati Magazine

A community comes together to help a family after a tragedy:

“The reality hit me like nothing I’d ever experienced,” McDonald says. “She had no one. I couldn’t imagine what that was like.” McDonald went to Ao, threw her arm around the sobbing woman’s shoulders, and said, “We’ll help you.”

7. The Plunge

Carl Schreck, Grantland

The story of Shavarsh Karapetyan, a Soviet swimming champion who dove into Armenia’s Lake Yerevan and saved dozens of lives from a sinking trolleybus.

8. How Pixar’s Gurus Brought the Magic Back to Disney Animation

Caitlin Roper, Wired

A profile of John Lasseter and Ed Catmull, whose intense focus on storytelling helped revive Disney’s animation studio with hits like Frozen and Wreck-It Ralph.

9. ‘I Am Darren Wilson’: St. Louis and the Geography of Fear

Sarah Kendzior & Umar Lee, Quartz

St. Louis is a city long on the run from itself. White flight has spread from suburbia to exurbia, while decades of black demands — for better jobs, better schools, better treatment—go unheeded. This is a region deprived of resources, forcing residents to scrounge for more fertile terrain.

10. Stephen Powers Puts the Writing on the Wall

Neima Jahromi, Bklynr

From the magazine Bklynr, a profile of the street artist behind some of Brooklyn’s most recognizable murals.

Photo: dystopos, Flickr


Filed under: Community, Reading, WordPress, WordPress.com

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