The Receiving Set
In radio and television, for instance, the Other Men were technically far ahead of us, but the use to which they put their astounding inventions was disastrous. In civilized countries everyone but the pariahs carried a pocket receiving set. As the Other Men had no music, this may seem odd; but since they lacked newspapers, radio was the only means by which the man in the street could learn the lottery and sporting results which were his staple mental diet. The place of music, moreover, was taken by taste- and smell-themes, which were translated into patterns of ethereal undulation, transmitted by all the great national stations, and restored to their original form in the pocket receivers and taste-batteries of the population. These instruments afforded intricate stimuli to the taste organs and scent organs of the hand. Such was the power of this kind of entertainment that both men and women were nearly always seen with one hand in a pocket. A special wave length had been allotted to the soothing of infants.
A sexual receiving set had been put upon the market, and programs were broadcast for it in many countries; but not in all. This extraordinary invention was a combination of radio--touch, taste, odor, and sound. It worked not through the sense organs, but direct stimulation of the appropriate brain-centers. The recipient wore a specially constructed skullcap, which transmitted to him from a remote studio the embraces of some delectable and responsive woman, as they were then actually being experienced by a male "love-broadcaster" or as electromagnetically recorded on a steel tape on some earlier occasion. Controversies had arisen about the morality of sexual broadcasting. Some countries permitted programs for males but not for females, wishing to preserve the innocence of the purer sex. Elsewhere the clerics had succeeded in crushing the whole project on the score that radio-sex, even for men alone, would be a diabolical substitute for a certain much desired and jealously guarded religious experience, called the immaculate union, of which I shall tell in the sequel. Well did the priests know that their power depended largely on their ability to induce this luscious ecstasy in their flock by means of ritual and other psychological techniques.
Militarists also were strongly opposed to the new invention; for in the cheap and efficient production of illusory sexual embraces they saw a danger even more serious than contraception. The supply of cannon-fodder would decline.
Since in all the more respectable countries broadcasting had been put under the control of retired soldiers or good churchmen, the new device was at first adopted only in the more commercial and the more disreputable states. From their broadcasting stations the embraces of popular "radio love-stars" and even of impecunious aristocrats were broadcast along with advertisements of patent medicines, taste-proof gloves, lottery results, savors, and degustatants.
The principle of radio-brain-stimulation was soon developed much further. Programs of all the most luscious or piquant experiences were broadcast in all countries, and could be picked up by simple receivers that were within the means of all save the pariahs. Thus even the laborer and the factory hand could have the pleasures of a banquet without expense and subsequent repletion, the delights of proficient dancing without the trouble of learning the art, the thrills of motor-racing without danger. In an ice-bound northern home he could bask on tropical beaches, and in the tropics indulge in winter sports. Governments soon discovered that the new invention gave them a cheap and effective kind of power over their subjects. Slum-conditions could be tolerated if there was an unfailing supply of illusory luxury. Reforms distasteful to the authorities could be shelved if they could be represented as inimical to the national radio-system. Strikes and riots could often be broken by the mere threat to close down the broadcasting studios, or alternatively by flooding the ether at a critical moment with some saccharine novelty.
The fact that the political Left Wing opposed the further development of radio amusements made Governments and the propertied classes the more ready to accept it. The Communists, for the dialectic of history on this curiously earth-like planet had produced a party deserving that name, strongly condemned the scheme. In their view it was pure Capitalist dope, calculated to prevent the otherwise inevitable dictatorship of the proletariat.
Folksonomies: science fiction
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Broadcasting (0.912441): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Means of production (0.847044): dbpedia | freebase
Radio (0.719445): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Olfaction (0.685679): dbpedia | freebase
Invention (0.659374): dbpedia | freebase
Hand (0.624909): dbpedia
Karl Marx (0.624665): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc | yago
Marxism (0.621107): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc | yago
Transmitter (0.619480): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Left-wing politics (0.615349): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Taste (0.606258): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Means of grace (0.606024): dbpedia | freebase
Sense (0.593061): dbpedia | freebase