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The rose by Charles L. Copyright Paperback…
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136488,280 (3.21)7
Title:The rose
Authors:Charles L. Copyright Paperback Collection Library of Congress Harness
Info:Berkley Medallion Book (1953), Unknown Binding
Collections:Your library
Tags:science fiction

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The Rose (Collection) by Charles L. Harness (1953)



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In "The Rose," there seems to be a clear-cut distinction between art and science. I strongly disagree. Knowing Oscar Wilde's "The Rose and the Nightingale" is helpful.

A sample: Martha Jacques [says,] "Man's goal in life is to understand his environment, to analyze it to the last iota---to know what he controls." ... "But Martha," protested Jacques. "... The highest aim of man is not to analyze, but the synthesize---to create."

What stayed in my mind about the story was how someone was able to hide against a white background by combining purple and green and how a part of Tchaikovsky's Sixth, because it is in 5:4 time, stops someone from moving as he would like. In other words, the story is clever, but not convincing. ( )
1 vote raizel | Jul 28, 2013 |
My reactions to reading this collection in 1991. Some spoilers follow.

The short novel The Rose is sometimes regarded as Harness’ best. It certainly is his most literary in terms of having a structure (like his The Venetian Court) reminiscent of a symphony with its introduction of a theme, its permutations, and the resolution. This has certain similarities to Harness’ other works. Here there are a pair of lovers (sort of, the state of their relationship -- love or not, is one of the plot features) fighting against a tyrannical state, here the minions of National Security working for the brilliant, jealous, and nearly insane (as the result of her constant battle with the very annoying, unfaithful, brilliant, belittling of science, husband Ruy Jacques) Martha Jacques, who was my favorite character. The central debate here, the theme that drives the symphony, is the conflict between art and science.

Ruy Jacques obnoxiously and intriguingly berates his wife with his accusation that science is sterile, that anything of worth has been discovered first by artists and that science can only serve to quantify the artist’s work. He gives examples ranging from relativity to the psychology of color perception. Harness sympathy seems to be with him. The central argument never really addresses the utility of art or science to civilization and society. It only addresses concerns of first discovery of concepts. Harness makes an interesting case for art here. Science, on the other hand, is the obsession of Martha Jacques. She is protected by National Security whose agents punish Ruy’s lovers because of Martha’s jealousy and resentment towards him, her hope to finally shut up his snide comments about science by discovering the ultimate scientific truth, and the Sciomnia equations which will link biological theory with Einstein’s unified field theory.). When she discovers Sciomnia, she gloats: “In the final analysis Science means force -- the ability to control the minds and bodies of men.” For her, Science is a tool of tyranny. While Harness explicitly ignores the arguments of science and arts utility, Ruy Jacques, like Martha Jacques, uses his knowledge. He hides Anna van Tuyl using an intuitive knowledge of color perception to hide her in a bed of white roses and, at another point, (in van Vogtian manner) music is used to paralyze a National Security agent from killing Ruy’s lover Anna. Therefore art also is shown to have utility, here to defend. Again, I think, Harness shows his sympathy. A preoccupattion (on the part of author and Anna Turyl and Ruy Jacques) with human transcendence is seen here. Both Ruy and Tuyl are exhibiting deformity (development of telepathy via brain mutation and spinal deformity) which marks their transcendence. Transcendence is a common Harness theme as is a narrative with an element of vague doom and fate hanging over it. Here that element is supplied by the main image that drives this book. Anna Tuyl keeps having a dream where a nightingale impales herself on a white rose to make a student a red rose. This dream gives the book its central, strange, sometimes vague imagery. Anna becomes identified with the nightingale, Ruy the student. Ruy, meanwhile, (and this is never really adequately explained), is consumed by the vision of a rose he needs to complete a painting. He has lost, due to his upcoming transformation, the ability to read and write. (Harness throws in some clever pseudo-science comparing a baby’s loss of the ability to hang from a perch to Jacques loss of these skills en route to superhumanity.). His vision is satisfied in the blood gorged wings of the dying Anna. It is at this climax that Ruy seems to find true love for the first time, and, it seems to me, it is suggested love unifies and subordinates both art and science. An interesting book, certainly Harness’ most literary, and interesting for Harness’ view of art, but too obscure in parts and, for me, not as good as The Paradox Men. I liked Martha the best and felt her rage at the obnoxious Ruy quite justified.

“The Chessplayers” -- This light-hearted story showed chessplayers more concerned with their competitors style and skill than the fact he’s an intelligent rat. Enjoyable but nothing special.

“The New Reality” -- A clever story justifying the notion that reality is what you make of it. It showed me two things I hadn’t noticed about Harness. First is his skill at propping up a fictional conceit with a wealth of seemingly genuine detail. This sort of elaboration gives conspiracy theories their charm, and this story is sort of a metaphysical conspiracy. Harness’ story assumes facts lead to theories, theories lead to searching for supporting facts, said search produces inconsistencies and contradictions lead to new theories. Each new theory changes reality from the basic reality, Kant’s noumenon. This explains why the Babylonians didn’t get a very good approximation of pi or why Ptolemy didn’t get the sun’s distance from Earth right even though he should have been able to with his interest. Their reality was what they measured. Ours is what we measure. Harness throws in some of Einstein’s theories and quantam physics. Harness nimbly skips over, eludes, and skirts around exactly what the noumenon really is. It is this skill which gave me the second insight into Harness’ work: his skill at drawing evidence from broad areas of science while sometimes obscuring their implications and appropriateness at times stems from his years as a patent lawyer. As a lawyer, he would have to logically state his case, elaborate the evidence, and obsfucate when necessary. (I believe it’s in his Lunar Justice that the three sins of a patent application are listed as: clarity and conciseness and completeness.) It’s a useful sf writers skill. Some usual Harness elements are here: there are the lovers (though here, rather than fighting against a tyrannical state, you could argue they’re part of it -- I’d argue their technology suppression is shown to be necessary but ultimately futile) and the plot whose suspense depends on timing. This is a clever version of the Adam and Eve story (our lovers) being born into a “New Reality” complete with one serpent (formerly a mad scientist who reduces, in the story, reality to its basic element) and the whole thing promises to start over. Harness throws in the suggestion that E (revealed as Eve at the end) and Dr. Luce (the allegorical significance of these names -- we also have an Adam Prentiss Rogers -- only, amazingly, is clear at the end -- a tribute to Harness’ skill) have carried out their struggle over knowledge for years via their symbolic ancestors. ( )
1 vote RandyStafford | Nov 16, 2012 |
The Rose is written in a self-consciously grandiose and dream-like prose that reminded me of A Billion Days of Earth by Doris Piserchia. It reads like a stage play in many instances and has a surreal quality that reminded me of James Tiptree Jr's short stories. The style stifled the story for me and interest in the ideas of the plot were more often than not overwhelmed by my dislike of the text, unfortunately. The main idea, as I understood it, is that science and art are competitors. I don't particularly agree with this, and the main characters - although as far as I know very rare in SF for being physically disabled - were emotionally overwrought and irritating. Overall though, there is an oddness which is somehow appealing here and one or two of the scenes do border on impressive, including the ending. ( )
1 vote ropie | Sep 24, 2011 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Charles L. Harnessprimary authorall editionscalculated
Goodfellow, PeterCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Moorcock, MichaelIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Her ballet slippers made a soft slapping sound, moody, mournful, as Anna van Tuyl stepped into the annex of her psychiatrical consulting room and walked toward the tall mirror. ["The Rose," p. 5]
Now please understand this. I'm not saying that all chessplayers are lunatics. ["The Chessplayers," p. 89]
Prentiss crawled into the car, drew the extension connector of his concealed throat mike from its clip in his right sleeve, and plugged it into the ignition key socket. ["The New Reality," p. 102]
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The majority of editions in this work are for a collection including "the New Reality", "The Chessplayers" and "The Rose". If your book contains only "The Rose" please move it to the work "The Rose (Short story)
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