Enter the Twilight Zone
The Art of Darkness Podcast Engages with High American Strangeness
This weekend we recorded our Rod Serling episode of Art of Darkness. This has me reflecting on the high strangeness of America’s mid-century psyche, and how we remained trapped in the gooey Amber of the mid-to-late sixties. Few cultural products define that as clearly as the Twilight Zone, which in hindsight exhibits clearly the (reasonable) American predisposition toward paranoia.
Somebody out there might be getting a better deal. The Soviets are next door, maybe even in the house. I’ve lately realized the “Boomer issue” is that not a small fraction of that group are Soviets through a glass darkly. We are their offshoots, and we are creatures of the institution. The Big Institution is ever-watchful, the eye on the pyramid. So paranoia is not only understandable, but desirable. What American over 30 with their wits about them isn’t always looking over their shoulder, physically and otherwise? You’d be a fool not to.
In any case, Brad Kelly did a fine job with this episode, and we’re hitting a stride with the format of dark biography. Artists and creatives and thinkers are human, which is to say flawed, and it’s often telling where those shortcomings manifest in the work produced. Serling was a Pacific Theater veteran of WWII who saw real world horror, Jewish and hypersensitive to bigotry, a voracious chain smoker and ultimately by his own measure a hack - an assessment which is probably too harsh but also understandable in the context of his psychology, a kind of Napoleon character beloved in his time but unable to break through into “serious” art. One wonders what he would make of the late golden age of television and his impact on the broader culture.
Episode is here: https://artofdarkpod.com/rod-serlings-spunk. Enjoy.