Thursday, August 24, 2006

Media junkie dall'oltretomba

According to the latest reports, we now have enough nuclear bombs not only to destroy all life on the planet but also to blow the planet itself, empty and cold, out of its orbit altogether and into the immensity of the cosmic void. I find that possibility magnificent, and in fact I'm tempted to shout bravo, because from now on there can be now doubt that science is our enemy. She flatters our desires for omnipotence -- desires that lead inevitably to our destruction. A recent poll announced that out of 700,000 "highly qualified" scientists now working throughout the world, 520,000 of them are busy trying to streamline the means of our self-destruction, while only 180,000 are studying ways of keeping us alive.

The trumpets of the apocalypse have been sounding at our gates for years now, but we still stop up our ears. We do, however, have four new horsemen: overpopulation (the leader, the one waving the black flag), science, technology, and the media. All the other evils of the world are merely consequences of these. I'm not afraid to put the press in the front rank, either. The last screenplay I worked on, for a film I'll never make, deals with a triple threat: science, terrorism, and the free press. The last, which is usually seen as a victory, a blessing, a "right," is perhaps the most pernicious of all, because it feeds on what the other three horsemen leave behind.


Only one regret. I hate to leave while there's so much going on. It's like quitting in the middle of a serial. I doubt there was so much curiosity about the world after death in the past, since in those days the world didn't change quite so rapidly or so much. Frankly, depite my horror of the press, I'd love to rise from the grave every ten years or so and go buy a few newspapers. Ghostly pale, sliding silently along the walls, my papers under my arm, I'd return to the cemetery and read about all the disasters in the world before falling back to sleep, safe and secure in my tomb. Buñuel 1983.


Anonymous phil said...

What do we teach the children? How to we lead by example? What do we tell them about their children?

8/27/2006 7:56 PM  
Anonymous tom said...

teaching - to presume we know the world, ourselves, and those needing to be taught - and yet, in the aliveness of the child, not yet subsisting in some mediated intensity of supervised official cognitive dissonance, there's perhaps something for us to attend to. About their children...? What do you think, Phil?

8/28/2006 8:03 AM  
Blogger Jon Husband said...

I loved this (italics below) by Kurt Vonnegut. I think he's suggesting TV and the Internet aren't necessarily helpful ;-)

We are seeing the failures (or siltification) of ideas and the imagination, because highly-produced images are helping us gradually learn how to forget to imagine and think.

We are not born with imagination. It has to be developed by teachers, by parents. There was a time when imagination was very important because it was the major source of entertainment. In 1892, if you were a seven-year-old, you'd read a story--just a very simple one--about a girl whose dog had died. Doesn't that make you want to cry? Don't you know how the little girl feels? And you'd read another story about a rich man slipping on a banana peel. Doesn't that make you want to laugh? And this imagination circuit is being built in your head. If you go to an art gallery, here's just a square with daubs of paint on it that haven't moved in hundreds of years. No sound comes out of it.

The imagination circuit is taught to respond to the most minimal of cues. A book is an arrangement of twenty-six phonetic symbols, ten numerals, and about eight punctuation marks, and people can cast their eyes over these and envision the eruption of Mount Vesuvius or the Battle of Waterloo. But it's no longer necessary for teachers and parents to build these circuits. Now there are professionally produced shows with great actors, very convincing sets, sound, music. Now there's the information highway. We don't need circuits any more than we need to know how to ride horses.

8/28/2006 1:09 PM  
Anonymous tom said...

Jon, thanks. 15 years or so ago, I became aware that certain of my co-workers, of the Gen X cohort, spent most of their watercooler time at work discussing characters on Friends and other TV series. There were no communicational markers to indicate that they were discussing fictional characters, not actual friends. There were also no markers distinguishing between the actors who played the characters and the characters. The world of Friends was a porous, fungible one. Happy Days!

8/29/2006 10:10 AM  

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