The War on Television
“Can war exist without television?”
“Ever since television came in, there’s been nothing but television. All other reality was banished. People just don’t realize it yet.”
“I’m afraid television is a fragile medium. Any number of events could cause it to go offline. And then where will we be? We’ll sink into a great Void.”
“Suppose, as you say, the war is real. But suppose it isn’t on television. Nothing about it, the debate, the lead-up, the attack…none of it is on television. Therefore, none of us know anything about it. See? So I ask you, would they stage the war at all? What would be the point if it wasn’t on television? The so-called message we’re sending, the punishment for Assad using chemical weapons, the muscle-flexing. It wouldn’t work. It wouldn’t play.”
“In other words,” he said, “we all have a disease called television. We don’t know how sick we are.”
“Exactly,” I said.
I stumbled across this blog by recommendation and would like to draw comparisons to my own reality, in line with my recent blog “A Sense of Universal Responsibility“.
Okay, I’m not usually talking about war. And I’m not usually watching the news, or much telly in general. Because I don’t like seeing or hearing anything about war, or any of the rest of the drama going on in the world. I like to sit in my own little bubble, pretending that everything is fine. I well know that it isn’t fine, that the world is in a mess and that I better had do something about it.
Surely, wouldn’t it be that first crucial step to not watch so much TV? Maybe I do the world a favour already by acknowledging it in all its real existential glory, without a screen inbetween, without the acted reality displayed 24/7. By actually putting out that thought of a better world, instead of focusing on the continuous negative reinforcement. This includes newspapers and magazines too.
The sad thing is that I have well felt this “void” described above myself on numerous occasions. It feels like a good friend has parted, like the end of a really good holiday, going back to a mundane 9 to 5 job, a dull Monday morning at school, the end of an era…
And none of the above are the actual reason for that void but the mere end of a box set of some series that had become part of my life for a short period. And when it ended I am stuck with the memories of something that wasn’t real to start with, humming the theme melody, missing its company on cosy evening nights, wishing I knew what would happen next if it was to carry on.
“What’s so different to a book?” Is it the actual imposed images, picked from someone else’s’ fantasy, compared to your own? To be rained on with images instead of setting your own scene?
In the end I ordered another box set, just to fill the void. Oh dear.
The same I notice in others, especially on my hospital ward, where not every bed has a television set. A lot of patients throw a right hissy fit at the fact that there is no television, panicking right from the start that they won’t be able to “survive”. So it’s not the surgeon that helps the survival process, nor the nursing care, it is in fact the television. Which one is the illusion?
Granted, there might not be much to do in a hospital bed, especially if you feel tired and can’t concentrate on books. I admire those patients who come well prepared with crossword puzzles, card decks, piles of books and the odd knitting sets.
I know it can be difficult to be still. Especially if you are unbeknown to meditation. And I had proposed before whether we couldn’t have some cards or games around to offer to patients that were clearly bored out of their minds. The answer was that it needed to be wipeable but generally was a potential infection risk …. so back to “sterile entertainment” via TV set, patients zoning out in front of the telly like slaves to the system, getting fidgety if they can’t use their TV or mobile phones, like drug addicts in for another fix.
Then I had to go into my bank earlier and was really trying to ignore the impossibly ginormous screens behind the cashiers, the news reporters with their twitching bodies, imposed expression of saddened sympathy, moving in tact with their “sterile” voices, echoing some formal words that mean nothing, together with the flashing news bands rolling along the bottom of the screen as if desperate to try and catch a glimpse of your attention. Of course its all bad news… of course its Syria they talk about…
Then the cashier flags up some offer on my account and arranges to speak to an advisor. After telling her that I really don’t care about mobile phone or computer insurance, that I would actually feel much happier if I didn’t have any of those “gadgets” at all and wouldn’t feel so harassed all the time, to which she seemed to agree saying she feels similar, she then hands me an iPad asking to fill out a customer survey. Did she even listen while she was hammering on the keyboard of her computer with her long red nails?
So then in the evening I watch a DVD, who would have thought, and what is the girl asked in the interview?
“How do you feel about the war?”
Smiling calmly she answers: “I don’t watch television.”
Pure bliss 😉