Television!

My mind on the internet is not so much a pan of frying eggs as a plate of migas: well scrambled, with jalapeños. I could barely concentrate on Adam Gopnik’s roundup of what-the-web-does-to-our-brain-books, though this seemed astute:

It is the wraparound presence, not the specific evils, of the machine that oppresses us. Simply reducing the machine’s presence wil go a long way toward alleviating the disorder. . . . Now television is the harmless little fireplace over in the corner, where the family gathers to watch “Entourage.” TV isn’t just docile; it’s positively benevolent. This makes you think that what made television so evil back when it was evil was not its essence but its omnipresence.

Pace Gopnik, I am still afraid of television. I find comfort in manifestos like “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.” Or “Television, the Drug of the Nation.” Or “Hot and Juicy” by a modern disciple, Zayde Buti.

From Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television:

Television is a form of sense deprivation, causing disorientation and confusion. It leaves viewers less able to tell the real from the not-real, the internal from the external, the personally experienced from the externally implanted. It disorients a sense of time, place, history and nature.

Television suppresses and replaces creative human imagery, encourages mass passivity, and trains people to accept authority. It is an instrument of transmutation, turning people into their TV images. . . .

Television keeps awareness contained within its own rigid channels, a tiny fraction of the natural information field. Because of television we believe we know more, but we know less.

In 1991, I wrote a poem called “Ode to Television.”

The American public is behaving itself,
but television isn’t;

television continues to show movies about teenagers who have cancer and are pregnant and refuse to have an abortion and go off chemotherapy to have the baby and the teenagers die and the baby dies; . . .

the American public knows television uses dirty words
and stays out later than it should, and
somebody ought to tell television the American public
knows this.