Sunday, September 21, 2008

Sometimes, when it’s very late, Jack and I go for drives. We cruise up and down the main streets of our little town and we ride out into the country, past cottages and farms. Hardly a soul is awake, but where lights are on, they are the pallid, flickering type cast off by televisions. Years ago, when sets were smaller, the lights were faint and I could only guess what people were watching. But televisions have grown and now I can watch from the road, catching a brief glimpse as I pass only to get the next bit from the next window in the next house. If I wanted to, I could pull up to the curb, jawing popcorn, and watch the show on the wall-sized screen like I was at an old-time, drive-in theatre - the “viewers at home,” with their eyes transfixed to the shimmering electronic fire, would never know I was there.

But, I can never look for long, for all the programs on all 500 channels sing out the same song and I don‘t want to be consumed by the burning box‘s call. The message is, “your not happy because you’re not as thin, wealthy or endowed like us here in the box.” And the commercials are merely concentrated re-enforcing bits where the tele-vise pumps out its sludge in 60-second intervals instead of 30-minute blocks “Buy this pill and you’ll get thinner, have a boner and win millions, it works because I used it and now I’m on TV with my new trophy wife and her puppy. By the way, side effects can include anal leakage, delayed cognition and sudden death.” That is the one-two punch of the magic, burning box, the glimmering tele-eye that the masses warship, all of them facing it like Mecca, receiving the nightly communion of the church of capitalism.

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