Friday, August 14, 2015

Mencken & McLuhan

We all know someone who is angry and unhappy about the US presidential selection process and the manner in which it’s unfolding (if no one else, me). That we have a year plus before we get to Hammersmith is of no solace at all. 

In light of the product thus far resulting from the process, I think we should be grateful we don’t have one of the Real Housewives from Wherever They Come From running neck and neck with somebody who won last week’s Survivor Challenge

And I probably shouldn’t have just expressed that fear. Come to think of it, where is that ‘Does a Bear Eat a Pope in the Woods’ guy? He’d make it a real party.

There’s a song offered in certain circumstances at German gasthouses, usually late in the evening when it’s been very thirsty. Or so I’m told, as I have no first-hand knowledge of the matter at all. And the song goes, “Wer soll das bezahlen? Wer hat das bestellt?” Who pays for that? Who ordered that?

The answer there as it is here, always, is we did. There’s no need to send in the clowns, let me adjust your squeaky nose while you check the pressure on my seltzer bottle. Ready, go!  

Without claiming to have found the gunmen on the grassy knoll, I'd suggest we started to wander and waver in terms of our less than faithful relationship to facts and items of importance the night in the latter 90's when we tuned into the national séance that was AC and OJ driving the Bronco into our collective consciousness. 

From then on, and most especially after the murderous catastrophe of 9/11 we were afraid of everything, most especially to be left alone with our thoughts and felt compelled to have the noise, I meant news, always on in the background, 'just in case something happens.' 

Except the care and feeding of these 24/7 news delivery cable beasts would prove to be challenging, a challenge maybe we could (should?) have seen but since the cable news pimps aim to grab folks for no more than about 11 minutes at a time, they contributed to, while benefiting from, the diminution and dilution of our attention spans. What? My point exactly. 

As Orwell's Big Brother discovered, if you tell us often enough we are at war with Oceania we'll agree with you when you tell us we've always been at war with Oceania. Thinking is hard, believing is easy.

Keep showing us Paris Hilton, Kim Kardashian, and Miley Cyrus and since you have them on the 'news' they must be newsworthy, right? That whole walks like a duck and talks like a duck thing. There’s some kind of straight line from Perez Hilton to Edward R. Murrow. And yet there’s a shadow of a doubt when you think about it, so don’t think about it.

Most of us can name all the judges on America's Got Talent and American Idol- and not know ANY names on the Supreme Court. (What about that singing group with Diana Ross? Huh? How about partial credit for that answer?)

Instead of using our inventions as a window to see farther and further into the universe, we've created a mirror where our inner Narcissus can stare unendingly into our own eyes right here in the Republic of Me. And if our eyes don’t see as well as they once did, even as the wool is pulled over them yet again, it might be thanks to the toxic trail emanating from the electric fire in the corner of the room.

-bill kenny

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