Tuesday, October 13, 2009

A society of Jimmy Jets

Like Alex DeLarge from A Clockwork Orange, eyes pried open, the images are unavoidable. Murder, sex, economic downturns, famine, lying politicians, spoiled-brat professional athletes, kids floating away in spacecraft-shaped balloons – human misery. It's all there, no matter where you go. The only relief from the retinal assault is the momentary splash of the drops on the eyes.

Oh, it's not quite that bad. One can hide in closets or maybe in the shower, I suppose. But dare venture out in public and you will be bombarded with flashing, flickering, blinking images? Why, because there are TVs everywhere

  • Gas pumps
  • Elevators
  • Bathrooms
  • Hallways at fine inns and hotels
  • Restaurants
  • Churches
  • Mini-vans and SUVs
  • Even in attorneys' offices (not the lobbies, the offices themselves.)

  • If someone came here from the past he'd find a very Orwellian-looking world, with “tele-screens” in places once thought unimaginable to most rational people. It's not so much that Big Brother's watching us, but we're certainly watching him. We can't even eat a bite of food or even use the bathroom free from “news” and information, the overwhelming majority of it having nothing whatsoever to do with our daily lives. There's just too much TV.

    Americans try to slow their racing minds by Yoga, meditation and some very enlightened-sounding practices. They might not have racing minds if they weren't cluttering what is left of their non-working time with TV. Dr. Timothy Leary once famously said, “Tune in, turn on and drop out.” Apparently his listeners thought he was talking about television. It's too bad he didn't say, “Tune out, turn off and drop it out the window.”

    All of this reminds me of the almost prophetic brilliant little poem by Shel Silverstein from his collection, Where the Sidewalk Ends, "Jimmy Jet and His TV Set"

    I'll tell you the story of Jimmy Jet --
    And you know what I tell you is true.
    He loved to watch his TV set
    Almost as much as you.

    He watched all day, he watched all night
    Till he grew pale and lean,
    From "The Early Show" to "The Late Late Show"
    And all the shows between.

    He watched till his eyes were frozen wide,
    And his bottom grew into his chair.
    And his chin turned into a tuning dial,
    And antennae grew out of his hair.

    And his brains turned into TV tubes,
    And his face to a TV screen.
    And two knobs saying "VERT." and "HORIZ."
    Grew where his ears had been.

    And he grew a plug that looked like a tail
    So we plugged in little Jim.
    And now instead of him watching TV
    We all sit around and watch him.

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