Lack of Television Yields a Clear Head

Published by Andrew Hreschak in Random Musings
Published on 11/25/05 @ 12:40:00 pm using 911 words, and has 20908 views

I hadn't turned on my television in almost 2 weeks. I remember seeing several commercials, specifically on the Spike Channel advertising the Spike Channel, which went something like "There's no reason to think. Just sit down in front of this box. It will entertain you. It will make you happy." Being something of a contrarian when it comes to implied suggestions of control, I decided to do exactly the opposite. I turned the box off and didn't go back to it.

I've been listening to a lot of music and doing a lot of reading in recent weeks, sometimes reading several books at a time. I just finished The Shifting Realities of Philip K. Dick: Selected Literary and Philosophical Writings and The Political Writings of St. Augustine. I'm currently reading Simulacra and Simulation by Jean Baudrillard. It's a series of essays on the nature of postmodern culture and society, and what technology means for human awareness and empathy as we enter a world of modern technology. In this 'hyperreal' future, reality can be manufactured to the point where there is no longer an original from which it is derived, but only a copy, a simulacrum which, because "unreal", presents some interesting questions regarding human empathy, conscience, and responsibility. If anyone's interested, the entirety of the idea for the Matrix movie came from that book. In fact, in the first Matrix movie, when Neo is selling pirated software which he has hidden in a carved-out book, if you look closely at the book, it's Simulacra and Simulation, an apparent homage to the writing on which the movie is based.

Here's a quote:

Today abstraction is no longer that of the map, the double, the mirror, or the concept. Simulation is no longer that of a territory, a referential being, or a substance. It is the generation by models of a real without origin or reality: a hyperreal. The territory no longer precedes the map, nor does it survive it. It is nevertheless the map that precedes the territory -- precession of simulacra -- that engenders the territory, and if one must return to the fable, today it is the territory whose shreds slowly rot across the extent of the map. It is the real, and not the map, whose vestiges persist here and there in the deserts that are no longer those of the Empire, but ours. The desert of the real itself."

I'm also currently reading Elmore Leonard's Unknown Man #89, and re-reading Philip K. Dick's A Scanner Darkly as it's been 8 years since I read it, and because the movie is being released soon, though I haven't decided whether or not to go see it. I must say, the rotoscoping animation does look very well done, but I wonder how truly the movie will adhere to the book. Here is a link to the trailer for the movie. The title of the book is, of course, a reference to '1 Corinthians 13:12': "We see as through a glass darkly" or, "We see as through a mirror darkly". It speaks to Philip Dick's general world-view in that the world we see is not the real world but that we are perpetually occluded from the truth, and see the world as though it were a reflection, a mirror image.

Anyway, back to my original thread of thought. After nearly two weeks without staring at mindless "entertainment" on the television, I can honestly say I feel myself thinking more clearly. It started out as an experiment of sorts. I felt myself becoming contantly distracted, sort of like a cloud layer over my thoughts. What I find most interesting is that the feeling tended to permeate other aspects of my day. I wanted to see, jokingly at first, whether dropping television from my daily routine would have any influence on this lack of concentration and clear thought.

After nearly two weeks, I've begun to feel, overall, better. Though I can't yet conclude that television (a simulation of the 'real'?) is a direct cause, I'm beginning to suspect that it may have a certain acute influence. As nothing else in my daily routine has changed to speak of, I'm led to believe that my suspicions may hold some truth, and the experiment merits pursuit.

This morning as I was waking up I turned on the television for a moment and the first thing I saw on the news was two people fighting (an actual rolling around fistfight) over a laptop computer at some department store. Black Friday apparently has a way of bringing out the true Christmas spirit in people. Upon seeing that, I promptly shut off the television.

I now plan to keep away from the tv as much as possible. The funny thing is that, the longer I don't watch it, the less I miss it. I'm starting to wonder about its comfortable addictiveness and how it has the power to hold us back from achieving. By way of it numbing the mind we forget, and lose the desire, to achieve. Perhaps even more insidious is the fact that we don't even realize it while it's happening to us.

A Scanner Darkly
A Scanner Darkly by Philip K. Dick
Contemporaneous Auditory Narcotics:
or, What my speakers are currently pumping...
Man with No Name - Earth moving the Sun

Creative Commons LicenseThis post is the creative work of Yours Truly and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.


Comment from: EdB [Visitor]

Television sucks. Never mind what little good it might do, television is a stupid invention. Kill your teevee. Don’t give it away, don’t save it for just in case you feel like being stupid - just take it out back and shoot it several times. Life is *much* better without it.

(Was going through old bookmarks and found you in there, then saw this anti-teevee post and had to give it a positive nod even though you got that captcha thing down below)

11/26/05 @ 07:09
Comment from: Alicia R. Plath [Visitor]  
Alicia R. Plath

“I remember as a teenager, I went to Warsaw, when it was still a strict Communist regime? which I don?t approve of at all.

Sure you don?t?

No, I don?t?

No, I?m just kidding!

But anyway, something about being there was interesting, I found. After a couple of weeks, something changed in me. The city was quite gloomy and gray? but after a while, my brain seemed clearer. I was writing a lot more in my journal, ideas I never thought of before.

Communist ideas?

Listen, I?m not?

I?m sorry? Go on?

I?ll send you to a Gulag later. No? but it took me a while to figure out why it felt, you know so different. And then, one day, as I was walking through the Jewish cemetery, I don?t know why, but it occurred to me there, I realized that I had spent the last 2 weeks away from most of my habits. TV was in a language I didn?t understand. There was nothing to buy, no advertisements anywhere. So, all I?d been doing was walk around, think and write. My brain felt like it was at rest, free from the consuming frenzy. And I have to say, it was almost like a natural high. I felt so peaceful inside, no strange urge to be somewhere else, to shop? Maybe it could?ve seemed like boredom at first, but it quickly became very, very soulful. It?s interesting, you know?”

The title alone reminded me of that scene…

07/24/07 @ 20:03