I have been thinking a lot about the surface nature of my life experience. I’m reading American Mythologies by Blonsky.
I am fascinated the way we conduct our public discussions in such false terms. False intimacy of the whispered voice on the radio. False appearance of the tv announcer informing you (he or she is not….. they are entertaining you or trying to).
Blonsky and his ilk (postmodernists whatever) realize that the current intellectual discussion often occurs in a rootless fashion. Our talk to each other is torn away from the context of what has happened before. We search for referents in our recent experience. I can talk about Ted Koppel. You might know him (Blonsky interviewed him for the book I’m reading…. it’s in a later chapter, but you can already tell that Koppel got his goat: He quotes Koppel early on as saying the trick is to not “be on the record. Be an empty vessel.” Perfect.). But would you recognize other people in my intellectual world: Proust, Kafka, Stein, Couperin. Maybe you know the names. But I find that usually I have to fill in so much information about the ideas of these people that what people tend to hear is disaffecting intensity. That Jenkins. He’s a pretentious asshole who takes himself way too seriously and talks about boring boring stuff.
So the opposite of being entertained is being bored.
Entertainment is getting a bad rap these days I think. At least I’m working on my own honesty about it. Usually if I enjoy something (a piece of music or poem or book or piece of art), it’s basically entertaining me. I’m very interested in stuff that has no purpose other than it’s own being.
Once I detect that the main thing the composer, author, recording company, college prof is trying to do is sell me on something, I get less interested. A lot less interested.
Nice little article in yesterday’s New York Times Mag: “Here, There, and Everywhere” by Walter Kirn (get the title reference? Beatles song?)…. His point is that advertisers seem to shoot themselves in the foot by proliferating to a ridculous extent. He wonders who they think he is. I wonder that sometimes. I figure that politicians and businessmen/women are so caught up in their own silliness that it fails to occur to them that the way they see the world is different from so many people. At least different from me (and Kirn, I guess).
Boring (sic) quote from Blonsky:
Depth is a category that pretends to penetrate the surface and find gravity, marshes, passions, history, conflict, soul, compartments, origins, hidden motives, density, evil, sin, and abysmal precipes…..
Surface …. is choice, speed, irreversible, aleatory, euphoric, flighty, cool, rootless, visual, sentimental, comfortable, detachable, fun, well-being, changeable, and a historical. Let the realm of the mask, for the moment, assert itself.
So I’m mired in both.