I know I forget things, but I didn’t know it was so obvious.
It isn’t really, but more and more I’m noticing it.
I dial a number on the phone and forget who I’m calling. I go to the store and forget what to buy. Someone will tell me something, I’ll forget it, they’ll tell me again, I’ll forget it, they’ll tell me again, showing a funny-looking smile.
We all forget.
I forget names, faces, phone numbers, addresses, appointments, instructions, directions.
This is something that’s been happening, more or less to everyone, but especially me.
I forget Jenny doesn’t like to be called Jennifer. Sometimes I call her “hey you.” I forget where I’ve parked the car and then for a long, long moment, too long for comfort, I forget what the car looks like.
Forgetfulness has gotten into the air and water. It’s entered the food chain. Maybe it’s the gum I chew or the coffee I eat.
Maybe it’s something else.
Either I’m taking something and I don’t remember or I’m not taking something and I don’t remember. My life is either or. Either I drink fructose corn syrup soda or I drink coffee. Either I drink coffee or I gain weight. Either I gain weight or I run up the hill at the football field.
It sounds like a boring life, but I hope it lasts forever.
The one thing I don’t forget to do is look and listen. There are codes and messages that mark our species unique. These codes are best hidden in the exact medium which prides itself as a mirror to society: television.
The average American sits in front of the glowing rectangle for six hours a day. I can’t think of anything else I do consistently for six hours a day except for forgetting which may be more these days. TV is filled with content to entertain, to inform, to propagate; but does this constitute as a worthy activity to inhabit our lives for so long in the day on a daily basis? When someone tells you they don’t have a television, they either took Portlandia too seriously, or the sudden image you are struck with is one of a sort of wild child, a savage plucked from the bush, intelligent and literate. He is probably the most interesting person you talk to in the day.
Or is he?
TV is only a problem if you’ve forgotten to look and listen. We have all felt the urge to turn against the medium just like earlier generations turned against their parents and their country. The realization of time sets in for the viewer and an introspective flurry of explosions propels them to not only resent the box in their living room but loathe the appliance. Television today is another name for spam emails.
I can’t accept that. We must learn to look as children again. We need to absorb the content and find the codes and messages. I’ve been sitting in my room for months watching TV, listening carefully, taking notes. It truly is a great and humbling experience. Close to mystical.
Waves and radiation. The medium is a primal force in the American home. Sealed-off, timeless, self-contained, self-referring. It’s like a myth being born right there in our living rooms, like something we know in a dreamlike preconcious way. This box, this reflection of society, it offers incredible amounts of psychic data. It opens ancient memories of world birth, it welcomes us into the grid, the network of little buzzing dots and lines that make up the picture pattern. There is light, there is sound. What more do you want in a miracle? Just look at the wealth of data concealed in the grid, in the bright packaging, the jingles, the anecdotal commercials, the products hurtling out of darkness, the coded messages and endless repetitions, like chants, like mantras, like worship. The medium overflows with sacred formulas if we can remember how to respond innocently and get past our irritation, weariness, and disgust.
But it’s just like spam emails, they say. Television is the death of human consciousness, according to them. They’re ashamed of their television past. They would rather talk about movies or the internet.
Take a closer look. Realize what the box is doing, what the purpose of the program is. The paradox of these actors who play on the voyeuristic desires of humanity and pretend to go about their business like they are not being watched by millions of people yet consequently want nothing more and actually hope and pray that millions of people are watching them, it’s stimulating.
I made it home, wet and tired, cold. These walks remind me that people can complain all they want about the desensitization of mass media and video games and movies, but on nights like this they are all inside their homes feeding the very thing they hate.
The true evil in our society is music, but that’s a conversation for another day.