Tuesday, January 04, 2011

I Can't Watch!

I'm still off news. Soon I'll have a ninety day-chip! And I feel some real mental health effects, or at least some distance from my daily consumption of Truthiness. I've long noted that the morning newspaper is really just a textual hypnotic, an addictive distraction precisely like soap opera, or a sports team's season, missed acutely like a cigarette when it's not on the stoop in the morning, but habit aside, not needed at all.
The news people insist that they're superior to bloggers becuase they deal in "fact," but they really deal in stories, stories which, like any, must be constructed according to the aesthetics of fiction in order to sell.

Their stories must have conflict, antagonists, heavvies/heroes, bullies, underdogs, or perhaps just (especially?) well-matched teams, and of course scores. Score must be kept somehow in numbers: dollars, votes, fatalities, degrees fahrenheit, acres underwater or on fire, et cetera, et cetera. What they call facts are really what the practitioners of fiction sees as "authenticating detail" -- that which charms the reader into suspending disbelief.

I used to try to tell my students this back when I lectured in Contemporary Literature but they mostly stared at me like I was speaking Swahili. What, the news not real? Next Professor X will be telling us God is dead! If their faith in our Free Press were to be undermined, why... where would it end? That might mean... Free Markets don't regulate themselves!

Still, the fact remains, and seems clearer to me the less I drink from the firehose of "news" that spews 24/7, that most of it is precisely authentic as professional wrestling, and its practitioners deserve no more respect than the steroid-freaks and ringmasters of WWF.


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