I haven’t attacked my TV recently, but I might soon. Sometimes I think the only reason I haven’t kicked it in is because, well, TVs are expensive and I like Parks and Rec. I like a lot of things, actually. My TV and I are tight most of the time. It tells me good stories, shows me interesting people, makes me laugh. Doesn’t judge me for my addiction to Oreos or my tendency to huddle under tons of blankets in the winter. We’re pretty close—we trust each other.
There are also times when I just want to karate chop the heck out of it. Where the “media” that we hear about in our liberal arts schools, or that we hear about from our conspiracy theorist friends, or that we hear about through the media, tries to attack us in our very own living rooms.
I’m talking about commercials. Horrible reality shows. Stupid, sexist new anchors. I’m talking about information coming at me all the time, from every direction. And I huddle deeper into my blankets, turn up the volume of my music, and realize it’s too loud. I need to turn it off. It’s all too loud.
I’m in the middle of reading David Lipsky’s Although of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself: A Road Trip With David Foster Walalce, and in it he quotes (ok, it’s more of a novel than a quote, so if you don’t want to read it, whatever) DFW as saying:
“Life seems to strobe on and off for me, and to barrage me with input. And that so much of my job is to impose some sort of order, or make some sort of sense of it. In a way that—maybe I’m very naive—I imagine Leo [Tolstoy] getting up in the morning, pulling on his homemade boots, going out to chat with the serfs whom he’s freed, you know. Sitting down in his silent room, overlooking some very well-tended gardens, pulling out his quill, and in deep tranquility, recollecting emotion.
And I don’t know about you. I just—stuff that’s like that, I enjoy reading, but it doesn’t feel true at all. I read it as a relief from what’s true. I read it as a relief from the fact that, I receive five hundred thousand discrete bits of information today, of which maybe twenty-five are important. And how am I going to sort those out, you know?”
And here’s more information, and more, and information about information, and a blog post yelling in your face about—don’t you ever just want to slap down the screen and tell me to shut up?
It’s the ultimate filter, the one in our brains, that has to sift out the people selling us jeans on the street corner and the people selling us insurance on T.V. and even the bloggers, even whatever I’m shouting out at you. I’m sorry for shouting.
I get worried that it affects my writing. That the little sentences and ideas I jot down on the train aren’t writings, but symptoms, little corporations designed by my T.V. and my headphones and the man preaching on the subway. I only carry them from one place to the next, molding them to fit some form that make me a little bit happier with them.
Ultimately this is might be a post about an old, worn out writers’ problem: how to write something true. How to create something real in a world where it seems like everything has already been created and there’s been a remake (and obviously the first one was better, except maybe The Hunger Games, I really liked Catching Fire).
So, remakes aren’t always bad. And maybe these ideas, molded into something I like better, really are better than when they were crammed into my brain. Maybe twisting and learning and accepting what’s always being thrown at us, we can create something to throw back.