June 01, 2007

NEWS-FREE JUNE!

The last article I read last night before midnight was about Lindsay Lohan’s self abuse thru alcohol. She has threatened many of her projects, & already in her short life has checked into rehab multiple times. The Disney girl is twenty – don’t many young men & women test their extremes around their sophomore year of college – shouldn’t rehab be for older, crazier celebrities? If I was being handed Million Dollar Bonuses from Michael Eisner, I can only think of three big green words: Chartreuse, Chartreuse, Chartreuse.

Tangentially or not, it was a fitting gross overdose of nonsense media before NEWS-FREE JUNE. Why am I performing this withdrawal? I’ll tell you. While I was working at my bookstore, I lost all focus & the ability to read a book. I spent this repartitioned time reading online newspapers (mostly the NY Times & the Economist). Will cold turkey on newspapers let me read books again? There could be other sources which are poisoning my relationship to literature, even simply my selection, but there are other good reasons to give myself a break:

One, the more you read the news, the slower it seems to happen. It occurs to the casual observer that some serious shifts need to happen in politics & culture – & a watched expectorator never expectorates. I’m doing this for the good of the country.

Also, the beginning of summer is a sleepy time for international revolutions. Could the Decembrist Uprising have happened in June? I can’t think of any thing important ever happening in June. Remember June, 2001, even our virgin commander was gardening.

Thirdly, I’ll be in a good place to avoid the cyber papyruses. In preparation to spend some time this month at this arts farm, I was given a yellowed paperback of G.I. Gurdjieff’s Meetings With Remarkable Men, on the cover of which is a still from the classic Peter Brook film. This morning, honoring my seismic shift in reading materials, I laboriously ascended a mountain of learning (meaning, it was 90 degrees & humid as I walked up the hill to Cornell’s library), & read the introduction. I have been following some omens & coincidences recently, but the fact that the bulk of Gurdjieff’s somewhat silly introduction is ‘quoting’ an elder Persian wise man, & most of that wise man’s speech is a rant again Journalism, was almost too perfect.

The Persian tells a series of anecdotes to illustrate why Journalism is bad for the good of society. In the first, an Armenian living in Tehran is inspired by repeated newspaper advertisements to buy certain sausages for dinner, & mortally poisons himself & his entire family. The executor of his will discovers that the shipment of meat was intended to be exported, but when it missed its deadline, some expense was spent to dump it in Tehran, hence the urgent & deceptive ads. Why are things advertised & how does that affect the content of commercial writing? At least today, we don’t have to worry about the safety of our meat. Ha!

The second anecdote seems almost Melvillean. The elder Persian, whilst staying in Baku, believes a newspaper review that a certain actress is worth seeing. He goes to see her perform, & feels betrayed by the review, because she sucks. “But even taking into consideration my personal standpoint, I must confess that in all my life I had never seen anybody to compare with this celebrity for lack of talent & absence of even the most elementary notions of the principles of playing a role.” (That’s the type of subtle wordy humor which reminded me of Melville.) He goes on to explain that a rich man had bribed various insiders to make a celebrity of his girlfriend. (That’s why the image for the blog entry is William Randolph Hearst’s mistress, Marion Davies, not Lindsay Lohan.)

There’s been a lot of squabbling in the papers in recent months about the integrity of journalism, with fascism & punditism on the rise, & where are the forces that brought down Nixon, et cetera, et cetera. But poor journalism’s just a tool, not a purely sophistic force like Gurdjieff’s elder fears, or an agent of righteousness like David Halberstam’s huge mighty heroes. In all of the Persian's anecdotes, there tend to be foolish or malicious forces behind the scenes which influence the truths conveyed to the public. To do a completely NEWS-FREE JUNE, I'd have to further give up all human-meddled writing, including literature, poetry, religious texts, & the fecund blogosphere.

2 comments:

sarah said...

maybe it was working at a bookstore why you stopped reading. like mcdonalds employees being turned off to crisco milkshakes

John Adams said...

For days I've been dreaming 'bout change in the news.
Four days I've been dreaming 'bout change in the news.