Every day I ask myself why I waste my time and mind paying attention to national and international news. I remind myself often to let it all go, leave it to them that want it. Evidently I want it. I justify interest by believing I like to know the signs of tsunami coming before it reaches my shore. I'm not sure there is anything to that. The news, current events, gives me the illusion in my mental construct of how I imagine "things" are that I understand what is "going on." I get a false report from one place, a false report from another, put them together and conclude I have a true report. I read in one of Gore Vidal's essays years ago that we have no history. History is written from letters, journals, memoirs, all of which are self-serving, and newspaper reports that we all know are incorrect. I recall wondering about this in school, though not nearly so articulately, questioning I had to put aside to pass the tests. The contest between Putin and Obama I look at like I think I have some understanding, but know that I actually have none. They are no more than names and faces for me, both of very different worlds, different minds from my own. I don't even understand my world.
I'm guessing the appeal of keeping up with the news is ongoing alterations and additions to the construct in my mind of "what's going on." A serial, tune-in-tomorrow. We call it "keeping up." Even ones who don't pay attention have a mental construct of what it is they ignore. The most recent news is the Somali terrorist attack on a mall in Nairobi, Kenya. Suddenly it occurred to me what a misfortune it must be to have Somalia share your border in the state Somalia is in now, no law, no government, lotsa guns. It's even more a rogue state than USA. It's what the Teabaggers in America want, but they say, "Not like that." How else? White instead of black? The Wild West has been an idea we in America have longed to go back to, the Golden Age, where we're so free we need to carry guns and ammo everywhere we go to protect ourselves from other free people, and everybody is like in John Wayne movies. What I suspect this really translates to is the 1950s, the television idea of culture with Andy Griffith, Ozzie & Harriet, Father Knows Best and a host of others. Some years ago a woman from the Florida Keys asked me if the people here in the mountains were like on Andy Griffith Show. I said, There's nobody like that anywhere. Made her mad. She wouldn't have any more to do with me.
The Fifties television idea of life in the middle-class suburb was as far off the beam as the television idea of the Wild West. History and contemporary living were idealized unto children's fairy tales and stuck as the character of what we think used to be. That silly thing about the Fonz representing a Fifties hood (hoodlum) is as far-fetched as the white (Syrian) actor, Michael Ansara, playing Cochise the Apache warrior. These are slap-stick representations. Hubert Selby's Last Exit To Brooklyn is a closer representation of the time than any of the tv shows. And it was site specific. It appears that the Fifties television fantasy has set the standard for middle-class American culture. The politicians attempt to apply that Fifties gloss on themselves and pretend to live by the fairy tale as if it were reality itself. These are the hollow people TS Eliot wrote about. I hear George Clinton singing in my head, Fantasy is reality in the world today. It's a fantasy we buy with mental and emotional investment as well as with our money. What kind of fantasy is involved in buying a Cadillac pickup? I'd guess a different fantasy for each buyer.
I want to separate myself from the mind of what makes our news events happen. I'm like a Teabagger where the news is concerned: no news is good news. I could remind myself of that more often. I have a better day in the spirit when I pay no attention to who is killing whom. We make assessments about "this country" from daily news. Surprise people mowing down a bunch of people by surprise is surrealism itself. Can I say this is a surrealist country? Yes. No. The question encompasses a great big land with several cultures, economic levels, belief systems. How can I assess the whole from a few parts? That's what I do. It's the best I can do. It's not much. It's entirely illusion. Maybe I'd do a whole lot better ignoring news events from different places in the world, paying less attention to American political news. At the same time I look at what I believe I know as illusion inside illusion, I remind myself I believe it responsible to pay attention when one lives in a democracy. I know better than to act like we're in democracy, but so what? I don't have a great many years to go. Why spend my last years frustrated watching the decline and fall of the American Empire with so much attachment I get worked up and pist off? I remind myself I'm not in a democracy any more and it doesn't do to pay too much attention in a totalitarian state. I must withdraw further.