Tuesday, January 2, 2007

My Name Was Legion

It was probably grigorss who, long about 1985, hipped me to the idea of a news diet…and how radical it seemed at the time that one would--voluntarily!--deny oneself those up-to-the millisecond updates on the microstatus of, say, Ronald Reagan’s nap-taking or Daniel Ortega’s ongoing commiehood. How radical it seemed, later, to decide I might not really care about all those oh-so-important events I couldn’t influence or control happening in places I’d never go or be allowed into in the first place.

After my first news diet, I loved the mentally less-clogged, calmer new me, and later read endorsements of the diet plan from the likes of Robert Anton Wilson and my beloved Mary Daly…and from time to time since that doldrum decade of the Eighties I’ve dieted when I felt it was necessary or when it was imposed on me; in 1998 I spent six weeks out of the country and watched and read their news, which made little sense as I didn’t really understand their political system or know much about their society…imagine my surprise on returning to the US of A and finding the Bill and Monica show in full swing! Why had I not heard about this?? Maybe because—it didn’t matter?? Because it was completely, totally inconsequential except maybe to Bill, Monica, and Hillary? But...that foreign news I’d been imbibing... did it matter? Was it all just bricks in the wall…nodes in the Matrix?

I was all but macrobiotic when the 2000 “election” went down, but fell off the wagon into a tub of Ben [Bradlee] and Jerry [Springer]’s synapse-gorging info-goo…checking constantly the Times, the Post, CNN, and later, as my hunger grew over the Shrub years, newsmap, the BBC and the Guardian (so I could know what was going on in America), and Reason, and Arts and Letters Daily, and of course the Snopes clan grandaddy of all online media, the Drudge Report

and in the past several months, after a period of controlled intake, I really got into it—news crack, news smack, mainlined headlines, zoning out to the javascript crawl on the BBC web site until I knew…it was time. So I programmed the NPR stations out of my car radio, ceased to read even the Times (except for the Science page and the ads for those multimillion-dollar apartments), I admitted I was powerless over information, and came to believe that a power greater than myself could restore me to uninformed sanity. I unplugged. And I feel great! Look at my new hat size—

Maybe the eating/drinking/drugging metaphor I’ve been using isn’t the best one. Several weeks ago, as I was about to begin this diet, I was in my car with, of course, the local NPR news/talk station on. Laura said to turn the volume down until I could hear the sound but not distinguish the words. When I did this, the staticky gurgle coming from the speakers no longer sounded smart, hip, and concerned, but, in Laura’s words, sounded like the black-magical incantation it really was.” Can one be demonically possessed by Corey Flintoff? Are those waves of fear, anger, pity, and righteous indignation that overcome me when I’m all newsed up really... malevolent forces? Laura said something about not allowing my psyche to be colonized…but did she mean vampirized? Perhaps at this very moment there’s a nearby herd of swine who have become very interested in the findings of the Iraq Study Group…


  1. grigorss11:27 AM

    Glad to hear you're enjoying the news diet -- The New York Times has a nutty, substantive flavor suitable for an entree; NPR makes a delightful side dish, and if you must have one, 'The Daily Show' is a tasty dessert!

  2. I've gone through periods of news ebb and flow. Sometimes I don't even look at the funnies, which means I'm thoroughly obsessed with the writing at hand. It's life on another plane entirely.

    When I do imbibe it's through either NPR or the St. Pete Times. I've given up TV news almost completely.