Wednesday, June 8, 2016

A Letter to My Son

Hi, Holden. I'm down at JCO doughnuts and coffee in Sanur, as usual for around 7 in the evening, especially when Louis is out of town, and I thought I would write a note to you instead of reading a book, which I normally would be doing. Currently I am working my way through The Count of Monte Cristo, in Indonesian - not because it's any better in Indonesian,  but because most book stores here only sell books in Indonesian. Somehow, I managed to skip classics like this during my journeys in literature. It's actually quite a good book. 

At 7:30 here, I note that the temperature is 35C, which translates to 95F. Add 80 percent humidity to that and you get something truly hellish.  

Anyway, what I wanted to say, before I forget, is that I've figured out what the problem with America is - and I'm only half kidding. The problem is TV. 

Lately, I've been watching a lot of contemporary American TV shows on my iPad, most recently the drama shows. What we often find are three recurring themes. One is the love of catastrophe. Whether it is a zombie apocalypse or an incurable plague or a nuclear disaster, these total, irreversible breakdowns of the world, and particularly America as we know it, afford the viewer, as the writer Walker Percy once noted, a miraculous sense of hope - that the numbing prison of modern malaise, the deadly drudgery of every day life, might after all vanish in a sudden flash of light. We are free again, life is simple again, focussed, moral. 

A second theme involves the notion that we have all been pawns of a sinister power - that being our government and our various official institutions. Whatever disaster has struck, you can bet that by season two, it will become clear that the villain is organized authority. The disease was created in a government lab, the zombies were the product of a plan to control the common people with chemicals in the air, the war was the result of a secret alliance with aliens, and so forth. 

Thirdly, there comes the celebration, the glorification of the common man, of human ingenuity, of the human spirit which somehow, of itself, is intrinsically moral. There either is no God, or, if there is, it was He who caused this mess to begin with. Some foolish people still pray, to be sure, but they are the first to be eaten or otherwise croak. 

In all cases, something has gone terribly wrong, and nothing else could have been so terribly right for the world. And we won't be fooled again. Whatever "they" tell you, it's a lie, it's a trick. They want your money, your freedom, your guns and your soul. We're all the victims of an astounding conspiracy, but now our eyes are open and we are wise. 

So that's my theory in a nutshell. What do you think?

I hope all is well with your laptop and wifi. Haven't heard from you lately, but I'm supposing you're just busy. 

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