Saturday, January 3, 2009


"The second great-seeming thing is that television looks to be an absolute godsend for a human subspecies that loves to watch people but hates to be watched itself.  For the television screen affords access only one-way.  A psychic ball-check valve.  We can see Them; They can't see Us.  We can relax, unobserved, as we ogle.  I happen to believe this is  why television also appeals so much to lonely people.  To voluntary shut-ins.  Every lonely human I know watches way more than the average U.S. six hours a day.  The lonely, like the fictive, love one-way watching.  For lonely people are usually lonely not because of hideous deformity or odor or obnoxiousness -- in fact there exist today support- and social groups for persons with precisely these attributes.  Lonely people tend, rather, to be lonely because they decline to bear the psychic costs of being around other humans.  They are allergic to people.  People affect them too strongly.  Let's call the average U.S. lonely person Joe Briefcase.  Joe Briefcase fears and loathes the strain of the special self-consciousness which seems to afflict him only when other real human beings are around, staring, their human sense-antennae abristle.  Joe B. fears how he might appear, come across, to watchers.  He chooses to sit out the enormously stressful U.S. game of appearance poker."  -- David Foster Wallace, E. Unibus Plurum: television and U.S. fiction

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