3d Entry: March 12, 2010
pp. 58-59: Bloom on Television
“Nietzsche said the newspaper had replaced the prayer in the life of the modern bourgeois, meaning that the busy, the cheap, the ephemeral, has usurped all that remained of the eternal in his daily life. Now television has replaced the newspaper. “
Now, this is a favorite whipping boy of those who feel that our souls are endangered in ways never present before. But how persuasive is this? When the prayer was the center of a life, were human beings so much better? This is really little more than a sophisticated version of the argument: “Well, two kids watched Beavis and Butthead and they burned down a house so these two kids did the same thing!” First: two out of how many? It is never said. And Bloom seems to think that when TV did not exist and everyone was reading books, all was fine with the world. But it wasn’t and, in part, because not everyone was reading books and even if they were all would not be fine. I mean when I was young, I attended mass all the time and priests said the mass in Latin. But they also were abusing young children and being protected by the church. Is that because the mass was said in Latin? I doubt it. It was because some priests were pedophiles and others, for whatever reasons, sought to protect these pedophiles. Every day, in elementary school, a passage from the Bible was read over the loud speaker. Did that make us better or touch our souls? No, because no one was listening! No one, to speak candidly, gave a shit because whatever was being read did not and could not touch us. But it made grownups feel better so it was done. No harm was done but no good was done either.
Bloom is continually falling into the trap of thinking there was, once upon a time, a golden time – long ago in the past or, for him, just before the 60s, when everything went to hell – for Bloom. This is comical, if you think about it. Before the 60s and advent of TV, rock n’ roll, drugs, the New Left, the Black Power movement, the feminist movement, the gay and lesbian coming out party, all was well in the United States. Children respected their parents, who in turn really cared for their children, related to them in healthy ways, and the schools were putting out philosophers right and left. Funny, though, I don’t remember my childhood that way at all. In fact, I would say that when I went to college – and this was before the 60s really became the 60s – people, students were pretty much like they are now. Most were there because, well, because someone thought it was a good idea. They might even had learned a thing or two while there. But it was a good time and that is what most remember about those years.
I mean would anyone want to resurrect the music of the 50s? The movies of the 50s? The race relations of the 50s? The male/female relations of the 50s? Just watch the TV show “Madmen” to answer these questions. And, you see, you can learn from TV.