Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Culture Without Media

Our only real access to “modern culture” is via the media. Our actual daily life shows very little of it; we're retired and living in reasonably well-off circumstances. What if the media fell silent? It’s difficult to picture that, but I can play with the notion in my imagination. In that case we’d have to take our cues from what we actually see and hear. Most of that is quite coherent, peaceful, and orderly; much of that is actually laudable. We have strong indications of trouble and incoherence only where modern “systems” touch us, particularly the health care system, and specifically its administrative and financial aspects.The same is true of banking arrangements. Brigitte battles “the culture” at right regular intervals by telephone, fax, Internet, and mail trying to force it to behave properly. Occasionally we interact with a wider public. Sometimes, in those settings, the greater problems of the culture surface in word-of-mouth contexts. Shopping trips sometimes bring to view, up close and personal, signs that don’t always encourage good cheer. We have glimpses of France—its educational systems, its work environment, its health system—through the eyes of our daughter, Michelle. Shards, strips, filaments of cultural shredding thus occasionally come into view directly too. But our actual image of the great whole reaches us by means of papers, magazines, the Internet, radio, and television. These surround us, as it were, with a ghostly dance of words, sounds, and images of gathering chaos. Not our actual lives. But then we live a kind of sheltered life. The evil roars, filled with shrieks, the sound of explosions, the rumble of collapse come from beyond the thick walls and the deep moats that surround us.

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