A bad trip

Despite the severe character flaws I possess, I must confess that I have never done drugs. Cigarette smoke have invariably been cycled through the respiratory system of another human being before passing into my lungs. My last attempt at making a quick buck was well over three years ago – it was blackjack with stakes at a staggering 20 cents. Alcohol I will readily admit to, although I have only ever paid for it once. Judge as you will. Shocking on my part, but the penniless poet student card is all too easy to play amidst a wage-earning crowd.

I only tell you this because I would like to establish a baseline for my immoral compass. So that when I say I’m in a state where I need valium, prozac and the like to sustain some semblence of cognitive ability, you’d be more likely to lend a sympathetic hand, rather than to thrust it, while clenched, into my face in a rapid, repetitive motion.

It was with this less-than-ideal mental disposition that I picked up Nick Davies‘ book, Flat Earth News.

I ought to have known better. It was only “truly shocking” and “explosive”, a “brilliant” and “exceptionally important” “landmark expose” about a “morally bankrupt profession” that is “in desperate need of fundamental reform”. Sort of a your-worst-fears-confirmer in just under 400 pages. Not the faint-hearted, clearly.

To be honest however, I wasn’t quite that shocked by the experience. Not if that involves jumping out of my bed in two and half nanoseconds of blinding terror, while curdling my flatmates’ blood with a screeching yelp. It wasn’t like that. Rather, I liken the experience to that of that asinine security guard in the first Austin Powers film, who stood petrified as a steamroller advanced inexorably to relieve him of his life. The incredible knowledge that pours forth from the pages and into your boggled mind has a quality of tangible physical distance, yet simultaneously psychologically arresting. The material danger remains distant although closing, but you can’t flee. The futility of attempting escape drains your strength. So you relent and cower as abject fear consumes you.

But this steamroller doesn’t hit you. It’s sort of a watered-down climate change – the looming promise of environmental meltdown, getting ever closer but never near enough, laden with an equally overbearing sense of doom but not quite as apocalyptic.

After all, it’s nothing quite like the prospect of cities drowning under rising seas, populations dying from drought or rival factions warring over scarce resources. It’s just the news; it is getting less truthful, decreasing in quality and verve, and narrowing in scope. Our manifest destiny in the information age caught an unfortunate snag; while globalisation diminishes the expanse of our planet, our knowledge about what goes on around it decreases in tandem.

It’s all rather depressing really. Quite alike those “rite of passage” moments of epiphanic realisation, when you finally clocked the fact that Santa Claus was a myth/girls do fart/it wouldn’t actually stay that way forever if you keep making that face, Davies’ exposé demolishes our collective fantasy of trustworthy news in an era of commercial logic-driven journalism.

They say ignorance is bliss. Now that I know that I have been force-feeding myself with piping hot ignorance fresh off the printing press every morning, laced with propaganda and disinformation for good measure, I ought to feel better about myself.

Oh, and did I just ask for some valium? Screw that, I’ll just go read the news.


~ by spiegel2071 on September 22, 2009.

4 Responses to “A bad trip”

  1. how about marijuana? seems pretty hot in the states

  2. I like your writing.

  3. […] in the life of this prepubescent blog, I was rather gushing in my comments about a certain Nick Davies’ Flat Earth News, on how it challenges common wisdoms, confirms […]

  4. […] in the life of this prepubescent blog, I was rather gushing in my comments about a certain Nick Davies’ Flat Earth News, on how it challenges common wisdoms, confirms […]

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