Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Television versus book versus parent versus Tim

While staying with my parents, I have had an opportunity to catch up with the art of reading while the television is on right in front of you. The art of reading while the television is on right in front of you is an interesting one, really, an art simple, yet complex, like learning how to pat your stomach while riding your bike: once you know how to do it, you don't. It is easy enough to read while the television is on right in front of you back at home in Lalor, because we never have the television on and thanks to the internet we never read either (we prefer to have information intravenously injected through the wireless internet, as this is the most efficient option available). The parents, though, are happily devoted to the quaint custom of watching the television. Remember that time, years ago, when television was supposed to be a dreadful new technology that would cause the collapse of society as we know it and cause the third world war too? No, I don't either.

So, reading while the television is on right in front of you is difficult at the best of times, because while you are reading, say, some essay about the importance of education, you will find that the words, The importance of education to the moral well being of society somehow get mixed up so that you might as well be reading, society of being well moral the, backwards for all the sense it is making to you. You struggle to keep your eyes off the screen, where somebody incredibly photogenic is saying something astonisingly witty for the benefit of several other profoundly witty people, but somehow all you can focus on in your book is a few random words, moral fibre, practice of, the, which fall meaninglessly upon your inner ear and you find yourself instead gazing, transfixed, at the television screen. You scratch your mouth absent-mindedly and you find it is actually forty-five minutes later and you have been drooling. In the minds of that great (ha!) modern genius, Rove McManus, What the?

Then your parents change the channel to SBS to watch a show in which incredibly photogenic people do not speak English at all, but some other language from a country in a sort of northerly direction on the other side of the world. This, you would think, is fortuitous: now it will be quite easy to read your dull essay about The importance of education in modern society in peace, and you open the book to do just that, but of course simple things never are that simple, are they? And all of a sudden you find, instead of being able to read a word of your essay, you are actually focusing on the non-English words that you cannot understand but which sound something like German spoken by Swedish people in Dutch accents for a Danish audience who have been living in Copenhagen all their lives, and you start to try to make meaning out of those words. Meanwhile, you have been trying at the same time to read the book in your hands, but the word sares tartingtom ergetogetherinod dandr ando mways andtheenglishyouoncethoughtyouknewsowellsee msto mak e veryl itt lesen seindee d.

You clap your book shut with a decisive gesture. No, it seems you will not get any reading done while the television is on right in front of you at all. Instead, you open up your computer to engage in a spot of blogging.

"What are you doing?" your mother asks curiously....

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