26 jul. 2011

Silent as a blank page

'The night sky seen through a telescope'
1886
From where I stand now, the universe appears to be a silent everything; it is as silent as a blank page. Unless luminous pollution prevents you from seeing it (an increasingly frequent curse), every night you can walk outside your home and contemplate the magnificent, deafening silence that surrounds us; that silence is us. Or rather, we are just a tiny, insignificantly minuscule part of that splendidly booming silence. Only by staring at it can you realise how still it actually is. How little we can actually say; what negligible substance our words are when compared to the imposing silence of the blank page we call universe. Yes, we are just a blank page, waiting to be filled with the Word.

However, you may choose to be sitting on your three-seater leather sofa while you’re holding the remote, and you might perchance feel like an Ancien Régime king; voilà! And you’ve become an almighty god who can erase images with the flick of a fingernail on a tiny plastic button. TV brings plenty of reality shows to your illusory life: some of them are highly political and may involve everyday matters such as weight loss, cooking or dancing, or they may even have some educational value; others are just hilarious, after the now classical pattern of the comedy or the farce, like Question Time in the Parliament of your democratic choice, which is all but a reality show purely designed to make you wonder or laugh at buffoons you might again vote for in three years’ time.

Fortunately, though, you can always switch the device off or change the channel in order to bring a more palatable reality into your dreary life. Technology may have at last brought true democracy into the amusing routine fictions you’ve been mistaking for your life. While the French people changed history by resorting to violence and guillotining their king, Louis XVI, you can easily depose a Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition from your domestic realm and at the same time by simply changing to some other channel; there, rare wisdom by the name of In the Night Garden or Boohbah will give you your necessary daily dose of sanity.

What’s more, these home-based deities we have all become entitled to be can exercise their fickle power while getting absolutely smashed on the poison of their choice on a Saturday night. Modern lazy almightiness has achieved new powers thanks to the digital interactions; you can send your manna-like drivel in less than 140 characters and see it a few seconds later being run across the newsreel and potentially read by millions of other sluggish gods at their homes – whether drunk or sober, who cares, really – mind you: it means far more instant readers than Aristotle, Descartes or Schopenhauer will ever get.

The blank page I’m staring at as I write these inconsequential words feels unusually silent tonight. Outside, the universe seemed to scream at me (and at you, too) for a hundredth of a second.

It was a false alarm, though. I’d better turn that TV on and bring some pacifying noise into my delusional life before the blank page of universal silence drives me (and you, too) insane.

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