My father claimed that movies were senseless
Only rarely would he agree to watch one
when coaxed by an attractive woman
because he was a man above all else.
When TV first began to reshape humanity
he announced the end of civilization;
“ An end to reading, doing, living fully;
The death of imagination and communication.”
“Not so.” Said I. “ It’s access
to people, places, and learning;
A unifying force for language,
to culture, and limitless knowledge.”
Held by austere and fiercely focused ways,
he studied and underlined documents,
buried himself in the files and papers
of his dusty crowded little office.
Over troubled years his deep earth
mining projects lived only on paper.
He never lost a moment at all
To senseless entertainment or TV.
His isolation grew by loss of hearing
Which he desperately tried to hide
pretending, nodding quickly, alertly,
but refocusing on some urgent task.
Stubborn dissimulation and isolation
worsened his mind’s deterioration,
progressive loss of independence
and episodes of humiliating confusion.
He lost professional connections,
Lost his right to drive,
Lost his bright charm for women,
Lost athletic grace and skill,
and suffered bouts of rage.
His wife of sixty years left him.
Anger was replaced by more withdrawal.
and surrender to a quiet survival.
He was unable to care for himself
In his lonely old three-story home.
I visit in the rest home when he is 93.
Gazing at a 42 inch screen from his recliner
Smiling constantly, pretending he knows me;
I reflect on the cyber world outside,
and suspect he was always right about TV.
We set free a cyber genie’s power to serve,
mastered his universe, but never ourselves;
starved of wisdom, fatted by suspect knowledge,
we wait in that genie’s bottle to to devolve
and be thrown back in the seminal sea.
This decade is as joyful as those gone by;
Fortune and loss, forgiveness, and forgiving,
failure and success, have come and gone
by chance, perhaps, more than merit.
Empowered by word processing and browsing
with instant infinite access to electronic books,
I do only what I really want to do
as allowed by a forgiving wife;
I teach, read and write shamelessly;
Travel, and can often visit family.
I walk the mountain though not fast
and a sturdy llama carries my pack.
I drive easily but warily at night.
I think, perhaps, this the best of worlds.
But a familiar voice speaks to me: It says:
‘ Pangloss! What are you trying to prove? .
It’s His time, not yours. Haven’t you noticed?
You used to have no time for movies or TV.
Now you find this the golden age of Cinema.
All things sedentary rule your life.
Your mirror and sphincters– low and high–,
complain of the years gone by.
You rest for hours after exercise,
and sleep nine hours at night.’
“ Nonsense! I can’t hear you.” I say.
“ Go away! I don’t see you.
And if I do, I don’t understand. ”
“Then why answer me?” the pesky voice replies.
“ Ah! It’s you, Dad.” I say. “ Please be still.”