on drama

i watch relatively little tv. but when i do, i feel tired afterwards, like my mind, which has become accustomed to the visual and auditory surrogate, suddenly has to reacclimate to the slower pace of real life. like that feeling in my guts, looking out an airplane window after landing, and feeling like the plane is moving backwards, even though i know it’s parked at the gate.

at the hotel i stayed at in ghana, i managed to catch the second episode of the L word of all things. i loved it. i was hooked. imagine my delight upon returning to discover it would soon be out on dvd. so over the last several weeks jane and i have been renting a disc at a time of season one. tonight we just burned through the third one, i think we’ve watched 12 anxiety-provoking, heart-wrenching episodes.

once the tv goes off, i go through a period of stimulation withdrawl, and i can’t help but think back to my memories of greek drama in high school. i think we learned that the experience of drama had a transformative, cathartic effect on the ancient audiences. and how afterwards my mind feels relaxed. and full of ideas. free to free associate.

i’m usually pretty down on tv, but that’s only because i think the average american watches enough to merit comparison with the matrix. i can empathize. if one vicarious dramatic experience provides a certain beneficial mental escapism, why not one more?

it’s a slippery slope that reminds me of another conversation i had in ghana. how strange it seemed to me that the awesome addictive power of nicotine, coupled with tobacco’s adverse effect on health, wasn’t eliminated by natural selection. perhaps it’s because smoking is a relatively new invention, or perhaps it just doesn’t kill a person before they’re able to reproduce.

the person i was chatting with suggested something i found altogether more plausible and yet provocative. that the potential for nicotine addiction in humans might actually have been (and continue to be?) evolutionarily beneficial because it offered one more thing that made life seem worth living, in the face of all that might not.

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