April 20-26 &
THE AVERAGE PERSON, WATCHING TELEVISION FOR FIVE HOURS PER DAY, IS PHYSICALLY ENGAGED WITH—LOOKING AT AND EXPERIENCING—A MACHINE. TO THAT EXTENT, THE PERSON IS NOT RELATING TO ANYTHING ELSE IN THE ENVIRONMENT. BUT THE ENVIRONMENT OF TV IS NOT STATIC, IT IS AGGRESSIVE. IT ENTERS PEOPLE’S MINDS AND LEAVES IMAGES WITHIN, WHICH PEOPLE THEN CARRY PERMANENTLY. SO TELEVISION IS AN EXTERNAL ENVIRONMENT THAT BECOMES AN INTERNAL, MENTAL ENVIRONMENT.
Let us move on now. It was stated that our mental images have an independent life, that they are like beings within us. Further consideration will convince you of this. You will remember moments in your soul life when the external world seemed to have nothing at all to offer you, despite a desire on your part to be stimulated by it, to receive impressions, to experience something. It simply had nothing to offer. It passed you by without leaving any impressions. You then experience something as a result—boredom. Boredom causes desire in the soul. It gives birth to a longing for impressions, and the soul life is surrendered to it; yet there is nothing to satisfy that desire. Where does boredom originate? If you are truly a good observer of nature, you might have observed something not often noticed—that only a human being can become bored. Animals never become bored. Only superficial observers believe that such a thing is possible. You can even become aware of a strange aspect of human boredom. If you investigate the soul life of a simple, primitive people, you will find that they suffer far less boredom than is found among the more cultured people with their more complicated soul life. Those who go about the world and tend to be observant will notice that country people are much less prone to boredom than city dwellers. Of course, you should not think here of studying how bored city people become in the country, but only the degree of boredom country people experience in the country. Your attention should be on the more complex cultural conditioning of soul life. Thus, there is a real difference in the degree to which human beings are prone to boredom. ...
TODAY, HOWEVER, AFTER TEENAGERS COME HOME AND BEGIN TO SLIP INTO DOWNTIME WITH ITS ACCOMPANYING UNPLEASANT FEELING, THEY REACH FOR THE TELEVISION KNOB. THIS STOPS THE SLIDE. USED THIS WAY, TELEVISION IS A MOOD-ALTERATION SYSTEM, LIKE A DRUG. AS THE MOOD COMES ON, THEY REACH FOR THE DRUG, JUST AS ADULTS REACH FOR THE DRINK—OR THE TV—AT THE END OF THE DAY. SO TELEVISION FOR YOUNGSTERS, IN ADDITION TO BEING A DRUG, CAN BE UNDERSTOOD AS EARLY TRAINING FOR “HARDER” DRUGS. OBVIOUSLY, WE ALL HAVE WAYS OF ALTERING OUR MOODS. HOWEVER, I DON’T THINK MOST OF US SEE OUT TV-WATCHING AS A MOOD-ALTERING DEVICE. UNDERSTANDING IT IN SUCH TERMS GIVES NEW MEANING TO THE FACT THAT THE AVERAGE YOUNG PERSON WATCHES FOR NEARLY FOUR HOURS PER DAY. BY REACHING FOR THE TV DRUG, A GENERATION OF YOUNG PEOPLE ARE SHORT-CIRCUITING THEIR OWN DOWNTIME. THEY ARE NOT ALLOWING THEMSELVES TO LIVE THROUGH THE PITS OF THEIR OWN EXPERIENCE, OR TO FEEL THEIR OWN CREATIVE RESPONSE TO IT. THE NET RESULT, I THINK, WILL BE A GENERATION OF YOUNG PEOPLE WHO ARE LESS ABLE TO ACT ON THEIR OWN, OR TO BE CREATIVE. EDUCATORS ARE ALREADY TELLING US THAT THIS IS SO. THIS HABIT MAY ALSO BE DEPRIVING YOUNG PEOPLE OF THE FUNDAMENTAL SELF-KNOWLEDGE THAT DEALING WITH ONE’S FEELINGS PRODUCES.
There is a cure for boredom, which is approximately as follows. Living in our continuing mental images are not only desires, but meaningful content as well—meaning that continues to live in the soul. This is what enables us to carry mental images acquired in the past into the future ourselves. When the mental images themselves bring something to us from the past, that is again the mark of higher soul development. It makes a great difference whether or not we possess mental images that continue to interest and fill our soul life in the future. Thus, there is a stage beyond which one can be bored, but for those who fill themselves with meaningful mental images, such images continue to act in the future. This is the difference between those who can cure their boredom and those who cannot. Such an inability indicates the independent life of one’s mental images, a life that cannot be controlled and to which one is subject. If we do not make certain that our mental representations have meaning, we become bored. Only through meaningful mental images can we protect ourselves from boredom.
WHEN PEOPLE SPEND THE GREATEST PART OF THEIR LIVES RELATING TO TELEVISION IMAGERY, THEN TELEVISION IMAGERY BECOMES THE GREATEST PART OF PEOPLE’S LIVES. IT BEGINS TO SEEM LIKE LIFE ITSELF. TELEVISION IMAGES DEFINE THE TERMS OF PEOPLE’S UNDERSTANDING, THE BOUNDARIES OF HUMAN AWARENESS. WITHOUT AN OFFSETTING SYSTEM OF IMAGERY IN PEOPLE’S LIVES, TELEVISION IMAGES TAKE ON A QUALITY OF REALITY THAT THEY DO NOT DESERVE.
NOTES: In the Absence of the Sacred: The... The failure of Technology & the Survival of the Indian Nations , Jerry Mander: first passage p.76; second and third from p.83 to 84, last from p.87.A Psychology of Body, Soul, & Spirit, Rudolf Steiner: first and second passages from p.100 to 101; last passage p.103.
Do you see what all of the fuss is about?