Jewish World Review Dec. 20, 2004 / 8 Teves, 5765
The gift of disinformation
This year Americans will have spent 98% of their cash reserves and 73% of their credit on gifts that will involve learning new things. Even the most apparently traditional gifts such as earrings and boots will have new clasps and pulls that require learning. From there, the difficulties multiply, beginning with wrappers created by puzzle-whizzes, to total bafflement as to what the object might be and complete ignorance as to its functioning.
Everything on the market, from shavers to electronics contains new design and a time-consuming commitment of attention. If you add the value of time wasted in trying to figure out these gifts to the actual money spent in acquiring them, you will come up plumb broke and way in the hole, not just financially but mentally.
There is a national deficit in the making that parallels the huge deficit the government is gifting future generations with. Let's call this Deficit B to distinguish it from the legislated thievery of Deficit A. While Deficit A spends your money for such collectively sanctioned fevers as war and making the rich richer, Deficit B is your very own effort at dispensing with your personal capital in order to capture and waste the time of those near and dear to you.
The more money you spend on gifts, the more the lucky recipients will have to learn. The time they spend learning will effectively remove them from the activity of thinking, which is the single greatest enemy of society today.
Both government and the people governed have a single goal today: to prevent thinking. There is no more effective way to achieve this desideratum than learning new things and being worried about money that you are completely absorbed in spending, even if (or especially) if you don't have any.
I submit that the greatest gift you can give anyone is the gift of time devoid of information.
The only greater gift is to strip away information already stored in their brain. Practically, such a gift might consist of an opiate or a very simple new religion (without rituals to learn), or a hotel room without a view in an extremely ugly city.
The goal here is to be amused without being totally bored but not entertained in a way that involves figuring out how the entertainment works. To come up with more ideas about this I am going to walk blindfolded and with ear-plugs through a shopping mall the day before Christmas.
I don't want to hear America singing, and I don't mind the bruises.
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JWR contributor Andrei Codrescu is a poet, commentator and author, most recently, of "Wakefield". (Click HERE to purchase. Sales help fund JWR.) Comment by clicking here.
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© 2004, Andrei Codrescu.