Friday, November 11, 2005

The Oldest Profession

It’s not what you think. It’s not the one you’ve heard all your life.

The oldest profession is gossip.

Now, we call it news reporting.

Those paintings they’re always discovering on the walls of caves? What do you think that is? Great Art? Great Scott, it’s not!

It’s a newspaper – only there was no paper or ink in those days, so they used what they had: stone and paint.

They say stuff like “The quick marriage between Zarg and Ook is kaput. Zarg was seen at forest clearing #51 holding hands with Blapp, then slipped off to her cave for the night.”

Hieroglyphics? Same thing: “King Farouk has spent the Cairo treasury down to its last thousand dollars, and will have to raise taxes.”

Folk songs? Same thing: “It’s dark as a dungeon way down in the mine.”

As technology has improved, the newsies have multiplied.

But it’s the same old stuff.

Only now we get it from 500 television channels, 500 radio stations and satellites, the newspapers and magazines like “Paris Hilton Digest,” internet sites like “The Sludge Report” and “The Shopping Guide.”

So let’s not get too huffy about people like Judith Miller or any of the other reporters and “institutions” that we shun – or pretend to shun here in the 21st century.

Since all of society is on cultural steroids, why should she be any different?

In colonial days, one of the risks of being a pamphleteer with an unpopular viewpoint was having a couple of goons with sledgehammers break down your door and bust up your printing press.

Now, we have courtrooms and jail houses instead.

Gossip from the respectable newspapers and TV channels. Gossip from the neighbors. Gossip from government handouts.

All the same thing.

And all have been with us in one form or another since we creatures learned to make and use language.

On any given day sources of “information” ranging from the Lofty New York Times or the Nightly News down the line to this lowly blog-site can be full of truth or full of shit. Or anything in between.

And how do you know which is which? You don’t.

You have to rely on your own judgment. And on what do you base that?

In cave days, you could pretty easily confirm the story about Zarg and Ook and Blapp.

Today, it’s much tougher.

So you do what any normal, rational citizen would do, you consult your beliefs.

If you don’t believe in gravity, it doesn’t matter. Gravity will do what it does, with or without your agreement.

If you believe the world is too complex to have happened at random, well – who knows whether you’re right or wrong.

If you believe we should be killing American soldiers in Iraq because it’s the right thing to do, who’s to say.

If you believe that the oncoming subway is an illusion, and jump in front of it, you may have some trouble.

I'm Wes Richards. My opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.™

©wjr 2005

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John G said...

Two more pseudogemeinschaft posts from corporate non-persons. We don't have gossip anymore; we have marketing. Feh.