Monday, January 26, 2009


It's been suggested by many friends and co-workers that I...well, that I like to complain.

Fine, yes, granted: I do complain a lot. But it's not something I enjoy. It's not as though I view the world as somehow failing to live up to my lofty standards. Let's face it, living in these interesting times, anyone who is awake and paying attention can't help noticing how far out of control things have spiraled, and I consider it my duty to point this out, thank you very much. Far too many of us have been bred for cynicism, have noticed all that is wrong with the way we live and responded with a passive shrug. Me, I'd rather rage. Even if I know that rage will be ultimately impotent, I'll know that I by God fought instead of submitting.

Trouble is, sometimes I complain even when others see hope. Take Obama, for instance. Yes, he's doing some good things, he's making the right moves. For now, that's all very inspiring. And I hate to rain on anyone's parade, but...

The fact is, nothing susbstantial will change. Obama's just a tool, a cog in a machine he and his supporters may not fully understand. They still think in terms of nations and peoples, but...Well, let's let Paddy Chayefsky break it all down, in this classic scene from the 1976 film Network. There is much valid criticism to be made of this movie--none of the characters are characters, just mouthpieces for the author's points of view, and the thing as a whole is bitterly misanthropic and borderline misogynistic--but its impossible to argue with Chayefsky's fundamental point, best expressed in this beautifully written scene, and expertly delivered by Ned Beatty. The fact that some of the particulars may have changed, that ITT and ATT have been replaced by newer entities only underscores the point: There is no entity, only a system. To which I would merely add, complaining about such a system is the least--and maybe best--we can do.