Beacon to the Nations

A few months ago and despite my better judgment, I spent some time watching the NFL playoffs. Seeking relief from rather than in work, I soon was reminded that the tube is a conduit of malaise and of pop cultural propaganda. For every glimpse of the tenacious gifts of Dan Marino, there were hours of dumb talk and worse commercials whose gist was a kind of asinine "we are the world" homogeneity. Czech nuns and Moroccan pimps talked earnestly of software. AT&T told me "to know no boundaries." One moment I was watching helmeted, 300-pound sociopaths break dancing in the end zone; then in a blare of electronic music they were replaced by a winsomely handsome brown youth leaning lazily against the rail of a coral. Was he dreaming?

Apparently not, though I wish I had been. Intercut quickly with his happy face were noisy, dusty scenes of painted magi gyrating to a digireedoo. Suddenly, a Coke bottle fell out of the sky. They all drank of it. They danced happily together. It was California 2001.

But I didn't want to buy the world a Coke. I wanted to watch Marino. "That's what the world wants today," I muttered scroogily. And then I remembered Milan Kundera's apposite comments on attempts to legislate a nation of perfect harmony, "where every man is a note in a magnificent fugue and anyone who refuses his note is a mere black dot, useless and meaningless, easily caught and...

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