The Farnsworth Dictation

the farnsworth invention coverBeen too long, dear worst-reader. When was the last time I read a play? Back in the day, I used to read plays as fast as I could afford to get my hands on them. I love(d) reading plays. In fact, I preferred reading them to putting all that effort into watching them. But watch them I did as well. Yeah. Back in the day. Now that life has taken that turn (where so many lives are taken) and self-medicating and avoidance is a substitute for reading, it was gonna take a bit more than curiosity to get me back in the saddle. Which brings me to a different form of self-medication. Btw. Self medication is more than the use of caffeine, alcohol, recreational narcotics, sex as sport. Yeah. Self medication is also anything and everything that takes the mind away, where avoidance (of everything) is the norm. You can see it everyday. The automatons walking the sidewalks with their heads bent over and their eyes glued to those mini touch screens.  Or the compulsive behaviourists, aka careerists and corporatists, who spend their bored lives binge watching Mad Men, Sopranos, House of Cards (US), etc. And we see it in the rest of society that hasn’t made it, the Have-nots, who don’t know any better than to compete with the Haves so that they too can enter the realm of glorious avoidance and self medication. Yes. It would take more than just hearing about a new play and saying: yeah, maybe I’ll get to that one when I wake up (someday). Enter Podcasting.

Worst-writer prefers beer and podcasting when it comes to avoidance and self-medication. I prefer north German Pilsner to any other sort of beer. Goodness knows I hate all this “micro-brewed” krapp that’s popping up everywhere. The bitter and pure the beer the better. In summer, I like beer cold. In winter, I like my beer cool at best and sometimes will drink it at room temperature. And that’s all fine and good. Which brings me to another form of avoidance that has nothing to do with chemicals and misbegotten biology. Podcasting. I listen to at least one if not two podcasts everyday. Seriously. And I’m not even ashamed to admit it. In fact, I’m proud of it. Proud because I haven’t watched so-called “TV” in about five years. I know what you’re say dear worst-reader. You’re saying, “Well, Tommi, you asshole, you got off the norm only to replace it with the same difference.” And that may be true. Still. The point isn’t so much about competing–as a Have-not with the Haves–but instead being able to say I’m not a fucking lemming or an automaton and my life is bad-ass digitised to the hilt. Yeah, baby!

So I’m listening to a tech news podcast the other day before the daily beer drinking alarm goes off and the subject of who invented the television comes up. The moderator was shocked to hear that his audience didn’t know who invented the TV. At that moment I figured that the moderator was gonna proudly teach his audience something by saying the name Philo Farnsworth. But he didn’t say it. Instead he told his audience to go see a play called The Farnsworth Invention. And that’s when bells & whistles went off in my head. Talk about motivation. I had no idear that someone had written a play about Philo Farnsworth. What an interesting story that would make, I thought. In fact, I thought once or thrice about writing a play about something similar. Of course I never got around to it (because avoidance and self-medicating took over). But that’s all neither here nor there.

The Farnsworth Invention, a play by Aaron Sorkin, is a great read. And before I continue: WARNING! Spoiler alert.

I finished it the other night and although my usual think-about-it period after reading produces some interesting thoughts–in order to blog about it–not this time. Since I’m well aware of the drama of who invented television–as I’ve put some effort (even while self-medicated) into knowing #americant dysfunctional history–especially the parts of our blossoming as an industrial power–it would take a bit more than a dictation of events on a subject to make it worth my while. There really isn’t a lot to ponder about this piece of dramatic literature, except for the moments where Sorkin takes the author’s liberty. For example. Although it’s quite witty and I’m sure it will give rise to a few giggles in the audience, I really don’t see the necessity of having Philo mistake Douglas Fairbanks for Charlie Chaplin during a situation that never actually occurred–even though its occurrence is implied in this reenactment. Also. Sorkin basically leaves the door open in his story about who snitched on Philo to David Sarnoff so that RCA could utilise it’s legal rights because of an invalid patent. It’s just not necessary to throw in sex-crazed secretaries has potential snitches. The problem is, Sorkin chose a story that is basically a narration by one of the characters who, conveniently, breaks the fourth wall. I suppose it would work if the rest of the story didn’t fail at dramatising something that was ultimately evil–which is ultimately nothing more than yet another example of the true nature of the American Way: greed, coercion, manipulation, authoritarianism, predatory capitalism, etc. Still. The story, as Sorkin has framed it, works well. It’ll entertain a few (an audience). An artist can ask for nothing more. That said. This play, as much as I like it (because I must), just didn’t teach me anything I didn’t already know and on top of that it basically does nothing more than avoids reality. With that in mind. The play kinda reminds me of something Eugene O’Neill might write if he were on ecstasy or meth or both. But then again O’Neill didn’t have the writing staff Sorkin has. Ok. Maybe the drug reference and O’Neill is a stretch. But I’m gonna stick with it only because I could have written Philo’s story better. That’s right. My story would be better because I would get much deeper into the American Way of things–as opposed to buttering it all up. Still. This play is a great read. I liked it. It’s sufficient. Well done Mr. Sorkin. And thank you–and all those like you–for allowing us Have-nots to live in your world.

Rant on.

-Tommi

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Tom

Just another expat blogger.