Thursday, June 24, 2010

Suburb of the Soul

I spent yesterday in a nightmare world of telephone calls to and from Time-Warner Cable.  I've disconnected my cable television (but not the Internet connect), so now, damn it, I'll miss out on True Blood, Mad Men, and Curb Your Enthusiasm, except to the extent that I can keep up via downloads from iTunes and other sites.  But I had to make the break.  The digital feed (or whatever it's called) sucked--staggered images, asynchronous sound, some channels totally inaccessible; it was getting to the point that I had to unplug and reboot once or twice every time I turned the TV on.  (I don't even remember rabbit-ears being this much of a pain in the ass.)  Then there's the robotized "customer service" to contend with.  It all put me in a J. G. Ballard frame of mind this morning:
"I would sum up my fear about the future in one word: boring. And that's my one fear: that everything has happened; nothing exciting or new or interesting is ever going to happen again ... the future is just going to be a vast, conforming suburb of the soul."--J.G. Ballard (interview, 1982)
"For me the intentions of background music are openly political, and an example of how political power is constantly shifting from the ballot box into areas where the voter has nowhere to mark his ballot paper. The most important political choices in the future will probably never be consciously exercised. I'm intrigued by the way some background music is surprisingly aggressive, especially that played on consumer complaint phone lines and banks, airplanes and phone companies themselves, with strident non-rhythmic and arms-length sequences that are definitely not user-friendly." --J.G. Ballard (interview, 1994) 

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