SARASOTA, FL 1995: The slow sea rises, sheer cliffs crumble, and powerful tides humble
the sands of Lido and Siesta Keys. Our solons here in Sarasota
debate the problem and legislate accordingly, against the sea and
in favor of littoral property owners. Laws, in response to the
tide of violence inundating the commonwealth, are a similar matter.
Although the effect of law upon participants in such activity is
problematical, we demand to have "tough anti-crime legislation"
enacted. "It isn't the whole answer but it won't hurt", goes the
argument. Perhaps our city council ought to make the Gulf of
Mexico culpable for environmental havoc. Clearly, something needs
to be done.
For years I have been baffled by Plato's "Republic". It seems
incongruous that the author of the other dialogues and a disciple of
the kindly philosopher, Socrates, would take up the cause of the
ideal State in totalitarian and elitist terms. My own years with
corporations persuade me that the probability of despots manifesting
benevolence is nil. In addition, philosophers worth their salt make
ineffective kings; they just don't have the stomach for the job.
On the other hand, the fun I had, in my younger days, bartending and
cab-driving persuades me that culture, as defined by a totally
democratic electorate, consists of absurdities and inanities.
Some claim that TV and video-games are responsible for waves of
violence in our society. Could the Nazi government's Gestapo and SS
have been more brutal had they been tutored by "Miami Vice" and
If there are to be changes made, let's start with school-books. To
my mind, the meaningful steps in man's ascent are art, literature,
music, science, invention, and philosophy. My history texts in
lower education focused upon wars, empires, political thugs, alliances,
battles, flags, crowns, bombs, assassinations, and conquests.
Religion contributed execution, martyrdoms, and divine involvement to
this edifying list, but is now woefully banned from our governmental
If it is true that today's youth don't read, the books don't need to
be burned; we can get on with the job of improving TV. How can it
be accomplished? No advertising executive in her right mind should
spend a dime sponsoring "Hamlet" in the same time-slot as "NHL Hockey".
Besides, the former might violate governmentally approved criteria for
entertaining the minds of a next generation non-violently. Those
delightfully entertaining war-movies made for the government by
Hollywood, calculated to arouse a previous generation's citizenry
into paroxysms of international ethnic hatred and patriotic ferocity,
seem never to go out of style. If national interest justified them
at the time, what explains their anachronistic popularity today? -
John Wayne? Chickens come home to roost.
I am as averse to being mugged, shot, stabbed, and blown to bits by
misguided souls unduly influenced (by anything) as the next person.
Shaw's cynical Devil claims convincingly that man's real heart is in
his weapons. Marketing data of video games tend to confirm this
hypothesis. Could many of the absurdities and inanities of the human
comedy be accounted for by the bestial ancestry of mankind's brain?
Is this trait one and the same with that which thrills to media mayhem?
Do primitive or hormonal factors in human nature demand control,
worship omnipotence (a bewitching blend of wrath and righteousness),
and glorify conquest? Do they explain the tiresome preoccupation with
two ordinary physical capabilities, violence and sex (for their own
sakes), to which entertainment producers pander incessantly for
Clearly, as I said before, something needs to be done. While musing on
these weighty matters it occurred to me to read again "Brave New
World". Instead, taking my cue from the final admonition to Candide,
I went fishing, making my own peace with a calm and patient sea.