Turn off, tune out, and drop in

We can get rid of the television set. As soon as we see that the TV cord is a vacuum line, pumping life and meaning out of the household, we can unplug it. What a grand and neglected privilege it is to be shed of the glibness, the gleeful idiocy, the idiotic gravity, the unctuous or lubricious greed of those public faces and voices! And we can try to make our homes centers of attention and interest. Getting rid of the TV, we understand, is not just a practical act, but also a symbolical one: we thus turn our backs on the invitation to consume; we shut out the racket of consumption. The ensuing silence is an invitation to our homes, to our own places and lives, to come into being. And we begin to recognize a truth disguised or denied by TV and all that it speaks and stands for: no life and no place is destitute; all have possibilities of productivity and pleasure, rest and work, solitude and conviviality that belong particularly to themselves. These possibilities exist everywhere, in the country or in the city, it makes no difference. All that is necessary is the time and the inner quietness to look for them, the sense to recognize them, and the grace to welcome them. They are now most often lived out in home gardens and kitchens, libraries, and workrooms. But they are beginning to be worked out, too, in little parks, in vacant lots, in neighborhood streets. Where we live is also a place where our interest and our effort can be. But they can’t be there by the means and modes of consumption. If we consume nothing but what we buy, we are living in ‘the economy,’ in ‘television land,’ not at home. It is productivity that rights the balance, and brings us home. Any way at all of joining and using the air and light and weather of your own place – even if it is only a window box, even if it is only an opened window – is a making and a having that you cannot get from TV or government or school.

The World-Ending Fire: The Essential Wendell Berry

Title taken from Scott Savage’s A Plain Life: Walking my Belief.

“If we had a motto, it might be the opposite of the one I heard in the 1960s telling us to ‘turn on, tune in, and drop out’. Our slogan could urge the world to turn off (virtual reality), tune out (advertising and materialism), and drop in (on your neighbors, to let them know it’s time to stop being lonely in America). Drop in – into something more real, more loving, than what you’re currently experiencing.”

About smellincoffee

Citizen, librarian, reader with a boundless wonder for the world and a curiosity about all the beings inside it.
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6 Responses to Turn off, tune out, and drop in

  1. Cyberkitten says:

    I never replaced the last TV I had when it died. Haven’t regretted it for a second. Indeed I think it’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever had. 90% of what’s on is junk. The other 10% can wait for the DVD or boxset to be watched. I HATE adverts with a passion and have learnt over time to ‘edit’ them out in my head or just leave the room when they come on (I also used to mute the TV and read for the few minutes of program interruption) – or just watch the BBC (mostly) which is almost ad free – except for their own stuff.

    Like the graphic. ‘They Live’ is one of my all time fave movies.

    • Absolutely! I had the good fortune to be raised largely without TV because of my parents’ religion (holiness Pentecostals) , and amusingly enough a few years ago I gave my set to my parents — who now have two of them! I’m with you on hating adverts and other things demanding my attention. It’s the reason I roll with ublock on and notifications OFF!

      I haven’t seen the movie, but I saw the graphic a few years back and saved it. It seemed to sum up the inhumanity of much of the ‘modern world’ well. Obey, consume, die….

      • Cyberkitten says:

        I noticed a LONG time ago that adverts have one function – to make you feel inadequate just long enough to take your money. No wonder so many people suffer from mental illness. If they just turned off their TV (and stopped using Facebook etc..) they’d be a LOT healthier!

        I think you’d like ‘They Live’. It’s a bit silly at times but its heart is in the right place.

  2. I didn’t have a tv for a few years until someone who had noticed and felt sorry for me gifted me one! I should have told them it was my choice but I was young and didn’t know how to refuse the gift gracefully.

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