Rendered Fat Content


Henri-Edmond Cross: L'air du soir (c. 1893)
" … we're all better than continuous commotion."

I was once a news junkie. I'd wake to NPR or the BBC blaring the latest headlines at me. I'd continue throughout the day, listening in whenever I found myself on the way somewhere. It was the soundtrack of my life. I rarely missed the evening summary of the day's events and felt deficient if I hadn't received the latest dispatch. It was as if I might close the difference between ignorance and well-informed by simply tuning in and being told things. I rarely watched television news, which seemed so sixties and suburban to me, not so much like reality as was the radio broadcast version. When on exile in Colorado, I grew to depend upon the ten o'clock local television news for the latest weather, which was often threatening and usually entertaining. Since we've returned here into a much smaller market, I haven't even bothered to figure out how to watch local television channels. The radio features better graphics and brighter colors. Audio books, even better.

Kurt Our Painter listens to a locally-produced hate radio station most days.
Hate must be properly curated to achieve its intended effect. He claims that he listens for company. Painting's a largely unsocial activity. That news isn't so much information as propaganda, delivered with the same cadences Goebbels used to such enormous effect. Even more than we like being told how it is, people love being told how it isn't, complete with the slightly sneering delivery as if the announcer was somehow omniscient and able to discern the truth and the whole truth about how anybody isn't. Second-guessing every blessing and disinforming about everything else, I cannot bear to listen to the yelping. I suggested with the delicacy of anybody wondering dangerously if Kurt had ever considered audio books as an alternative. I noticed that he exhibited a few early warning signs of having been contaminated, which exposure to any repetitive story might naturally accomplish. I worry about that boy and all others who find their jollies being lied to.

Such is the news and its pretenders. For me, if it enters through my ears, it bypasses some useful edits. It's straight to acceptance if I hear it, usually without question, like hypnotizing a chicken. Slick production only eases the process. I'm rendered helpless to deflect influence of the audio track. I'm consequently growing more careful about what I allow in through my ears. I strongly prefer midcentury modern jazz and the American songbook. I almost never find the patience to listen to the news or its proxies. I've been noticing that I'm much more interested in Homemade news than its national and international equivalents. I learned during Trump's reign that whatever he promoted was disinformation. He lacked consequence, made little sense, and exhibited blessedly little long-term influence. Since he seemed to presume me an idiot, I easily ignored whatever he pronounced since it was very likely simply fake news, anyway.

Now I stumble upon a radical notion, proposed by Rutger Bregman, author of
Humankind, A Hopeful History. He suggests LosingNews as an antidote to several ills of modern existence. He's not promoting ignorance, quite the opposite. He's proposing that we pay closer attention to our own experience instead of the reported goings on of others, especially exceptional events. He reports that in spite of news to the contrary, humans can be most properly characterized as kind. We are at root, the data strongly suggests, thoroughly decent. We are not usually mean or cruel or greedy or stingy or violent. These characteristics belong to exceptional experiences, ones I might characterize as "newsworthy" because they occur so infrequently, and they thereby comprise the news we consume which goes on to consume us. A steady diet of news, however, might convince anyone that exceptional Black Swan events characterize the ordinary and thereby produce a poisonous meme. Most people, it seems, believe themselves to be worse off than they actually are, that they might descend into chaos or worse if it weren't for the presence of the police and strong leaders or arming themselves to their dentures. The news has successfully convinced most that they're teetering on a Lord Of The Flies experience, when they're actually living the opposite.

I still read my NYTimes every morning, but no longer the print edition, which isn't available out here in the hinterlands, anyway, thank heavens. I read my Washington Post, too, but I only rarely read any article clear through to the end unless it exhibits exceptional writing. Content's secondary. The world remains in tenuous balance without my following every perturbation. I remain well informed if from a distance. My diet of daily upsets has diminished. I don't believe in the popular conspiracies and I do not miss the fuss. I'm trying on a Homemade notion that we're all better than continuous commotion.


Friday arrives again without fanfare. It crept in through the backdoor this time. I've felt my writing lackluster this week, an extractive rather than expressive or enthusiastic enterprise. I feel weary of the Great Refurbishment effort and I ache for a break from the continuing demands of it. At the same time, though, I've been noticing myself making choices which might serve to prolong the project. At root, a part of me does not want this striving to end, even with a successful and satisfying conclusion. It's become an annoyingly satisfying joy, like writing sometimes seems. Readership's down 40-50%. I wonder what that means? I'm sixteen installments into my Homemade series and still gaining my sea legs.

I started my writing week with definite deference to the experts we've hired to refurbish our villa, casting myself as their butler in
Buttling. "We are each in service to our possessions whether Homemade or boughten, Buttling our primary occupation, not manor lording."

I next revisited the idea that instructions might be better understood as Destructions in
SelfDestructions. "Anthropologists disagree on whether it's fool hardiness or courage driving the opening of the box."

I described an apparently common companion to Doing It Yourself (DIY), Doing It (To) Yourself, in DI(T)Y."The ultimate DIY effort seems to be cleaning up those earlier, innocently ignorant DI(T)Y efforts."

I reported on my physical state in Ache-ers. "I do not wish for my youthful range of motion, but the breadth experience has left me with."

I next rhapsodized about the influence of my lovely refurbished windows in Winderz. "Master of my windows, maybe, finally, more master of myself. Windows are not passive elements of any house."

I foreshadowed the ending of our Grand Refurbishment in ButtoningUp. "A certain sadness descends upon the Mountain Men as civilization threatens their feral ramble. The wild times cannot ever last forever."

I concluded my writing week polishing brass in BrassMonkey. "I didn't want it to end. I bargained with my monkey self, suggesting that perhaps final buffings might be warranted when the brass gets mounted, and that prospect quieted the monkey's mind a bit."

My monkey mind has not stopped chattering yet, though I've put it on a diet restricting its intake of breaking news of exceptional events in favor of some more serene Homemade alternatives. I can make up my own stories instead of listening to others'. I might even catch myself enjoying my own experience, however unexceptional. … Dateline The Pop-up Paint Shop: I'm intending to sand baseboards today. Film long before eleven. Dog bites man. Cat contentedly purrs. I could get used to LosingNews. Thanks for following alongside.

©2021 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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