By Vladimir Golstein
Friday Cat Show. 2020 Christmas Edition.
VG. So we are off to the last show of the year. Time to sum up this nasty year. Anyone wants to start, except Hobbs?
ALICE: Indeed, who needs Hobbs negativity. We have enough of it. We should look at the bright side. And in that case, the future is glorious. Trump – despite his petty tricks – is out. That’s already the best news of the year. Then we have … Let me think…. We have the vindication of science. Vindication of Western values. Vindication of western political and economic system. We were ready or can always get ready for anything. You need Zoom, we have zoom. You need vaccinations and testing and masks. We can produce those in a sec. You need entertainment at home, we can crank up mini-series much faster than Soviets ever produced their films on young years of Lenin, or the triumphant march of communism across the globe. And last but not least: Jeff Bezos’ ex. She gave millions and millions to all the underprivileged colleges in the States. Isn’t it a triumph of human benevolence and vision. That’s how you fix the system. One college at a time.
HOBBS: Can I say something before this endless barrage of Alicesplaining. Or call it NPRsplaining, or NYTsplaining. Why do we even tolerate this establishment shill in this household? They are the establishment because they know how to spin. There are mechanisms and algorithms, and time tested practices of getting people excited about something, of providing them with red herrings, of creating a buzz and of turning stupid fads into real trends. I understand that you, Vladimir, is trying to be politically correct, and let Alice get away with murder, but let me quote Uncle Joe, and I don’t mean Bunker Joe or Sniffer Joe, or My-Son-Saves-Ukraine-From-Russia Joe, or Empty-Gesture Joe. I mean the real Uncle Joe, who once said, “who needs both Alice and NPR when just NPR will do.”
ALICE: Blatant lie. I am not channeling NPR. I sometimes read New Yorker, at least the first seventy pages of each article they publish. I also read tweets of the most brilliant and progressive people. I don’t have time on all sorts of alternative loonies that you guys follow.
VG: Speaking of loonies, I think that this year was the year of Censorship. What an Irony. 2020. Symbol of perfect vision. Instead we are now confronted by perfect obfuscation. CIA tells the major publications what stories to run and what spin to put. Social platforms ban, suppress, silence, erase people from existence much faster that Stalin did with a few pictures that he ordered to edit. Western academics make careers tracing how one shady character in Stalin’s secret police disappeared from the photographs, people write books imagining career of people who spend their time retouching official Soviet paintings or pictures. But when Twitter or FB is doing it on the massive scale, it is all the new normal. No New Yorker articles exposing the tortured life of fact checkers or social media morality police.
HOBBS: The Year of Censorship is Good. Also the year of fake solutions to real problems. Like the Zoom that offered this fake solution to human separation and alienation. Serious and profound issues confront the world. The issues that are rooted in history, geography, economics, politics. There are real diseases and real festering wounds. Not the pandemics de jour, or another outrage de jour. And yet, the world prefers to zero on the myopic problems and myopic solutions. There are real viruses that erode the soul, the heart, the mind. Yet, we zero on puny little hairy ball that we all have to capture by wearing masks and closing businesses. This hairy ball is real, and so are thousands of other illnesses. But what this year had revealed to us, is that it is the media that designates the problems and proposes solutions. Spying had been going for centuries. And so did political interference, and abuse based on all sorts of prejudices. Yet, we know see that for any of it to become real, they have to be declared real by BBC or NYT. Thus, we have RussiaGate, or Russia hacking, but never US Gate or British Hacking.
VG: Good point, Hobbs. Gogol has this amazing story, called Diary of a Madman. The poor guy – weak and insecure to begin with – is thrown over the edge due to his ceaseless reading of a popular newspaper. It is this newspaper that bombards his mind with the news of Spain, and China, and Germany, and all sorts of intrigues and exposures and threats and dangers. He eventually loses his mind and declares himself a King of Spain. Frankly, I something feel that we all inhabit this crazy world of Gogol.
ALICE. So you are trying to say that a lot of people don’t see the forest for the trees. Fine, we’ll get there eventually. But in the meantime, do you really want these crazy characters of Gogol – get away with their nonsense of being Kings of Spain. For four years we had a similar King in the White House. We need to return to normalcy, and in the meantime, these madmen and those who read them, should have their mikes turned off. Nobody wants to listen to them. It is they who offer fake solutions.
HOBBS: If one side offers fake solutions, does not mean that their critics are any better. Censorship never helped anyone except corrupt and myopic leaders. Spinning, fear-mongering, demonizing the opponents, short-termism never helped anyone, excerpt the corrupt and myopic leaders. If this year is any indication, we are on for a very bumpy ride. Instrumental knowledge, the ability to crank up Zoom when it is needed is good, but only in short terms. In the long run, the inventions that keep people apart even while giving them the semblance of community are as useless, as electing a mediocre political insider who is borderline senile and hoping that he’ll accomplish anything meaningful.
VG: Well, Hobbs, no wonder I didn’t want you to start. In any case, time to have a shot of vodka and slice of salmon. Thinks will surely look brighter after that. Happy New Year to everyone!