by Gary North
I have read John C. Dvorak for over 20 years. He writes about computers. He recently wrote about podcasting. Podcasting is a new way to create Web-delivered audio files so that people with Apple iPods can download them and listen to them.
Now the idea is to have full-time radio without FCC permission or satellites. This is a way for every pastor on earth to get his sermons out to the public. I'm not sure the public will listen.
Dvorak says the technology works fine with iPods, but it's kludgy with Windows-based or Linux-based systems.
To show his reservations regarding the development at this stage, he ranked it on a list of fun entertainment. Here is his list:
The second half of the list is where he gets contemptuous. I was happy to see PBS on the list. He forgot about public radio's All Things Considered.
At the top of the list is circuses. I had not thought about it, but he is on target.
WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO CIRCUSES?
Circuses were the greatest form of mass entertainment in the late nineteenth century. Families would wait all year for the circus to come to town. The county fair was great, but the circus! That was something special.
Before the days of the animal satellite TV shows — Darwinism in tooth and claw, mostly — there were circuses. Zoos were wonderful, but only big cities had them, and families did not go every year. But the circus came to towns with no zoos. Well, not every town every year. But when it came, it was an event.
It had something for everyone: all ages, all tastes, all cultural layers. It had elephants and tigers and weird animals. It had people with strange deformities. It had people with amazing skills with no marketable value other than amusing the masses.
It had three rings. This was a century before multi-image digital TV screens. Unlike multi-image TV screens, there was something worth watching going on in at least two of them at all times.
The circus gave the lie to Marxism every time it came to town. Here was an event where the masses went, but the ruling classes went too — or secretly wanted to. Here was the free market in action. There was nothing the State did after the fall of Rome that matched the circus for its entertainment value for the masses.
Nothing had a longer run. There were circuses in ancient Rome — hence, bread and circuses. Here is a medium that held the attention of mankind for as long as there are records. The circus delighted young and old for millennia. I can't think of any other public spectacle that gave more fun to more people for a longer time span than the circus.
I can remember Ringling Brothers. The company still tours, but not since Eisenhower's first term have I gone. I can remember taking my kids to a Clyde Beatty circus, the remnant of a once-widely known competitor to Ringling Brothers. It's still touring under the big tent — not some sports arena — as the Cole Brothers. The performers appear to be mostly Latino. This is not a career move for Anglos.
The last circus I went to was in the late 1980s. The younger kids liked it. I liked it. I can still see some guy balancing himself on his index finger. (I earn my income in much the same way.) Two of my kids got to ride on an elephant, along with half a dozen others, and the saddle almost fell off. Adventure!
Does any family fondly remember sitting around a TV?
TOO MUCH, TOO SOON
We live in an entertainment-glutted era. Our lives dribble away in front of television screens. We are satiated, addicted. There are few entertainment events in our lives that are touchable events. They are mostly digital. We even call this virtual reality. It provides virtual pleasure. We can cheer at a ball game, but unless it's a minor league baseball game, and unless there is a sense of participation among fans, there is not much to remember. Some team won. Another lost. Not an elephant in sight!
We are not only satiated, we are jaundiced. It is all ho-hum. We have seen it all before, from age 6. Our children develop antibodies to family fun at a young age, rather like the man I knew who ran a woodlot and was immune to black widow spiders after three decades of bites.
Christmas perseveres, but it is toy-centered, not events-centered. Families do not sit in the stands, jointly enraptured by the sight of people doing incredible things 50 feet above the ground.
I have decided. The next time a circus comes to town, I'm going, even if I go alone. These days, I can't see a circus on television, as I could a generation ago. Ed Sullivan is long gone. Besides, a circus is meant for participation. It is meant for once in a while.
I'll take some kids from church. I wonder how young they have to be to still enjoy the specialness of the event? Maybe they are so far removed from circuses that they will experience what children experienced a century ago or a millennium ago.
If Las Vegas can still pull us in with "Circus Circus," we are not completely gone culturally. If, to lure us in to throw our money away on the law of large numbers, the marketers of Las Vegas have identified a longing for the big top, then there is still hope.
all know the story of the six blind men who examined parts of an
elephant. They were doing something worth remembering. Six blind
men watching Jerry Springer aren't.
March 29, 2005
Copyright © 2005 LewRockwell.com