Once upon a time I delivered appliances. Or I actually helped a guy who did. I was just dumb extra muscle. But I got to go in a lot of houses over the course of a year, and I can count on one hand the number of homes that had books in them. I mean real books, not Chicken Soup for the Soul type crap (although there aren’t really many of those either). I mean nobody but nobody had books. One of those who did was a college teacher. She had all sorts of interesting African artifacts as well, but she was a blessed anomaly. In general, we live in a cultural desert.
A friend of mine works in the homes of the wealthy installing high tech electronics and whatnot. Smart homes are the hip new thing among the rich and well born. At any rate, my friend makes decent money hooking up their silly toys. These are the summer homes of the super-rich, genuine one-percenters, and he tells me the same sad tale: no books. On the other hand, one house has seventeen flat screen TVs. Four in one room. These people are so dull and unimaginative they can’t think of anything more important to spend their money on than televisions. It’s actually quite sad.
“Gee, honey, what should we do today?”
“I know. Let’s buy ten more TVs. One for each bathroom!”
“Baby, you read my mind!”
This is precisely the kind of witless excess that precedes revolutions, or at least reformations. Then again, we have full grown adults who get excited about Captain America in 3D. We have people who think Jay Leno is funny. We have people who watch Good Morning America and consider Go Daddy commercials worthy topics for earnest debate. It is possible that we are so completely narcotized and immature, so utterly flabby and clueless, that we just might be revolution-proof. It just may be that consumer culture has led us to the end of history, as it were, and it’s a fat guy in a baseball cap staring at an iPhone and playing fantasy football. He is completely aliterate and aspires to nothing beyond gross material pleasure. He laughs at commercials and says things like “It’s all good.” If he was a millionaire, he’d own seventeen flat screens too.