There’s nothing on

Smiles of a Summer Night

I didn’t have cable growing up, because, as my mother rightfully pointed out, I would have watched it all the time. So I think that “there’s nothing on,” a common whine of the period, was pretty justified. I mean, we had something like five channels in total.

Now I sometimes feel that way about the internet, when all my regular haunts either haven’t been updated recently or don’t contain anything of interest. This is clearly irrational. There is always something “on” the internet. It’s akin to that parental gem about only boring people being bored.

In this spirit, I try to break out of my internet rut from time to time. At other times, there is no rut (the feast v. famine phenomenon). For instance, over the last couple days, I’ve seen great material everywhere, such as this article on reality and authenticity and marketing from The Awl, and this essay it links to on David Foster Wallace. Or this discussion on Slate’s Double X blog about The Conflict: How Modern Motherhood Undermines the Status of Women, by French feminist Elisabeth Badinter. I guess the latter book has been bandied about in many places online for what one of the Slate discussants says is “18 months,” but damned if I’ve caught any of the conversation. Perhaps it is only because the topic is recently relevant to me that I am just now noticing.

Anyhoo. There is always something on, especially online. But also on TV, now, and then: when I was a teenager, I turned on the TV out of extreme boredom one night at one or two a.m. I ended up watching Smiles of a Summer Night on PBS. I found it very strange at the time. Years later, I saw A Little Night Music and realized it was based on that same Bergman film. And just like that, my teenage boredom was transmogrified into smug cultural self-satisfaction, a feeling so potent that I’ve apparently carried it around with me for years, waiting for a moment to impress no one about it.

Now that the moment has come, I hope to present it with as much self-deprecation as I can muster, in deference to David Foster Wallace, the trap of solipsism, and the impossibility of a truly authentic response. Read that link above! Good stuff, even if I don’t agree with all of it. I was convinced, for example, that its author is not a writer of fiction, though I found that’s not the case.


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