As you may have noticed from yesterday, I take a dim view of randomness. It's not an anti-scientific viewpoint, either; in fact, I would argue that it's as pro-scientific as you can get to reject randomness as a principle of Nature. My own experience (and science is, after all, the organized study of life, guided by experience) continually shows me that randomness is a pile of bull.
Here's an example: it so happened that the Life Lessons in a Time of War piece I had come to for tonight's entry in my Daily Kos diary contained a message written months ago, but seemingly custom-tailored to this moment, in which a little boy from Texas unzips his fly and discovers His First Veto.
In other news, I found this over at MSNBC.com: a gambling sheet on who's to die in the next and last Harry Potter book. Now, with everything that's going on in the world, you might snort with derision over the mass media's inclusion of this among its "top stories"; and I'd probably be snorting right along with you.
Still, I've written an entire book about certain strains of meaning I've found in the Potteriad, which might be summarized along the following lines:
Government (the Ministry of Magic) tends to be corrupt, mindlessly aggressive, incompetent, obsessed with empty imagery and appearances, and is often aligned with dark forces. The thin disguise for these realities is a glistening veneer of monument and display. Government dwells in an underground darkness, where down is up and up is down.
Media (the Daily Prophet) is a sham of objectivity. The press typically trades in what might be called intellectual cheetos—taste without nourishment. It scrapes and bows to vapid Power, helping to hold up the shiny fabric of lies that covers its depredations and its naked decadence. In the wizarding world, as in our own, the coin of the realm in the media is gossip and the ad hominem attack. Before Karl Rove had ever moved a single pawn on his chessboard of Power, Harry Potter was being Swift Boated by the bad guys in the pages of the Daily Prophet. Before Ann Coulter had hit the cover of Time Magazine, Rita Skeeter was slinging invective and bullshit, and calling it journalism.
Religion has no place in a truly magical life. Barnabus (a founding father of the church) is ridiculed as "the Barmy" and depicted being beaten to death by a troll, whom he was attempting to teach ballet. Voldemort himself, as I make the case in my book, is a Papal figure (maybe that's one reason why the current Pope has gone on record as an enemy of the Potter stories). The real magic of these stories is always done in a spirit of independence, free of the iron weight of institutional authority and religious commandment.
My own experience, again, confirms J.K. Rowling's metaphorical teaching: god visits me more as I sit on the toilet than in all the times I have sat in a pew. True magic is in the ordinary, the domestic, the personal and the intimate affairs of life; the magic of institutional power is an empty display. I find more of god in a peanut butter sandwich than in a thousand holy wafers of the body of Christ; in my daughter's home videos than a thousand episodes of the 700 Club.
So it's not that the MSM misses the right stories to report; it's more that they focus on the skin of each story, ignoring the body behind it. So my advice to MSNBC.com and other MSM outlets would be: take in the skin of a story just long enough to reach for its heart. If you need a lesson in doing that, check out our Quote of the Day, below.
Quote of the Day, from that consistently clarion voice of sanity, Bob Herbert of the New York Times:
That rumbling you hear is the sound of the founding fathers spinning in their graves. Incredibly, under the trials originally authorized by President Bush, prosecutors would have been allowed to introduce evidence obtained through torture and other forms of coercion. The Bush administration didn’t just leave the moral and ethical high ground. It sped away with great enthusiasm.
Well, World Jump Day is over. Have we righted the Earth and corrected its orbit? Only time will tell.