I’ve had a faint uneasiness lately, listening to the radio. I love CBC Radio 1. I listen to it as often as I possibly can. However, lately, when listening to this station I love, I’ve felt differently. It’s most noticable when listening to lightweight shows like “This is That” or “Definitely Not the Opera” or “The Debaters.” But I even notice it when listening to my favorites: “Spark.” “Quirks and Quarks.” “Q.”
It’s a vague uneasy feeling telling me: “This is not important.” And it’s not just that I feel *I* am wasting *my* time. I am a champion time waster, believe me. Rather, I feel that this marvelous station, which is one of the many sources of happiness in my life, should maybe be tacking some bigger issues more consistently. Especially given its influence. When Sook-Yin asks people on the street questions like, “tell me about your most embarrassing moment,” or when Jian interviews Kermit the Frog, as he did today, I feel…well, a bit wriggly. Not that I don’t enjoy hearing the stories, but I wonder if this is really the best use of our time, our funds, and our bright creative minds.
However, I doubt I would have articulated this hitherto vague and muddled sentiment if it weren’t for something I read today.
In my opinion, great fiction identifies and brilliantly articulates the familiar. Puts it into words in such a way that you find yourself staring in amazement at the page and saying, “Why, yes, exactly.” It’s at its most impressive when it’s something that until now had been lurking just at the fringes of your notice. Or when it’s something that you wouldn’t have dreamt that anyone else could be thinking as well.
From Jonathan Franzen’s fantastic new novel, Freedom:
Patty has recently suggested, as an antidote to road rage, that he distract himself with radio whenever he was driving a car, but to Walter the message of every single radio station was that nobody else in America was thinking about he planet’s ruination. The God stations and the country stations and the Limbaugh stations were all, of course, actively cheering the ruination; the classic-rock and news-network stations continually made much ado about absolutely nothing; and National Public Radio was, for Walter, even worse. Mountain Stage and Prairie Home Companion: literally fiddiling while the planet burned!
That’s not to say that I don’t like a good anesthetic sometimes. A lot of the time, even. OK, so I’m anesthetized most of the time, and when I think about it, am ashamed of my moderate indifference and extreme inaction. But if I’m going to fill my head with silliness, I’d, frankly, prefer it didn’t come from our national public broadcaster.