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Hoses of the Holy in the Parallel Universe

April 20, 2005

Millennial Hysteria

It's still going on, isn't it? The crazy behaviour of crowds and, well, people in general due to the turning of the minellium in 2001. You might have thought it would go away, but when we have the benefit of historical perspective, in 50 years or so, we will look back on the last few years of the 20th C and the first few years of the 21st as being an era of rabid religious nutcases and bonkers politicians.

Take the fuss about that Jerry Springer Opera on the BBC. Or the attacks on New York and Washington in 2001. And the death and resurrection of his lordful worshipfulness Pope Benedictine and Bitters, amen.

And in the midst of all this, a media that likes to pretend we live in an Accelerated Culture, an era of instant transmission, instant news, and instant karma. Which they're completely wrong about, of course. First of all, as my old pal Michel Serres likes to say, we're always more ancient than we are modern. And our cities are mostly mediaeval places, not only in their design but in the speed with which we are able to move through them. And people still, on the whole, have mediaeval attitudes and superstitions sticking to them like leeches.

So there was black smoke, grey smoke, white smoke. At ten to five last night, nobody was really sure what colour it was. I happened to have just got into my car to drive home. For the next hour or so, the speculation went on, and the airwaves were filled with media blather as the accelerated people who work in the media waited for events to catch up with them.

Events interest me, particularly the ways in which they defy analysis, and refuse to bow down before the steamroller of reason. They weren't sure about the colour of the smoke, you see. It was ambiguously grey as opposed to one of the extremes; and one thing the modern media can't cope with is shades of grey. One reason they weren't sure, we were supposed to have a bell ringing as an auditory confirmation of the visual cue.

At 6 o'clock, a bell rang: but only because it was 6 o'clock. Eventually the right bells rang, 20 minutes after the off-white smoke. Twenty real minutes which seemed to the reporter(s) like 2 million hours, giving them ample opportunity to repeat the lack of news news about the absence of the ringing bells - probably 20 times in the 20 minutes. Then the bells rang, but of course, you couldn't really hear them under the noise of the crowd and the media blather.

So they spent the 50 minutes after the light grey smoke explaining who would come out on which balcony and say which words. Over and over again we were told what the Cardinal would say, in Latin, and what the Latin meant. Still, when it finally happened, they felt the need to have a woman translating what he was saying, in case we'd forgotten in the 30 seconds since they last told us.And they were so busy talking over the Cardinal that they had to ask the studio in London what he'd said: they missed the name of the liqueur.

I'd have switched off, but I had to keep listening, fascinated, to this jaw-droppingly inept and pointless hour of radio.


  • It's a shame they didn't make a program about the making of the news program about the news of the pope.

    It's awful, isn't it: there's just not enought reality left to fill the airtime.

    I like how all the People in St Mark's Square were weeping with joy. The whole world is so sensitive and beautiful these days.

    You'd hardly credit the fact that everyone is, at the same time, selfish and conniving in this free-for-all world we have.

    Appearance and reality, huh?

    By Blogger SimonHolyHoses, at 8:54 am  

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