Sunday, January 27, 2013

Trompe L'oeil or Mud in Your Eye


I was a child of radio. I listened to the  Lone Ranger, Captain Midnight, The Inner Sanctum (with its squeaky door), Gangbusters and, when I was very little, Let's Pretend.

Interspersed with, and punctuating all my childish entertainment, were the voices of men like Gabriel Heatter, Hans Von Kaltenborn and Edward R. Murrow.

It was an eclectic lineup for a kid and the selection was not always my choice.  However, by osmosis, the tenor and timbre - and unquestioned honesty - of radio voices became a yardstick by which I came to measure and treasure verbal intercourse.

I knew that if I heard it on the radio, it was right....at least the pronunciation and enunciation were right. In all likelihood, so was the information. (Barring, of course, commercial claims. And, even those bore a stamp of veracity greater than those of today.)

The same can be said of newspapers. At home, The New York Herald Tribune and The New York Times were daily bread. Starting in my early teens, I knew that whatever word or phrase was used by these paragons, it was correct....or it was corrected in a small box the next day, or the next edition. 

Just so were the words issuing from the mouths of the men (mostly) whose voices set the standard for correct grammar and diction to die for.

And here we are today. Instead of  riding an upward moving trajectory of excellence, the educational and informational  standards for radio and television and, alas, the written word, have collapsed like a tower of Babel beneath the weight of ignorance and declining standards.

But now, even more distressing, we are surfeited on a daily diet of lies from semi-respected news sources (sources Murrow would have squashed with his cigarette butt), parodies of news that seem real and are often quoted, and, heaven forfend, something  called photo shopping.

This last may be the ultimate sacking of truth and trust. While you can establish the truth of a piece of news, if you care about probity, by mounting your own research, when your eye has been fooled, leaving no clues, you have been taken in a way that smacks of lots and lots of trouble.

It's fun to see improbable things. And I like to believe in improbable things. But reality is a healthier, if not happier, place to reside.

Beware the Jabberwocky, my friends. Entropy lurks. The Shadow knows!

-30-   



 

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