Monday, July 03, 2017

`Fact Is Replaced by Gloze'

“The air is full of noise,
The screen of caper:
Reality enjoys
No inch of paper.”

Our neighbors across the street have us collect their newspapers and mail when they go out of town, and let us keep the former. They subscribe to the Wall Street Journal and the Houston paper. When I still worked as a reporter, at least through the mid-nineties, I read eight or nine newspapers a day. (I’ve always appreciated the photo of Joseph Mitchell included in his first book, My Ears Are Bent.) When I said “read” I mean reviewed with a harsh eye, skipping the sections and stories that didn’t interest me: politics, sports and finance.

On Saturday, all that I read among the neighbors’ papers is the “Review” section in the Journal, in which I invariably find three or four reviews or stories of interest. Saturday’s edition was no different: a “Masterpiece” feature by Robert L. Pincus on Eastman Johnson’s “The Cranberry Harvest, Island of Nantucket,” a “Five Best” sampling of World War II correspondents by Ray Moseley, and an “Everyday Physics” column by Helen Czerski devoted to “The Ring of a Ripe Watermelon.” What do these pieces have in common? All introduced me to a subject previously unknown (Johnson’s painting), or poorly known (the acoustical physics of objects) or proudly but poorly known (why have I never heard of the war correspondent Osmar White?). And all are interestingly and concisely well-written. The severest sin a writer as writer can commit is to write badly. It’s an affront to readers, the language and himself.

In addition, we have no cable television. Besides, I haven’t watched TV news since the Ford administration. I’m always surprised when people say they faithfully follow network news. To me, that means Huntley and Brinkley, who are dead. The lines quoted at the top pretty well sum up my understanding of the “media,” a pretentious word. They come from the first stanza of the second section of C.H. Sisson’s “The Media” (What and Who, 1994):
“The world is fabricated by
A gang of entertainers who
Have replaced God Almighty.

“The universe, made in six days,
Is re-made every day by those
Who hear all that the newsman says,
For whom fact is replaced by gloze.

“The air is full of noise,
The screen of caper:
Reality enjoys
No inch of paper.

“The most expensive lies
Flourish in every home:
Great gulps of froth and foam
Win the first prize.

“Go to the quiet wood
To hear the beating heart:
Leaf fall and breaking bud
Will play their part.

“And so the truth is out
Which only quiet tells,
And as it does, its voice
Sounds like a peal of bells.”

1 comment:

Choderlos Laclos said...

While I certainly applaud the sentiment , Mr Kurp, I can't say that Sisson's poem here is great or memorable.