Apr 202017

The café was playing this soundtrack.   A friend summarized:

It’s by Roger Waters, originally a Pink Floyd musician (Waters left in 1985 to do a solo career).   It’s about an alien culture that visits Earth after we’ve destroyed it.

And then the alien anthropologists  Admitted they were still perplexed

But on eliminating every other reason  For our sad demise

They logged the only explanation left  This species has amused itself to death . . . 


The song is also anti-war and about how we succumb.

I love Serendipity:  on this same day I read the little handbook (Cdn $11.00 plus tax),

On Tyranny 

Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century, 2017, by Timothy Snyder

  • – – –    Lesson 13    – – –

Practice corporeal politics. 

Power wants your body softening in your chair and your emotions dissipating on the screen.  Get outside.  Put your body in unfamiliar places with unfamiliar people.  Make new friends and march with them.

Poetry that condenses language:


Doctor Doctor what is wrong with me

This supermarket life is getting long

What is the heart life of a colour TV

What is the shelf life of a teenage queen

– – –

Ooh western woman

Ooh western girl

News hound sniffs the air

When Jessica Hahn goes down

– – –

He latches on to that symbol

Of detachment

Attracted by the peeling away of feeling

The celebrity of the abused shell the belle

– – –

Ooh western woman

Ooh western girl

And the children of Melrose

Strut their stuff

– – –

Is absolute zero cold enough

And out in the valley warm and clean

The little ones sit by their TV screens

No thoughts to think

No tears to cry

All sucked dry

Down to the very last breath

– – –

Bartender what is wrong with me

Why am I so out of breath

– – –

The captain said excuse me ma’am

This species has amused itself to death               (Neil Postman‘s book Amusing Ourselves to Death)

Amused itself to death

– – –

Amused itself to death

We watched the tragedy unfold

We did as we were told

We bought and sold

– – –

It was the greatest show on earth

But then it was over

We ohhed and aahed

We drove our racing cars

We ate our last few jars of caviar

– – –

And somewhere out there in the stars

A keen-eyed look-out

Spied a flickering light

Our last hurrah

– – –

And when they found our shadows

Grouped around the TV sets

They ran down every lead

They repeated every test

They checked out all the data on their lists

And then the alien anthropologists

Admitted they were still perplexed

– – –

But on eliminating every other reason

For our sad demise

They logged the only explanation left

This species has amused itself to death

– – –

No tears to cry no feelings left

This species has amused itself to death

 INSERT:   the soundtrack continues . . . 

(Switch Channels)

[Alf Razzell:]   (INSERT:  see Paragragh 2 in the Explanations below)

“Years later, I saw Bill Hubbard’s name on the memorial to the missing at Aras[?]. And I…when I saw his name I was absolutely transfixed; it was as though he was now a human being instead of some sort of nightmarish memory of how I had to leave him, all those years ago.

And I felt relieved, and ever since then I’ve felt happier about it, because always before, whenever I thought of him, I said to myself, ‘Was there something else that I could have done?’

[Background: “I’d rather die, I’d rather die…”]

And that always sort of worried me. And having seen him, and his name in the register – as you know in the memorials there’s a little safe, there’s a register in there with every name – and seeing his name and his name on the memorial; it sort of lightened my…heart, if you like.”

(Woman) “When was it that you saw his name on the memorial?”

“Ah, when I was eighty-seven, that would be a year, ninete…eighty-four, nineteen eighty-four.”


With thanks to Wikipedia for explanations re Amused to Death


. . .    The album’s artwork features a chimpanzee watching television in reference to Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey.[3] The image on the TV is a gigantic eyeball staring at the viewer.[3] According to Waters, the ape was “a symbol for anyone who’s been sitting with his mouth open in front of the network and cable news for the last 10 years.”[2] The album’s title was inspired by Neil Postman‘s book Amusing Ourselves to Death.[3] The album is organised loosely around the idea of an ape randomly switching channels on a television,[4] but explores numerous political and social themes, including critiques of the First Gulf War in “The Bravery of Being Out of Range” and “Perfect Sense”.

The first song, “The Ballad of Bill Hubbard”, features a sample of World War I veteran Alfred “Raz” Razzell, a member of the Royal Fusiliers (much like Waters’ father Eric Fletcher Waters had been in World War II) who describes his account of finding fellow soldier William “Bill” Hubbard, to whom the album is dedicated, severely wounded on the battlefield. After failed attempts to take him to safety, Razzell is forced to abandon him in no-man’s land. This sample is continued at the end of the title track, at the very end of the album, providing a more upbeat coda to the tragic story. The track also features the sound of several animals.[4] The second song, “What God Wants, Part I“, follows and contrasts the moving words of Razzell by opening with the TV being tuned instead into an excerpt that sounds like it’s taken from a vox pop of a child who says, “I don’t mind about the war. That’s one of the things I like to watch – if it’s a war going on. ‘Cos then I know if, um, our side’s winning, if our side’s losing…” he is then interrupted by the channel change and a burst of ape-chatter.

“Perfect Sense” is a two-part song about a world where live transmissions of wars are the main form of entertainment.[2] The first part of the song begins with a loud, unintelligible rant, and then a backwards message voiced by Waters: “Julia, however, in the light and visions of the issues of Stanley, we changed our minds. We have decided to include a backward message. Stanley, for you, and for all the other book burners.” The message climaxes with Waters yelling in the aggressive Scottish voice he used to depict the character of the teacher in The Wall. In the second part, famed sportscaster Marv Albert narrates a war as if it were a basketball game.

“The Bravery of Being Out of Range” includes a reference to a song written by Waters on Pink Floyd‘s 1977 album Animals, “Sheep” (not to mention the spiritual “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot[5]).  (In “Sheep“, Waters sings “I’ve looked over Jordan and I have seen / Things are not what they seem”; in “The Bravery of Being Out of Range”, he sings “I looked over Jordan and what did I see / I saw a U.S. Marine in a pile of debris”.)

“Late Home Tonight, Part I” recalls the 1986 US air strike against Libya from the perspective of two “ordinary wives” and a young American F-111 pilot.

At the beginning of “What God Wants, Part II”, Charles Fleischer (better known as the voice of Roger Rabbit) performs the greedy evangelist’s sermon. . . .

The song “Watching TV” (a duet with Don Henley) explores the influence of mass media on the Chinese protests for democracy in Tiananmen Square.


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