When my second, my replacement, HD converter box died last week (older tv, no cable) I needed time to decide what my best choice might be. Yet another short-lived box or an HD-enabled small, flat-screen tv? Either seemed frivolous, for now. Meanwhile, I'm watching for the second time, as the signal-bereft set does act as a monitor, season one of FRINGE. In the first season, we have not yet been shown the East River vortex, which scares the bejeezus out of me every time I see it. Whirlpools and watery vortexes do that.
My son tells me of fan sites and message boards for the programs we enjoy, or did enjoy before they were cancelled, of just how wrapped up in and dogmatic about the invention viewers become. Between FRINGE, current and earlier, and Hulu's access to the newest JUSTIFIED, I've been reminded why I generally lean toward fiction. Perhaps more so now as I find myself saying, "I don't know," twenty or more times a day in response to everything. Everything.
My states of unknowingness may likely remain that way; there aren't answers to questions I ask. Is Steven Hawking right and will mankind only survive by colonizing space and is the most remote possibility of that more than 100 years away? Will there ever be anything resembling harmony between our political parties again? Did Congress really pass a bill that allows the government to detain without charges or explanation - and in an undisclosed location - anyone who fits any profile of what may constitute a terrorist? When did a quart of brand-name ice cream start to cost more than $10.00? When did access to a computer begin to equate with the likelihood of becoming a best-selling author? Why are we being told relentlessly that we need coaches for everything from what to wear to, especially, how to promote ourselves and all the things we are supposed to be trying to sell?
In fiction, someone who knows their craft ties up the loose ends. Someone - or in the case of tv, a team of them - knows how things turn out. They reveal to us, an episode or a scene at a time, why or who.
It is not that I need answers to all my questions to feel comfortable. I believe that much of life is intended to be a mystery, but come on. I can tell the difference between an existential unknown and deliberate misdirection, intentional lies. For now, the unsettling FRINGE universes seem less baffling than my own.