Daily Riches: That Extremely Soothing Media Narrative (David Foster Wallace, David Lipsky, Seán Dunne and Jerry Stittser)

“We were making jokes about Love Boat and Baywatch and these really, really commercial, really reductive shows that we so love to sneer at [and] are also tremendously compelling because the predictability in popular art, the really formulaic stuff, is so profoundly soothing. It gives you a sense of order, that everything’s going to be alright. That this is a narrative that will take care of you and won’t in any way challenge you. It’s like being wrapped in a shammy blanket and nestled against a big generous [breast].” (Wallace) “He goes on to say that despite the comforts of popular culture, serious art eventually will out. …he seemed to swing precipitously between two poles.” (Gladstone) “…[on the other hand media like] NPR will require something of you. It will require that you engage …that you think about your opinion, it will require you to change your opinion. Whereas the other stuff, it allows you to relax. And what he was saying is, you have to do both.” (Lipsky) – David Lipsky discussing his interviews of David Foster Wallace with Brooke Gladstone

“The guesthouse had no television or radio. There seemed little to do except go to bed, yet I felt eager for distraction. I began to wonder exactly what I was doing in such a place [the monastery at Mount Melleray]. I was unable to sleep and lay awake listening to the fountain, bemused at myself for the absurdity of my attraction towards silence and my inability to practice it. I wanted to be distracted from the questions that rose in me like troublesome yeast.”  Seán Dunne

“Many people form addictions after they experience loss…. So they watch television every moment they can…. In so doing, they hold suffering at a distance. …They dodge pain rather than confront it. But their unwillingness to face pain comes at a price. Ultimately it diminishes the capacity of their souls to grow bigger in response to pain…. In the end denial leads to a greater loss.”  Jerry Stittser

“Blessed are those who mourn
for they shall be comforted.”
Matthew 5:4

 Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • Does your media consumption have a soothing effect on you? …preventing you from having to examine or change your opinions?
  • Is your media a “big shammy blanket” wrapping you in comfort so you can “dodge pain?” …distracting you from “questions that rise in you like troublesome yeast?”
  • How can you face pain in your life rather than avoiding it?

God of all comfort, comfort us.


These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek God and he seeks you. I hope you’ll follow and share my blog. My goal is to share something of unique value with you daily in 400 words or less. Thanks!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

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