Saturday, June 24, 2006

You Can't Cut It Out of the TV

Those were words my father told me the better part of 50 years ago, instructing my brother and I how to sell newspapers, not that my dad was a salesman, as our mom was often to point out.

I'm reminded of Dad's infrequent words of instruction by a couple of events this past week. The first is a series of email exchanges with a lady, Kay D, who better remembers having baby-sat us as youngsters, now just more than 50 years ago. She had worked, as what we'd now call an intern, for that Appleton Press published by Martinis I and II. Back then, Dad was instructing her on the art of the obit. She relates that Dad's instructions were, "people die, they don't ''pass away''". I guess this recollection came back to her since it's still within a year of her mother's death..

But the proximate cause of my recalling those words, "you can't cut it out of the tv", was when I unfolded tomorrow's NYT Arts and Leisure section to the Television page. The lead article is about the show Numb3rs, and how David Krumholtz mastered the character, he being a little short in mathematics ability. Since I don't normally read the Arts and Leiser section, chalk this one up to serendipity, which I guess, is what Dad was talking about in compairing the newspaper and TV.

Television, a visual medium, offers the illusion of being two-dimensional. It's really only one. And not one of the familiar three dimensions, rather the fourth dimension: time. TV doesn't offer either the length or width of the screen, and certainly not the depth. Take for example Krumholtz' observation on his role: "I think it's more important that I learn who a mathematician is and how he sees the world than it is to actually learn the math.", a sentiment with which I completely agree. The point here is without the newspaper, I wouldn't have that insight into his personal muse. In it's current format, how does TV offer the equivalent of the DVD-accompanying "Director's Cuts" or special bits which give us the insight to what we are seeing? TV is likely to remain one-dimensional.

So, thank you, Dad, for offering that wisdom. And thank you, Kay, for recalling that prior time of great insight in this age of three or more dimensions, and importantly, that depth is measured in short phrases.

No comments: