All posts by Ryan Blanck

Infinite Winter Church Camp, Part II

To quote the late, great Chick Hearn, “This [group read]’s in the refrigerator: the door is closed, the lights are off, the eggs are cooling, the butter’s getting hard, and the Jell-O’s jigglin’!”

One of my students painted this for me. See, it's the personal connections that result in gifts like this that made this experience worthwhile.
One of my students painted this for me. See, it’s the personal connections that result in gifts like this that made this experience worthwhile.

Last week, I likened my experience over the last thirteen weeks to spending a weekend at church camp. And to be honest, I did not expect it to be like this. I mean, my responses to Wallace’s writing is often deeply personal, but I typically don’t talk or write about them publicly, especially not to this large of an audience. But somehow, in the safe company of several hundred of my closest friends, I found the nerve to open up and share some deeply personal things, like one might do during the open-mic sharing time done on the last night at church camp.

I don’t think it’s been that I have learned all these things about myself. But rather, I came to accept these things; I became more comfortable in my own skin and a little less worried about what others might think. I don’t remember the context – and I’m too lazy to go look it up – but the titular line in Lipsky’s book became true for me. I ended up becoming myself.

But just as meaningful is the friendships this has created and strengthened. My fellow guides have been awesome to collaborate with; I can’t imagine a better team. But it’s gone beyond the six of us. Infinite Winter has permeated my other relationships. I’ve engaged in conversations with coworkers about IJ. I’ve convinced several current and former students to attempt to read the book. I even shared the Eschaton scene with my senior English classes, and some of them actually enjoyed it.

It is this that kept me going, even though I dropped off the reading schedule weeks ago.

So thanks, Dave (Wallace, not Laird), for this gift of Infinite Jest. A novel that begs to be read in groups. A novel that forges relationships and bonds like no other book I know. A novel that gives us space to look deeply into ourselves and the safety to share what we find with others.

Thanks, Dave, for a thousand-page church camp.

Infinite Winter Church Camp, Part 1

Reading through IJ again has, in some ways, been like going away to church camp for a weekend (a VERY LONG weekend). At church camp, you bond with your friends in ways that just doesn’t happen back at home. There’s something about spending every moment – both waking and sleeping – with a group of people that creates wonderful memories and strengthens wonderful friendships.

But also at church camp, you also learn things about yourself and grow deeper in your faith. There’s something about the crisp mountain air and high-carb camp food that brings a certain enlightenment not is not available to us at home.

And but so I feel that this analogy describes much of my experience over these past thirteen weeks.  Bonding with friends from near and far, and learning things about myself and my faith that I might not have otherwise. All that’s been lacking has been roasting marshmallows over a campfire while singing camp songs.

I’ll expand more on these thoughts next week, but for this week I wanted to share some of my LEGO images that have not yet been shared in my posts. So without further ado, a little shameless self-promotion:

Lyle (played by Santa Yoda) in the ETA locker room
Lyle (played by Santa Yoda) in the ETA locker room
Don Gately visited by the Wraith
Don Gately visited by the Wraith
Madame Psychosis records her radio show
Madame Psychosis records her radio show
Orin Incandenza parachutes into the football stadium
Orin Incandenza parachutes into the football stadium
Hal discovers that JOI has eliminated his own map
Hal discovers that JOI has eliminated his own map

You can buy the book here (and please do, Mama needs a new pair of shoes).

In the Recliner

InfWin Guide here. I got into this thing knowing that I had no business being here. I tried to hang in there, but have fallen embarrassingly behind in the reading. Now, I am grasping at straws (at least there are lots of straws) to produce something thoughtful and meaningful for each week’s blog post. So this week, I’m gonna pull one out of the pomo-meta hat and reflect a bit on this experience.

Image 48 EntertainmentI’ve begun to feel like the Middle Eastern medical attache. I – in a metaphorical sense – came home after a long day at work, popped in this unlabeled video cartridge, and sat back in my La-Z-Boy recliner to enjoy an evening of mindless entertainment. Except that the video cartridge is actually the novel, Infinite Jest, I have no recliner at home, and reading said novel is anything but mindless entertainment.

But I was greatly looking forward to the experience of reading Infinite Jest again, this time with hundreds of my closest friends.

Image 49 EntertainmentBut somewhere around week 5, I began to lose my way. And by lose my way, I mean that I got pulled in too many directions by all my various jobs and responsibilities, and but so my well-worn and well-loved copy of Infinite Jest found itself sitting on my end table or going for rides in my car, tucked away in my backpack with my laptop and my lunch box. The novel became like my tote bag of grading; I take it with me everywhere with the intention of doing some reading/grading, but it just sits in the back of my car or the corner of the living room.

Image 50 EntertainmentIt became like that unlabeled video cartridge sitting in the medical attache’s video cartridge player, set to play on an endless loop. Except that it wasn’t being played – or read – on an endless loop. It just sits there. Untouched and unread.

For weeks, I’ve been telling myself to just give up. Throw in the towel. Call it quits. Just tell Mark and the others that I can’t finish and that they need to find someone to pinch hit for me in these last three posts.

But I can’t do that. I can’t do that because I am a man of my word and I keep my commitments.

Image 51 EntertainmentAnd I can’t do that because I am in the metaphorical recliner. I sucked in. I can’t stop reading this damn book.

Image 52 EntertainmentJust pass me a napkin in case I start drooling on myself.

WWDGD: What Would Don Gately Do?

I have been a Christian all my life. I formalized my commitment to my faith as a high school sophomore, but I can’t remember a time  – ever – that my faith was not a part of my life. That being said, aside from maybe CS Lewis and Tolkien, I am not really a fan of Christian fiction. As a writer and literature teacher, I have a hard time with the general lack of artistic quality. But as a Christian, I have trouble with the oversimplification of life’s problems and the seemingly easy solutions that one’s faith and one’s God offer in these stories. A simple prayer and a little faith is all it takes.

Which is one of the reasons I love Wallace’s fiction so much. His fiction – or at least a lot of it – is some of the most “Christian” writing I have ever read. He gives the most honest portrayal of Christianity anywhere. He writes about real people dealing with real issues and struggles, trying to figure out how God fits into the mess they have made for themselves.

DSCN3726Even though he is kind of a schmuck, I really appreciate Wallace’s treatment of Lane Dean, Jr.’s internal struggles over Sherry’s pregnancy. In Claudius-like fashion, he prays for reprieve, not repentance. He wants to do what is right, but doesn’t want to admit his wrongs. The jumbled prose, the internal wrestling… it’s all so… real.

And then Don Gately and his forced prayers to a God he does not even believe in. This “God as He Understood Him,” upon Whom Don Gately’s success or failure in recovery lie. Don is forced to depend on something he doesn’t understand and doesn’t really even believe in to keep himself clean and sober.

I love Gene M.’s f-bomb-riddled analogy of the cake mix:

“… just imagine for a second that he’s holding a box of Betty Crocker Cake Mix, which represented Boston AA. The box came with directions on the side any eight-year-old could read… Gene M. said all Gately had to do was for fuck’s sake give himself a break and relax and for once shut up and just follow the directions on the side of the fucking box. It didn’t matter one fuckola whether Gately like believed a cake would result, or whether he understood the like fucking baking-chemistry of how a cake would result: if he just followed the motherfucking directions, and had sense enough to get help from slightly more experienced bakers to keep from fucking the directions up if he got confused somehow, but basically the point was if followed the childish directions, a cake would result. He’d have his cake.”

How much of our lives – whether we are religious or not – is based on that childlike faith that we will get our cake in the end? I don’t know the “fucking baking-chemistry” of how cake batter turns into a delicious cake when placed in the oven for 25 minutes at 350 degrees. I just know that it does. I don’t know how or why an internal combustion engine works, but I know that it does work and that the one under the hood of my 2004 Honda Civic will get me to and from work each day. I have faith that these things will work and, most of the time, they do.

Image 82 Don Gately PraysAnd for Don G. and his cravings for drugs, this act of getting down on his hulking knees and pretending to fumble around for his shoes and keys while praying to this God of His Own Making worked. After several weeks of this, the cravings begin to subside. And after a few months, he begins to forget that he’s not having cravings anymore. “He couldn’t for the goddamn life of him understand how this thing worked, this thing that was working. It drove him bats.”

Then later:

“Gately’s complaint that there was no way something he didn’t understand enough to even start to believe in was seriously going to be interested in helping save his ass, even if He/She/It did in some sense exist. Gately still doesn’t quite know why it helped, but somehow it helped when Ferocious Francis suggested that maybe anything minor-league enough for Don Gately to understand probably wasn’t going to be major-league enough to save Gately’s addled ass from the well-dressed Sergeant at Arms, now, was it?”

And that, in my experience, is the beauty of faith. I consider myself to be a “recovering evangelical.” I grew up in a church and denomination that prided itself on knowing and understanding the Bible. Any question you may have, they had a nicely packaged three-point sermon or acronym to answer it. Everything was easily explainable.

While this upbringing provided an important foundation for my faith, as I grew older, I realized that life is a lot more complicated and these pre-packaged answers didn’t always work. Questions and doubts crept in, but rather than dismantling my faith, they strengthened it. I embraced the mystery and the uncertainty and the ambiguity. Like the father of the demon-possessed boy in the Gospel of Mark, my prayer became, “I believe, but help me overcome my unbelief.”

I have come to realize that I don’t have to understand the nuances and complexities of theology. I don’t have to reconcile every apparent contradiction. My faith is not based on my knowledge or understanding. Like Don Gately, I need something bigger than my minor-league understanding to save my ass. I need a major-league-sized God, one bigger than my ability to comprehend.

So, thank you, Dave, for creating Don Gately to give a voice to my own struggles in faith.

Don Gately is my Soulmate, but I’m Going to Write about Randy Lenz Again

As I continue to crawl through the pages of Infinite Jest, I feel an ever-deepening connection with Mr. Don Gately. I wouldn’t call it a man-crush or anything like that, but I admire his discipline and his brutal honesty. I think that if I lived in the world of Harry Potter, my patronus would be an enormous square-headed man with prison tattoos.

Image 82 Don Gately Prays
Don Gately prays to “some kind of Higher Power he didn’t even believe in”

There is much I’d like to write about Don G., but I will have to save that for another post. It would take more time than I currently have and probably get far more personal than I am comfortable getting. So, perhaps another time.

Image 79 Randy LenzI jumped on the Randy Lenz bandwagon a few weeks ago, but only just today read those pages. While I did once again cringe everytime I read the word “There,” there was something else that caught my attention. As I’ve been reading and annotating my copy of IJ, I tend to circle words that I either find fascinating or that I have not heard/read before. I noticed, as I read about Randy Lenz, that I was circling a lot more words than normal. For some reason, these pages had a higher density of fascinating/unknown words.

So, I enumerate those words here:

Mongo (n): literal – a monetary unit of Mongolia; in context – really big

Panoply (n): a complete or impressive collection of things

Eurotrochaic (adj): no literal definition; in context – describing the alternating two-note sound of a European emergency siren

Diverticulitis (n): inflammation of a diverticulum, especially in the colon, causing pain and disturbance of bowel function

Bonerfied (adj): no literal definition, but is the name of an AC/DC cover band; in context – to arouse or experience great excitement

Melony (adj): resembling a melon, melon-like

Gasper (n): no literal definition; in context – a cigarette

Scopophobic (adj): a morbid fear of being seen or stared at by others

Windbagathon (adj): no literal definition; in context – long-winded and marathon in duration

Schizoid (adj): characterized by emotional aloofness and solitary habits

Tattlemount (n): no literal definition; in context – appears to be a blending of “tattle” and “tantamount”

Hemispasm (n): a spasm that affects only one side of the body

Insousistent (adj): showing a casual lack of concern

Blatting (v): making a bleating sound

Crepuscular (adj): resembling or relating to twilight

Threnody (n): a lament

Purposive (adj): having,serving, or done with a purpose

Sangfroid (n): sometimes excessive composure or coolness, especially in difficult circumstances

Phosphenes (n): a ring or spot of light produced by pressure on the eyeball

Confabulating (v): having a memory disturbance produced by a fabricated or distorted memory

Microspic (adj): visible only with a microscope; a misuse or misspelling of “microscopic”

Cableyarrow (n): no literal definition; a misspelling of “caballero,” which is Spanish for “gentleman”

Kamasupra (n): no literal definition, but is the title of a song by Radiohead; a misuse or misspelling of “karma sutra”

Stelliform (adj): star-shaped

“What the F*** is Water?”

Confession: I am 211 pages behind the herd. And this is after spending several hours this week trying desperately to catch up. But here I am, determined to keep plugging away and determined to finish.

But anyway.

In the Kenyon speech, Wallace talks about the “day in, day out” of adult life. The unglamorous, unsexy parts that no one talks about, much less writes about in a novel. And yet, these are the things that occupy much of our attention and time as adults. As Wallace puts it on page 451, “It’s all the sort of thing that’s uninteresting unless you’re the one responsible.” For Charles Tavis, and James O. Incandenza before him, that uninteresting stuff was the day-to-day operation of an elite tennis academy. For the rest of us, it’s doing dishes or driving to work or paying the bills or… All of it boring as the day is long, but all of it incredibly necessary.  And, if we allow it to be, incredibly meaningful.

I played basketball (and I use the word “played” in the loosest of terms) during my freshman, sophomore, and senior years (I sat out my junior year for personal reasons). My senior season, the only time we could get a gym for practice (I went to a small private school that did not have its own gym) was at 5:30am at the YMCA. Every morning, two-and-a-half hours of basketball drills before racing home to shower and make it to first period by 8:30am. So I understand the agony of those ETA students dragging themselves out of their warm beds for morning drills (pages 452-461).

Image 33 Tennis MatchesBut I also understand the importance of that sort of disciplined regiment. All those 5:30am practices paid off to the tune of one of the best seasons in school history. Undefeated in league and CIF playoff semifinalists.

So I understand these ten pages in the context of the lives of the ETA students and their pursuit of fortune and glory on the tennis court. But in the context of a 1000+ page novel… yeah, not so much. What the hell, Dave (again, Wallace not Laird)?

But then I was taken back like six pages to Bob Death telling Don Gately a slightly more adult version of the “wise older fish” story (the younger fish drops an f-bomb), which then took me back to the Kenyon speech and all that mindfulness stuff. The whole point being that even the most mundane activities can have deeply profound meaning, if we’re only patient enough and attentive enough to take notice.

So what do these ten pages of detailed description of morning tennis drills mean? To be honest (and this has certainly turned into the forum for honesty for me), I have no idea. I skimmed those pages. I am more an Ennet House guy, at least on this reading of IJ, so I really dug into Don Gately’s backstory.

But my point is that there is something of meaning and significance in anything and everything. Whether it is participating in morning tennis drills, or simply reading about it. We just have to keep reminding ourselves:


Abused Cats and Dead Extra-Terrestrials

On a somewhat tangential note – but one that I hope to bring around to the topic of Randy Lenz – today is my last day of school before Spring Break, a vacation that is well-deserved and much-anticipated. And a break during which I intend to catch up on my IJ reading.

In my Film class, we are currently watching E.T. I had hoped earlier in the week that there would be enough time in class today to finish the film (I even cut out the traditional “Fun Video Friday” to make sure there was time). But we all know how that Robert Burns poem goes.

So throughout class, I am watching the film and watching the clock, and quickly realizing that we are not going to finish the film. But as we inched closer to the bell ringing at 10:50, I begin to to make a horrifying realization. We are going to end this film right when E.T. dies. And sure enough, there’s poor little Gertie with tears streaming down her face, convulsing as the scientists try to zap E.T. back to life with the electric paddles. One of the most heart-wrenching scenes not just in this film, but in all of American cinema. And that is the last image these kids have etched in their brains as they head off to Spring Break.

ET-1776And I realize as I walk to me next class that I am a horrible person. Not like Randy Lenz horrible, but you gotta admit that that’s a pretty crappy thing to do to a bunch of teenagers.

But then, in a feeble attempt to pacify my guilty conscience, I started to rationalize this atrocious mistake. It’s not like E.T. actually died. I mean, he’s only a puppet. And it’s not like little Drew Barrymore is actually crying. She’s acting. And doing a damn fine job of it in that scene. So even though that image will be etched in my brain forever, and it may take years of therapy, I can appease my own guilt knowing that no extra-terrestrials nor cute little girls were actually harmed in the making of that scene. They are no more than digital images projected onto a screen.

Now here is where I try to tie this in to Randy Lenz. Randy Lenz is a horrible person. In Dave’s post yesterday, he enumerated Randy’s transgressions, giving further tangible proof of just how horrible he is. He is just plain horrible.

But like E.T. and poor little Gertie, Randy is not real. In fact, he is less real than E.T. and Gertie. E.T. is a puppet-sort-of-thing, and Gertie is a character played by a real actress, so there is some sense of reality to them, a physical manifestation. But Randy is just words, just ink on a page. There is nothing real or physical or tangible about him.

Image 79 Randy LenzAnd yet, we are moved – some quite deeply – by those ink splatters on the pages. We are disgusted, horrified, appalled as we decode those ink splatters into actual text, and then interpret that text to give it meaning, and then respond emotively to the meaning given to text.

Our man, Saint Dave (Wallace, not Laird), once said, “Good literature’s job is to comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.” Last week I wrote about the comfort that I found in reading about the community formed in the Boston AA, and how I wished we had more safe places like that. And this week, I am understandably disturbed by the descriptions of Randy’s horrible abuse of these animals that unfortunately cross his path.

And yet, both of these extreme emotional responses come from mere ink on a page. No images. No heartbreaking performances by child actors. Just ink on a pages.

I guess that’s what makes it “good literature.”


I want to belong to Boston AA

My name is Ryan, and I am not an alcoholic. In fact, I’ve never even been drunk. No seriously. I felt a little tipsy after a particularly strong margarita once. But too much alcohol gives me migraines, so I purposely stay well within my limits.

But, to be honest, I’m kind of a mess. I’m slightly overweight and really out of shape, and it’s very difficult for me to get back in shape because of residual damage done to my lungs when I had pneumonia as a child. I have sleep apnea, so it’s physically impossible for me to get a truly good night’s sleep.  And then there are all my food allergies. None are very severe, but are enough to make ordering dinner at a restaurant rather tricky.

And not to mention all my psychological and emotional issues. I have general anxiety and panic disorders, which means that I spend way too much time and energy overanalyzing everything, and then have moments where I just want to hide under my desk until the latest fight-or-flight rush subsides.

I’m a mess. But when people find out about my anxiety issues, they are often surprised. I tell them, jokingly but not really jokingly, that I’m on good medication and have a good therapist. Both these things are true, but I’ve just become very good at masking it.

Image 46 Hal at AA MeetingBut in a place like Boston AA, I would not have to mask my feelings of panic and anxiety. I wouldn’t have to make jokes to keep myself from exploding internally. I wouldn’t have to reserve the truth for frantic text messages or emails to a few close, understanding friends.

Because Boston AA is a place that is safe. It’s safe to be real. It’s safe to be honest. It’s safe to be screwed up because everyone there is a little (or a lot) screwed up. See, “no one ever Comes In because things are going really well and they just wanted to round out their P.M. calendar.” People Come In because they are at the end of their ropes and need a safe place just to be.

Image 85 AA MeetingWe need more places like this. Places where those hiding secret pains or anxieties or struggles don’t have to hide them anymore. Places where people like Don Gately, Ken Erdedy, Joelle Van Dyne, and Poor Tony Krause can feel accepted. But also somewhere that I can feel accepted.

Because it’s hard to walk around being normal all the time. It’s hard to mask the anxiety (and believe me, mine is pretty minor compared to some others that I know of. I can’t even imagine the effort that goes into masking their troubles and struggles). It’s like what Meredith Rand’s (from The Pale King) soon-to-be husband says: It’s a lot easier for those with physical illnesses and injuries to be honest about them and to get help because you can see the physical evidence of their troubles; you can’t very well hide a broken arm or sprained ankle. Not so much for those with emotional illnesses and injuries. There is no physical evidence, so it’s harder for others to understand, but easier for the sufferer to hide. But that hiding and masking, after awhile, begin to take their toll.

So I wish we had more places like Boston AA. Places where the seemingly normal among us are allowed to be not normal. Places that are safe and free of judgment. Places where we can just be.

My Obligatory Post on Eschaton, a Topic on Which Much Has Been Said Already

So I had this great post all planned out. It was about Mario’s documentary on the formation of ONAN, the presidency of Johnny Gentle, and the connections to our current political cycle. It was going to be – in a word – bitchen.

Image 44 Mario MovieBut then I reread the “Infinite Winter Guides’ Rules and Regulations Governing the Protocols for Online Posts” (hereafter referred to as the IWGRARGTPFOP), and noticed in subsection 4, paragraph 2, line 17b that – and I quote – “All Guides shall, in the course of their reading and post-writing, write at least one, but no more than three, posts referring directly to the playing of Eschaton, as described in detail on pages 321-342 of the 2006 10th anniversary paperback edition of Infinite Jest. Posts about Eschaton should be reflective in nature, but also quasi-academic, or at the very least, intelligent and thoughtful.”

Ok, I made all that up. There is no IWGRARGTPFOP. There is no rule about posting about Eschaton. And there is no bitchen post that I’m not writing because of this. There is, however, a bit of unspoken peer pressure since (I think) all the other guides wrote about it. And I would probably be writer/scholar-shamed if I didn’t write about Eschaton. To paraphrase Robin Williams’ character in Dead Poets Society, “I would sit on the beach and people would kick copies of Signifying Rappers in my face.”

Image 39 EschatonOh, there is so much that could be said about Eschaton. The pure genius of the game itself. The seriousness with which these kids take the game. The Lord-of-the-Flies-esque quality that emerges when Ingersoll takes aim at Kittenplan, and Otis P. Lord ceremoniously starts spinning the propeller on the read beanie. The “conch” has been destroyed and all H-E-double-hockey-sticks has broken loose on the snow-covered tennis courts. Whether it is sticks and makeshift spears or deadened tennis balls that represent atomic warheads, any object can be turned into a weapon. And the depravity of the human heart will revel in the destruction that its host’s body can inflict on others.

Image 40 EschatonBut what really gets me is just how existential/postmodern/meta- the whole scene is, especially when questions arise in the whole map vs. territory debate. Is the snow part of the map, or part of the territory represented by the map? Is a player of the game part of the game or outside the game (again, back to the map vs. territory debate)? Is an attack on a player an attack on a territory represented on the map, or is it simply an act of violent hostility?

Image 41 EschatonLike the propeller atop Lord’s beanie, my head is now spinning. I’m right there with Hal, trying to make sense of what is unfolding on those tennis courts.

What I do know is that these are twenty of my favorite pages in all of literature. The “elegant complexity” in the writing. The humor. The detail and description. And a little meta-existential crisis thrown in for good measure.


A Failed Conference Presentation

This post is about fifteen years in the making… and even now, it’s still a work in progress.

I’m a high school teacher, and I started my career at a small parochial school teaching English and Religion courses. Every year I taught there, the faculty would attend a SoCal Christian educators conference; and at this conference one year, I attended a seminar on the topic of teens’ intake of entertainment media. I took the resources from this seminar back to my classroom and created a series of lesson plans on the topic. Those lessons eventually morphed into my first book, Engaging the Media.

Image 48 EntertainmentThis topic – our culture’s obsession with entertainment – is one that I’ve wrestled with and thought about for years, and is one that I was happy to see that Wallace wrestled with as well. Apparently, the working title David used while writing Infinite Jest was “A Failed Entertainment,” referring, in part, the the fatally addictive video cartridge produced by one James O Incandenza.

Image 52 EntertainmentAs I read the portion of the Marathe-Steeply conversation on 30 April (my daughter’s birthday, btw) YDAU, I was reminded of the paper I intended to present at the first annual David Foster Wallace conference. My working title for the as-of-yet-unwritten paper was “Fatal Distraction: How We’re Entertaining Ourselves to Death.” I intended to write about how our hyper-mediated culture is killing off important elements of our human experience.

But, as John Lennon sang, “life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.” Life got in the way, and I wasn’t able to write this paper in time for the conference two years ago. Instead, I approached the topic of addiction from another angle: my own addiction to prescription anti-anxiety medication (turns out it was the WRONG medication to be on) and the subsequent withdrawals I experienced coming off that medication and finally going on the right medication. You can read that paper here.

Anyway, I digress.

Image 53 Maranthe-SteeplyBack to Marathe and Steeply, casting their long shadows as the sun sets over Tuscon. Marathe, in talking about the Entertainment video cartridge, makes some intriguing points about America’s obsession with entertainment. And I quote:

“A USA that would die – and let its children die, each one – for the so-called perfect Entertainment, this film.”

“You cannot kill what is already dead… This appetite to choose death by pleasure if it is available to choose – this appetite of your people unable to choose appetites, this is the death. What you call the death, the collapsing: this will be the formality only… But you can only delay. Not save.”

These Greek chorus-like figures speak presciently of the death many Americans are dying. A death by pleasure. A death by mediated entertainment. A death of our own choosing. We don’t need some sinister plot by Quebecois separatists to bring about our demise. All we need is the screen on some device and the latest cat video or the newest version of Candy Crush. The world just passes us by as we “react” to whatever is on that screen.

This death seems inevitable. As Marathe says, “[We] can only delay. Not save.”