This is News?

Old, breaking, fake. Who really gives a shit? This entire « fake news » episode shouldn’t be news at all. It’s been going on for as long as people have been able to talk to one another. Was it news that the Earth was round, that it wasn’t the center of the Universe ? I suppose you could argue that yes, that was news, if only to upset Religion’s institutional monopoly on power. But then again, did that news really affect Religion’s power monopoly ? Not really.

We’re still living with the old idea of hierarchy, of verticalness or verticality or whatever you want to call it just because we wander around on two legs instead of four. Although with everyone wandering around looking at their super phones, one might wonder if we’re not somehow reverting, in some perverted way, to our previous condition.

Instead of checking out the sunrise or sunset or the direction and strength of the wind, it seems like a lot of people prefer to check out their social media accounts, a kind of virtual mirror, before they even get out of bed, in order to order their days.

Our neighbors across the road in this hamlet fenced off their property a few years ago. I was amazed at the accuracy and care with which Jean-Charles cemented in his angle iron stakes and stretched his squared wire fencing. Before he did that, his two black labs used to wander in and out of our house whenever they wanted, tails wagging, greeting us with little squeals of contentment, politely but determinedly sniffing out the kitchen, and we would share before dinner aperitifs and talk weather, gardens, house repairs, and politics. And even though we came from diametrically opposed political camps, we found we had a lot in common. And that was encouraging.

But since he inaugurated his own little enclosure act and purchased a German shepherd trained as an attack dog who has convinced his other two dogs that their new job is to bark at whatever moves outside their prison, we have had little contact, that being reduced to a non-committal hand wave here and there.

And so a source of real news, of what our neighbors think or hope for or regret or disagree with has been destroyed. Their dogs, once free to roam, have become schizophrenic and mean-spirited. A small part of the heart of a hamlet has disappeared.

We do enjoy, however, the visits from another neighbor’s cat, Grisou, who visits regularly, seems to like our leftovers (especially anything with tomato sauce) and makes himself at home in whatever chair is closest to the woodstove. And there are always our permanent residents : the barn owl, the bats, the hedgehog, the lizards, and all the other animals and insects with whom we share this place. Their movements and habits are always a source of news for us.

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