People watching television

“…if there was ever an invention nobody needed, Langley said. By then we had another couple of TVs that he had found somewhere. None of them had worked to his satisfaction.

When you read or listen to the radio, he said, you see the scene in your mind. It’s like you with life, Homer. Infinite perspective, endless horizons. But the TV screen flattens everything, it compresses the world, to say nothing of one’s mind. If I watch any more I’d might as well take a boat down the Amazon and have my head shrunken by the Jivaro.

Who are the Jivaro?

They are this jungle tribe that likes to shrink heads. It’s their custom.

Where did you hear that?

Read it somewhere. After you decapitate the guy you make a slit from top of the head down the back of the neck and then peel the whole thing off the skull – neck, scalp, and face. Sew it into a pouch, stitch up eyelids and lips, fill it with stones, and boil the damn thing down till it’s the size of a baseball.

What does one do with a shrunken head?

Hang it by a hair along with the others. Tiny human heads in a row swinging gently in the breeze.

Good Lord.

Yes. Think of the American people watching television. …”

– E. L. Doctorow, Homer and Langley


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