Monday, April 05, 2010

The New Yorker: "The TV" by Ben Loory


Huh? So the man (who has no name, which means he’s “everyman” I suppose) plays hooky from work and watches TV, but realizes that he’s watching himself. When he returns to work, he sees that his TV self has done more work than his real self usually does. And it turns out on other channels his other self is a surgeon, an undercover agent, etc. Eventually “the man” decides to stop watching TV and throw it away, but on his way down stairs he runs into himself bringing the TV back, and those two run into another and . . . it’s like looking into a mirror with a mirror. There are too many of him to keep track of. He’s not going to work, he sobs uncontrollably, and he’s got the TV plug in his hand. Huh?
This story reminds me of The Knocking from a few weeks ago—the language is interesting, the twists are compelling, but what’s it all mean? Are we meant to think that some of what “the man” is watching on screen is real? Or that some of it represents his ambition? Or fantasy? Did he really want to be a surgeon? Does he dream of closing big deals? Did he lose his wife? Is he sobbing uncontrollably because he’s stuck in his dead-end job with no way out except his fantasies?
Perhaps. Comments?
April 12, 2010: “The TV” by Ben Loory

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

I think the story's objective is to do what the commentator just did...ask questions and inquire as to why the man is watching himself on t.v. or if his other self is his true self, or if he wishes he were someone else and it so happens that is gets manifested into a t.v. show. I think the story was beautifully written, intriguing, and very creative.

Anonymous said...

I am pretty sure Mr. Loory is commenting on the grip that TV has on all of us. The familiar or un familiar situations we encounter appeal to us. Maybe it is because we can relate through personal experience, or we can relate because it’s a life we have, or a life we can see ourselves in, or it’s a life we want, or a life we are afraid we have. I agree that the knocking was not one of my favorite stories, but I understand and appreciate what Mr. Looney is doing.


Micah

Anonymous said...

Kind of a trite topice. The Truman Show. Reality TV proliferation, etc, etc. Lovely style, though, and just long enough. 3500 words is perfect length for conveying this.

Anonymous said...

it is a statement on modern ennui, on our inability to live meaningful lives, our need for voyeurism, for heroes....and also on coming unwound as a human with so much stimulus hitting us in modern times....about psychic pollution coming from contact with so many potential realities....