Alright, let me be clear (for once): I’m about to be really silly.
I wish I were a cartoonist. I really have no sensibility of any kind in the visual arts beyond a certain level of appreciation. That’s a euphemism for: this boy cain’t draw none.
So just imagine this, and you can draw it in your own mind, and maybe you’ll get the same laugh I did. Maybe.
Pretend that you’re floating up there in near-space, in geosynchronous orbit over the Atlantic Ocean. So you’re locked in tandem with the world as it’s spinning down there. And over to the left you can see North America and down there is South America and Australia barely in view around the bend; and then across the water is Europe and Africa and so on.
But over the United States there is a huge glass dome. Etched into the glass in letters you can just barely make out it says: “MASS MEDIA.” And you can see luminous, jagged rays of criticism arcing through the sky and bouncing off of this glass dome. They’re coming from South America, from Africa, from Asia; not so much from Europe, but a few; and they’re all just bouncing right off this glass dome and falling into the ocean. When they hit the water they make little sizzling sounds.
Now, coming into this dome, from across the wide Atlantic, there is a pipeline. And in big white capital letters it’s labeled: “OIL.” You can see the black goo rushing through the conveniently transparent pipeline, and then all the little factories and automobiles go and there’s plastic enough for everyone.
And coming out of this dome from the West, wrapping around the globe towards China, which you can’t see from your view, is another pipeline. It’s labeled “DEBT.” And just like in those vacuum tubes in the drive-through at your local bank, there’s tons and tons of cash absolutely flying down the pipeline and into banks in Shanghai. You can hear the vacuum motor if you try really hard—well, okay, no you can’t, because you’re in the vacuum of space yourself. Let’s move on.
Lastly, at the top of this dome, there’s a big smokestack. It says, right there on the side: “POLLUTION.” And so, of course, out of this pipe there comes great big globs of grey-brown smoke.
And let’s say you’re up there in orbit and you watch what’s going on for years and years, maybe happily snacking on spaceman ice cream the whole while. You notice the oil in the pipeline starting to thin a little, and the pollution from the smokestack is really beginning to dirty up the whole world. The deserts seem to be getting bigger and the forests are getting smaller. But what really is shocking is when you eventually notice something you hadn’t before: there are other little domes being erected all over the world. Goodness knows what’s going on over in the half of the world you can’t see. Instead of trying to stop this big AmeriDome from running so inefficiently and causing so much trouble, what you see is that everyone who can afford to is actually building a dome of their own.
I just thought that was a funny, silly little picture. It’s not an accurate depiction, by any means. And, no, that’s not really “how I see the world,” or at least that’s not all of it. But it would look mighty fine in the Wall Street Journal! Or in the Federal Budget, maybe as a frontispiece.