Three songs for paper, film and video

The detective novel is the only novel truly invented in the twentieth century. In the detective novel, the hero is dead at the very beginning. So you don’t have to deal with human nature at all. Only the slow accumulation of facts … of data …

In science fiction, the hero just flies in at the very beginning. He can bend steel with his bare hands. He can walk in zero gravity. He can see right through lead doors. But no one asks how he is able to do these things. They just say, “Look! He’s walking in zero gravity.” So you don’t have to deal with human nature at all.

When TV signals are sent out, they don’t stop. They keep going. They pick up speed as they leave the solar system. By now, the first TV programs ever made have been traveling for thirty years. They are well beyond our solar system now. All those characters from cowboy serials, variety hours and quiz shows are sailing out. They are the first true voyagers into deep space. And they sail farther and farther our, intact, still talking.

And as we listen with our instruments, as we learn to listen farther and farther into space, we can hear them. We listen farther and that is all we hear. They are jamming our lines. We listen and we hear them talking, traveling, going faster and faster … getting fainter and fainter. And as our instruments become more sophisticated, we can hear them better …. speeding away … the sound of speeding away … like a phone continuously ringing.

Laurie Anderson, Three Songs for Paper, Film, and Video. United States Live (1984)

I was listening to this on vinyl just after completing the previous post. Shame I couldn’t have incorporated it.