Bjork Explaining Television Is Everything You'd Imagine Bjork Explaining Television to Be

"This is what an Icelandic poet told me. And I became so scared to television that I always got headaches when I watched it. Then, later on, when I got my Danish book on television, I stopped being afraid because I read the truth, the scientifical truth and it was much better."
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Björk. 

Ethereal, tiny, quixotic, Icelandic Björk. 

At some point in the past, someone stuck a camera in front of her face and told her to explain television. She does, sort of,  referring to the circuit board as a kind of city, describing the almost-reasonable theory of an Icelandic poet, and concluding that a "Danish book" contained the scientifical truth that let her enjoy TV again. 

Look, you just have to watch it. It's transcendent.

Hello. It is Christmas time and I am sitting here by my TV. I've been watching it very much lately because I'm on holiday. And I've been seeing all these programs about all sorts of things. About Icelandics being very happy about Christmas, very gay, and also very serious and spiritual. And also seeing Icelandic comic people making jokes. Which they are very good at. 

But now I'm curious. I've switched the TV off and now I want to see how it operates. How it can make, put me into all those weird situations. So... It's about time. 

This is what it looks like. Look at this. This looks like a city. Like a little model of a city. The houses, which are here, and streets. This is maybe an elevator to go up there. And here are all the wires. These wires, they really take care of all the electrons when they come through there. They take care that they are powerful enough to get all the way through to here. I read that in a Danish book. This morning. 

This beautiful television has put me, like I said before, in all sorts of situations. I remember being very scared because an Icelandic poet told me that not like in cinemas, where the thing that throws the picture from it just sends light on the screen, but this is different. This is millions and millions of little screens that send light, some sort of electric light, I'm not really sure. But because there are so many of them, and in fact you are watching very many things when you are watching TV. Your head is very busy all the time to calculate and put it all together into one picture. And then because you're so busy doing that, you don't watch very carefully what the program you are watching is really about. So you become hypnotized. So all that's on TV, it just goes directly into your brain and you stop judging it's right or not. 

You just swallow and swallow. This is what an Icelandic poet told me. And I became so scared to television that I always got headaches when I watched it. Then, later on, when I got my Danish book on television, I stopped being afraid because I read the truth, the scientifical truth and it was much better.

You shouldn't let poets lie to you.

The strange thing is, all those tiny dots are ... real. They're the phosphors that create a color picture on a screen. Fire an electron beam at some of them and you get red. Others, and you get blue or green. Together, the tiny RGB dots form the picture you see. That is the scientifical truth. 

Although I sort of prefer Björk's half-theory that there is a city inside televisions that produces the programs, that we gaze down on the miniature doings of the residents of TVland, projected to us like a photomosaic, the individual doings of all those tiny people somehow combining in our minds into Everybody Loves Raymond

You shouldn't let poets lie to you. Technology is magic. 

Via Douglas Wolk

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Alexis C. Madrigal

Alexis Madrigal is the deputy editor of TheAtlantic.com, where he also oversees the Technology Channel. He's the author of Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology. More

The New York Observer has called Madrigal "for all intents and purposes, the perfect modern reporter." He co-founded Longshot magazine, a high-speed media experiment that garnered attention from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the BBC. While at Wired.com, he built Wired Science into one of the most popular blogs in the world. The site was nominated for best magazine blog by the MPA and best science Web site in the 2009 Webby Awards. He also co-founded Haiti ReWired, a groundbreaking community dedicated to the discussion of technology, infrastructure, and the future of Haiti.

He's spoken at Stanford, CalTech, Berkeley, SXSW, E3, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and his writing was anthologized in Best Technology Writing 2010 (Yale University Press).

Madrigal is a visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley's Office for the History of Science and Technology. Born in Mexico City, he grew up in the exurbs north of Portland, Oregon, and now lives in Oakland.

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