Robert caught me unawares towards midnight, on my return from the Cinemark at Antelope Valley Mall where I had watched Benedict Cumberbatch as Hamlet (wonderful), courtesy of the British National Theater Live ("live" meaning pre-recorded before a living audience). You can imagine my preoccupied state after three hours of lines like,
My words fly up, my thoughts remain below: Words without thoughts never to heaven go.
Stumbling up the rock strewn path to my door, wondering if my words would go to heaven, I heard the distinctive clicking sound of Robert the Telepathic Gila Monster, whose talents and relative sociability have allowed me to make him famous. How much money have I made off Robert? Story of my life: none.
"Hey, Harry the Human, can I have your autograph?" he hissed from under the front steps, where he had apparently been awaiting my return.
"What's up, Robert?," I called down to the darkness in front of my feet, feigning, a bit, my joy at seeing him (he could be exhausting), "I just watched Shakespeare's Hamlet. Are you familiar with it?" Robert spends hours a day behind the Lancaster Public Library, telepathically scanning great quantities of human culture.
"I am indeed," replied Robert. "Shakespeare is unique, I find."
"I agree, but how do you find him unique?" I asked, suppressing a yawn and trying to be polite.
"As a gila monster I find all your artists unique, but Shakespeare is the only modern author to attach himself to power, I mean to actual powerful people."
"Like Elizabeth I and then James I."
"Yes. The remarkable thing is that these monarchs enjoyed the display of the chaotic interior of the ambitious mind, along with its propensity for self-destruction."
Robert was obviously in a talkative mood. "For a lizard you sure have a big vocabulary," I ventured, suddenly longing for the silence of my kitchen.
"If you were one inch long," Robert mused, "I would probably eat you."
I stood for a moment, looking up at the blazing full moon, supposedly a super-moon for being so close to the earth. Signs, always signs.
"Sorry, Robert, I'm tired."
"Well, I just wanted to inform you of an epiphany I had after several hours of listening to news programs." [Robert can telepathically tune-in to our broadcasts]
"What, that they're biased?"
"You are lacking a word, a word for ‘rule by media.’"
I considered this, and found that Robert was correct; we have no such word.
Robert continued, "To remedy this, I coined a new meaning for a refashioned old word, mediocre, to add to the existing terms for human hegemony that are suffixed with 'archy' and 'acy' (e.g. democracy, oligarchy, plutocracy, autocracy) and came up with 'mediacracy' for 'rule by media.' The modern use of ‘media’ did not exist when you invented the Greek and Latin terms for types of government, so you let the natural phonemic contender for rule by propaganda, 'mediocre,' get captured by its root 'medius,' meaning 'middle,' as in 'people who are dull and stupid because they are in the exact middle of human qualities,' which, when you think about it, is a sad commentary on your species."
I was not in the mood: "Robert, I'm going to enter my house now and think about Hamlet. Your new word is interesting, perhaps tomorrow...."
"You hominid dope! I'm telling you that this lack of word is affecting your political discourse."
Letting off a deep sigh, "Ok...how is that?"
"Your entire window on government is provided only by your media. Unless you travel to Washington and take a guided tour of Congress, the Supreme Court and the White House, you can't see by yourself what you're voting for."
"Harry, you only see and hear what the media offers you, with the words they offer. People are furious with government for being a plutocracy, an oligarchy, an autocracy. That's what you learn from the media, but it's pretty clear that people are fuming at the media as much as at government, though that is not reported. It's the media that has screwed up everyone's perceptions, inducing you to believe that racial hatred is rampant everywhere in the country, when it's not, and that Americans can't talk to each other when they disagree, which they can. Your species is about to go to war in Iraq and Syria because your media informs you that this is normal and logical, and is already happening anyway. Surprise: it's not normal and logical."
I stared again at the blazing moon. "Yeah, so what am I supposed to do about that? For one thing, how do you prove that the media controls what we think. Most people think they think what they think because they think it."
Robert slowly shook his wrinkled head. "Harry, you are getting more eloquent by the day. Must be my influence. All you have to do is point out that there are never scandals or exposes about news anchors and reporters. They apparently never steal or commit sexual indiscretions or take bribes or report the news to suit someone. When was the last time you read about a reprehensible reporter? Are they not as pure as the driven snow?"
I looked at Robert for a moment, nodded in acceptance, opened my door, walked in, sat on the squishy couch and pondered:
A knavish speech sleeps in a fool's ear.