There were once two men who went up into the mountains to gather edible moss. One night they were sharing a tent, and one was asleep and the other awake. The one who was awake saw the one who was asleep go creeping out; he got up and followed him, but however hard he ran he could not catch up with him. The sleeping man was headed straight up the mountain towards the glaciers, and the other saw where a huge giantess was sitting up there on the spur of the glacier. What she was doing was this: she would stretch out her arms with her hands crossed and then draw them in again to her breast, and in this way she was magically drawing the man towards her. The man ran straight into her arms, and then she ran off with him.
A year later, some people from this man’s district were gathering moss at the same place; he came there to meet them, and he was so short-spoken and surely that one could hardly get a word out of him. They asked him who he believed in, and he said he believed in God. The following year he came to the moss-gatherers again, and by then he looked so like a troll that he struck terror into them. However, he was again asked who he believed in, but he made no reply. This time he stayed a shorter time with them than before. The third year, he came again; by then he had turned into an absolute troll, and a very ugly-looking one too. Yet someone plucked up courage to ask him who he believed in, but he said he believed in “Trunt, Trunt, and the trolls in the fells”—and then he disappeared. After this he was never seen again, but for some years afterwards men did not dare go looking for moss in that place.—Jacqueline Simpson, Icelandic Folktales and Legends
News Coverage Multiplies Like … Well … Kangaroos
With so many news channels, whenever a big story breaks, you can be sure that it will be rubbed in your face twenty-four hours a day for weeks at a time. There are so many more types of news media that the effect is like being trapped in a hall of mirrors, like Orson Welles in The Lady from Shanghai.
Let me just name a few names so that you get the idea: O. J. Simpson (several times) … Caylee … Benghazi … Hurricane Sandy … Jodi Arias … Boston Marathon … Fiscal Cliff … IRS … Sequestration … Cleveland Sex Prisoners … Trayvon Martin … Aurora Shooting … Sandy Hook … Elections … Yada Yada Yada.
It’s rather amusing that programming is always interrupted by “Breaking News Stories” that are nothing more but a repetition of the last 175 “Breaking News Stories,” adding little but possibly some new conjectures and misinformation to what has already been stated. What gets me is that some people stayed glued to their TV sets expecting to hear something new that explains the whole story. But they are never quite satisfied. The news is always breaking, but somehow it never quite breaks.
Probably the smart course is, when one hears the original story, to shut off the set and walk away for a few days, until some perspective emerges. At first, most news sources feel too cagey and inhibited to divulge any real news: You have to wait for a while, sometimes for weeks. In the meantime, there is a steady drumbeat of no news that masquerades as news.
I’m sorry to say that the same goes for newspapers. The story comes blaring at you through oversize headlines. Weeks later, buried on an inside page, is the real story—but by then everyone’s too jaded to care.