The Null Device

A Dark Ages bestiary

At the head of his most recent restaurant review, The Times' AA Gill pithily sums up YouTube:
“Look at this, Dad. You’ll like this.” Generally, when Ally, my eldest son, tells me to look at something I’ll like, it’s a 30-second phone film of someone getting very angry, falling over and being crapped on by a horse. Or it’s a dancing mongoose, or a drunk Australian naked bungee-jumping. YouTube has all the properties of a Dark Ages bestiary. It intimates a distant world of bizarre and inexplicable otherness, proving we live in a fearsomely weird and magic place full of talking dogs, men who use their oversized feet as umbrellas, women who breast-feed rabbits and the fanatical personal rants of messianic bedroom hermits. It’s the electric-light Herodotus, and I rather enjoy it, if I’m being led by a 15-year-old. It seems to confirm a personal aperçu: the more information you have, the less you understand.

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