I had taken my daughter to the dentist; she was ushered away and I was left alone in the too-warm waiting room as the rare morning sunshine brightened the room. I would have been fine in the quiet to read a magazine but the receptionist turned on the television, and a video started.
My dentist shows movies of nature, animals, and spectacular places. They are more like the IMAX productions than they are Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom, but there is a narrator telling us what we are watching. It’s one of the sad facts of human existence that we welcome explanations of what we witness ourselves; and that, ultimately, opens the door for political pundits to influence our world.
The nature videos are all set to music and are profound to watch. They show a flock of twenty thousand albatross at their breeding ground. But what they don’t show is the seven inch layer of albatross shit it leaves behind. It’s the producer’s poetic license to spin the situation any way they want–majestic flock of beautiful birds, or poop blasting predators that will pluck your eyes out.
The television is a large flat-screen that fills most of the wall, but it does not dominate that wall. Instead, the stuffed head of an elk dominates that wall, mounted just above the television, the elk’s jaw hangs in front of the screen.
To me it is rather macabre to have the mounted head of an animal shot in the wild hanging above the massive television showing a video of the majestic beauty of nature. The video, for its part, does show some of the darker sides of nature. In the part about cold and difficult northern shores of the eastern Pacific ocean, there was extensive footage of sea lions being eaten by killer whales. They then segue to a school of fish that attracts sharks, dolphins, and the aforementioned sea lions who feast on the fish. Above the water, albatross circle and then dive to pick up scraps, and then fly beneath the waves trying to catch their own. Finally, a humpback whale arrives and throws itself into the midst of the chaos for his own meal.
On second thought, perhaps it was perfectly fitting to have the elk’s head mounted on the wall.
During the dental procedure, classical music was playing through the speaker in the ceiling. As on the video, you can make anything seem majestic and beautiful if you just set it to music. The band on the Titanic gave it the old college try, and brought a sense of beauty to a rather depressing event. The boat may have sunk anyway, but it wasn’t on a sour note.