Why Must There Be Only One?

I recently started listening to the Brexitcast podcast, from the BBC. I loved it. It was the right mix of proportions of deep, shallow, nerdy, serious, complex and whimsical. I have learned so much about politics in the UK and Europe because of it, and it has left me hungry for more things precisely like it. I can wait for the next episode, or I can look for podcasts to try and scratch that new found talky itch.

I recently started listening to a Norwegian band called Dimmu Borgir. I heard the lead single from their new album, and I had to play it on repeat, it grabbed my imagination so completely. The only problem was that the album from which it was to be taken would not come out for another month or so. I bought some of their previous albums, most made over a decade ago, in order to hear more.

I bought a book. Actually, I bought about a thousand. It was by a writer I had never heard of until I saw a review which struck the right chord with me. I bought the book, read it eagerly, and loved it. I bought several of their other books, essentially their entire back catalogue, because I had enjoyed that first one so much. I looked at the new books lovingly, treasuring the myriad joys yet to come.

I get invested easily, or at least I want to. I watch a thing on TV and it features a funny man, and the funny man makes me laugh, and so I seek out more stuff by the funny man – convinced that it will also make me laugh – under the impression that it was only the funny man which was responsible for making me laugh, and not the sum of all of the other parts unseen. I am invariably disappointed.

But the thing is that I keep doing it. I cited two examples above, and one vague hint at books unread. The reason the book example was so vague is that I have bought so many books in this way that it was impossible for me to narrow down the list to just one. Then again, I also want to encourage every person who reads this blog to buy more books. I want to get hooked on a career, and it fails me.

And every time I am split by a trio of conflicting emotions: they joy that I have just watched / heard / read something which really moved me, in ways that I wasn’t aware that I was looking for; the pure guilt that I have just spent even more money on something which I now consider substandard; petty annoyance which comes with expectations I have imposed on other people not being exactly met.

A similar sensation comes about when something, usually a TV series or an album, which I had been looking forward to, is only OK. Only OK is worse than downright terrible, because it is neither here nor there. As if they may as well not have bothered. The recent TV adaptation of Good Omens was OK. I watched an episode, and then fell asleep through the next. I tried again, blaming myself, as is usual. And I was so bored the episode might have been on for days as far as I could tell. The same happened recently with Mr. Robot: it was as if a hole had appeared in time itself, it was so very long.

I used to regularly watch This Week, on the BBC: I found it prickly and unconventional; I liked the depth of knowledge and the breadth of viewpoints. I failed to tune in for a few years, a combination of children and other interests. In the hunt for a fix for my Brexitcast greed I went back to This Week. I shouldn’t have: it is now venal and mocking, juvenile and shallow. They seem intent on insulting the very people they ask to offer their opinions, and I can’t be doing with that. A voice from the sofa is high-handed and braying; the chair will no longer intervene. A different kind of disappointment.

Disappointment is becoming all too frequent for me at the moment, and I do not know whether it is their fault or mine. I am at a pretty low ebb for various reasons, and it could just be that my skin has worn a little too thin to enjoy the perfectly enjoyable. I’m sure I have pondered on this topic before.

I could spend days of my life trawling through Netflix and Amazon Video for something to watch, for something to get engrossed in, only to have my balls metaphorically bored off within the first few minutes. I could then start again, or put on something I know I like. E4 are repeating all of Big Bang.

I trawl through the new TV channels; my hopes of something good poised, and ready to be satiated. I have found treasures here before: Rick and Morty, Life in Pieces, The Good Place. I want to find more gems; instead I find myself wading through things which do not appeal. Is that my fault yet?

It leaves me reticent to try things: I watch the trailer, and find it akin to palatable; I utterly ignore the reviews and recommendations of others: I learned long ago that they are fools’ errands. If I select a new series, I do so with my fingers firmly crossed. I don’t want to feel betrayed like I was last time.

Take Netflix for a moment: I enjoyed Travellers, The Umbrella Academy and The Great Interior Design Challenge. It may be years until one of those reappears, so I need to find a replacement. Do I give Cleverman, Jessica Jones and Tidying Up With Marie Kondo a go in their stead? Is that the idea?

Or do I need to think outside of the “More Like This” bubble? Are my attitudes to finding things too linear? I look for the same actor, the same writer, the same plot: should I be thinking more laterally about my choices? And if so, how do I do that? It’s not like I’m about to watch the “Popular on…”.

I know I should stop pinning so much of my personal hopes on ephemera like TV, books, music and podcasts, but I enjoy them: they help me through the day. I can extend that to YouTube channels and online shops. I have one or more good experiences, and I repeatedly go looking to replicate that.

I understand that if I play that song on repeat, I am going to get sick of it. I understand that authors look for different ways to challenge themselves in every book. I need to wise up to the fact that sometimes a high cannot be relived. Then again, that might stop me from buying as many books.