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adapted for/featured in book #34

a essay by James J. Junking

WE ONLY HAVE EACH OTHER, OR: THE CONCEPT OF SEX & PLAY: It is my belief that the oldest form of entertainment, the great grandaddy of modern sports, is the concept of play. Almost every animal (well, mammals anyway) engages in some kind of "play." That is they frollick with one another in such a way that their brain tells them, "this is good; this is making you really happy right now." In the humanoids and great apes (and all descedents), sexual intercourse was the most majorly fun "play" activity of all (one that came with the added bonus of continuing the species, but still a form of entertainment nonetheless).

TOTALLY ANCIENT: I suppose as long as humans and human ancestors have had language, they've also had stories. What we would now call "folklore." Even if these stories were something like "Oh shit, one time, Jim got too close to the bears and the bears ate him." A story is a story. Even if its primary function is to relay some message or lesson, there's still a modicum of entertainment value. Some of these stories even got told in the form of pictures, either in sand, clay, dirt or on walls. This sort of thing would later be called "art," and people are still trying to figure out if its entertainment or not.

SLIGHTLY LESS ANCIENT: I hesitated to put music in the highly scientific timeframe above, though it probably belongs there. By this time, peeps were definitely singing some songs, even if they weren't writing out the music and lyrics. These, like the stories, were also passed along orally. Probably 'round this time as well, some of those stories got turned into plays. Again, if the story of Jim getting eaten by a bear was purely educational beforehand, it wasn't anymore. The humans discovered drama and founded the first true form of passive entertainment in all its titillating appeal. Also popular around this time: Feeding people who believed in a different fake person on a cloud to lions and other animals.

OH SHIT, WE CAN WRITE DOWN THE THINGS THAT WE SAY AND THEN DO SOMETHING CALLED 'READING' WHEN WE ARE BORED OR CURIOUS: In the beginning of the written word, only the elite even knew what a book was. I'm sure to a poor dude, a book looked like a useless loaf of bread. But the rich people paid slightly less rich people to make handwritten copies of certain short story collections (mostly science fiction). Then they occasionally read them in between killing the unrich and eating grapes. The unrich were pretty much still on the "let's get drunk, sing songs and maybe fuck" phase of entertainment. But soon they would have books too.

BOOKS AND EDUCATION SPREAD LIKE A PLAGUE ONLY KINDA WORSE: So some dude invents a printing press and then just like that a TON more peeps were getting into books. Some of these plebians even took a stab at writing some of their own. And all was jolly. Songs could be written down. Other dudes even figured out a way to write music using little symbols and lines. This all made stories, songs and plays easier to distribute. Which was awesome for the population's entertainment level. Downside: Dangerous ideas could also be communicated better, faster and wider, and that was less cool.

MODERN TIMES: Fast-forward, like, a ton of years (although only a small amount in the "big picture"). You ever wonder how fucking stupid it was to label things 'modern' in the 20th century? Could these idiots not see how eventually all the shit they found so cool would no longer be 'modern'? Regardless, the Industrial Revolution, and some other stuff, brought about a huge wave of innovations in recording devices. These things just made a lot of the old entertainments, like music, playable by machines and not just people. Although, at the tail end of this period, a dude invented what would become movies (precursor to TV, YouTube, etc.). And that, while still rooted theoretically in drama, theatres and even story-telling, was WAY different.

THE GOLDEN OLDIES: Following 'Modern Times' came 'The Golden Oldies' which makes sense. Sure. The most important development in the world of entertainment in this important historical timeframe was of course the aforementioned TV (an acronym for Tele Vision). This was like a movie but it was in your house and it was on all the fucking time. Also around this time, entertainment began to shape culture in a way in which it never had before. And nevermind if that is a bogus statement because around this time narcissism started to become a form of entertainment in and of itself, not just a time-treasured pastime beloved by the super rich. So entire great big masses of people could all feel like they were "a part of something." A different less tangible form of self-enjoyment through perceived connections with people you did not know and were never going to meet. Like Beatlemania. Also: Videogames were invented (for peeps who were more chill and OK with being outside of themselves in a fantasyland).

THE INTERNET: Even without the invention of flying cars, time and technology seemed to move lightning fast, though sloth-like when you stepped back to really look at it. So the time period before The Internet Age seemed to last a 1,000 years, but in reality was like maybe 25. But then we got The Internet and it was like WHOA. In the early 2010s, people were still experiencing this mind-blowing form of entertainment like it was still new and exciting. There were two sub-waves to this tsunami of fun. They are commonly know as Web 1.0 and Web 2.0, but they are sometimes referred to by their Latin monickers/acronyms: BFF (Before Fucking Facebook) and AD (After Douchedom). BFF was legit. Lots of moderately rich people and a few poors joined the super rich, and they had fun doing that. Other people just spent a lot of time masturbating to porn pics (or vids if they had a super fast dial-up connection). Web 2.0 ushered in the advent of social networking. Where, for some reason, people got enjoyment out of simply talking about themselves and looking at pictures of themselves. It was like having your mirror and your diary broadcast to the entire world. People got a lot of satisfaction out of doing this and they still do. It is highly unclear how long this will last.

WHAT's NEXT?: Great question. This decade/era is still in progress so it's weeding itself, so to speak. Clearly, VR (Virtually Real™) appears to be atop the list but I wouldn't be surprised if something less tangible and more abstract slips into our collective consciousness in the next 1-3 years. The future... wow, what a trip! And I'd like to thank you for taking this trip with me, the author of this article, James. J. Junking. Peace be with you and gob bless.

3rd ed.; published 18 JULY 2017