On why 30 Rock makes you feel smart

30 Rock makes you feel smart because in order to find it funny you must enjoy thinking through several layers (and thus by definition we are talking "meta-layers") of meaning.

For example, when Jack Donaghey exclaims: "Good god, Devon's gay.  He's more powerful than I thought!" we laugh because its smart of us to laugh.  I laugh because of how an absurd situation is overcome through wit.  The absurd situation here is the discovery that someone you know very well is gay.  Of course, many would consider it natural to exclaim "Good god" after finding out such a piece of information.  For these people the exclamation is typically warranted by the fact that being gay is somehow wrong, odd, taboo, a piece of juicy gossip, etc. It is for precisely this demographic that the joke is not intended.  The people who find it funny are those who would never actually exclaim "Good god" upon finding out someone is gay.  This demographic smacks its forehead when someone treats coming out like its something to be gossiped about or derided.  Those of us who find the joke funny enjoy the full line because it makes light of such a backward reaction (the "Good god!"part) by making fun of it with the exact opposite of its typical motive.  "He's even more powerful than I thought" is beautifully witty because it subtly insults a certain portion of the population by portraying its perfect ideological nemesis (i.e. one who believes that being gay is a big deal because it is somehow advantageous, cool, powerful, etc.) as equally absurd for basically the same reason (that it is absurd to think that one's sexual orientation is worth considering in terms of "better" or "worse" off). 

Looking at Screens

My life is dominated by screens.  I look at my phone and laptop in bed.  I look at my phone and laptop and TV in my living room.  I go the office and look at my phone and laptop and another small-TV-sized monitor.  There is rarely a waking moment when I do not have immediate access to a screen, usually multiple screens.

At times, this is concerning.  Philosophers like Husserl and Deleuze have noted the constitutive power of processes of passive or affective synthesis.  The idea here is that a great deal of my identity as an organism (Deleuze), as a subject (Deleuze and Husserl), and as a person (Husserl) is constituted by affective relations to my environment.  In an image: my habits, expectations, motivated chains of thought, comforts, and so on are built up over time as I snowball about my world, accumulating ever more of it as it shapes and guides me.

The worry: fundamental change in form of life: now life is spent looking at things on screens instead of just things.

Of course, screens themselves count as "things"--I'm not making that rigorous of a metaphysical distinction--but they sure are very different than most things.  Screens open up new worlds.  The world presents us with things, but so do screens, even though screens are one of those things we are presented with in the world. 

Counter to the worry: why the nostalgia for things?  what do we actually do with screens? I spend an increasing amount of my screen time looking at or communicating with other people.

I'm not sure what screens are making me into, but I do know that I am always interested in higher resolution.  "Clear and distinct..." as Descartes says...