Among my objections to the current administration of the universe is the fact that the path of genius is still steep and strewn with scoffers, even when the path is Wilshire Boulevard. Consider the case of the Candle Corporation.
Candle Corp. deals with computer software, but also has had the gumption to pioneer a new dimension in video cassettes for viewing in the home and elsewhere. The first is called Fish I. Pop it into your video casette recorder and-- Shazam!--your television screen is filled with fish. Fish on tape, that is: it is like gazing at a tropical fish tank.
Okay, scoff. Just remember: they all laughed at Rockefeller Center; now they're fighting to get in. Some day, you may line up to rent or buy Fish XVII and other tapes that may be certified by the surgeon general to be good for body and soul.
Someone from Candle attended a seminar at a school of veterinary medicine, and learned that bonds between humans and lower animals can be relaxing (at least to the humans; the rest of the animal kingdom has not spoken up). For example, people placed in front of an aquarium have been found to experience reduced blood pressure and heart rate.
Well, yes, of course: especially if the people who are placed in front of the aquarium have just been doing anything more taxing than watching the fish. But the Candle people are interested in the practical problem of reducing stress in an office environment. They have an aquarium in their own lobby. Fish I was taped there and is (so say those who did the taping) better even than the real fish. The colors of the fish seem somehow more vivid on tape. Furthermore, the tape was done with dissolves and overlays (that is cinema- talk) to give the fish a pleasing rhythm that the brutes did not achieve on their own. And, best of all, Fish I has a soundtrack: the gurgle of bubbles.
Candle hopes some university will test the potential uses of such cassettes for mellowing out (that's Southern California talk--I think) the nation's office workers. Furthermore, Candle has a nibble (sorry about that) from a potential customer for Fish I. It is a chain of Florida hospitals that reasons, not unreasonably, as follows: patients emerging from surgery are more apt to live (and more apt to want to live) if, when they turn on the TV in the hospital room, they see tropical fish rather than "General Hospital."
Candle has in mind other cassettes: fire in a fireplace, wheat rippling in the wind, clouds scudding across a summer sky, waves gently lapping the shore. "Hey, Margaret, whatta ya wanna watch tonight--'Hollywood Squares' or the sun setting behind purple mountains majesty?"
The possibilities are limitless. In fact, Candle may lift the burdensomeness from life. I am not just thinking of small matters, such as the fact that a tropical fish tank, unlike the tape of one, occasionally needs cleaning. ("Daddy, can I have a hamster?" "No, Jimmy, but I'll buy you a tape of one.")
This may be the wave of the future: "Daddy, can I watch 'The Dukes of Hazzard'?" "No, but you can watch the tide go out on Cape Cod." "I think I'll read a book."
The national parks may some day be crammed with recreational vehicles whose owners divide their time between watching "General Hospital" on their generator-powered television sets, and roaring around on their off-trail motor bikes to feed Reese's Peanut Butter Cups to finicky bears with cholesterol problems. But never mind: get Yellowstone on tape and watch it at home in air- conditioned comfort.
"Have you been to Old Faithful?" "No. Why go when I've got it on tape with a sound track of French horns?"
At the 1964 World's Fair, Michelangelo's "Pieta" was displayed, illuminated by a flickering blue light, presumably in an attempt to improve it. But think: what really is in constant need of radical improvement? Yes, of course: a child. And what is more trouble than an aquarium, and messier than a hamster's cage? Correct again: a house full of children.
Evidently, some biological urge or spiritual need, or both, causes people to want to have children. But now comes a tidier, quieter solution: tapes of children instead of the real things. You could get a new set of children periodically, from a tape-of-the-month club. Variety is the spice of life, and all that would be missing is life.