By A.J. Jacobs
Updated September 04, 1998 at 04:00 AM EDT

It’s TV more hypnotizing than Peter Jennings’ baritone. More riveting than bouncing Baywatch body parts. It’s the Prevue Channel — that excruciatingly slow scroll that lists what’s on the tube’s every channel. All My Children … Tennis … Pictionary … and on and on. Some folks tune in for actual information — and tear their hair out with impatience. Me, I like the Prevue Channel as a mesmerizing end in itself — my own electronic lava lamp. I savor the endless, repetitive looping. The fun bubbles of red that denote premium channels. The cryptic, haiku-like movie descriptions. (”Deconstructing Harry: A prominent author is plagued with writer’s block and numerous personal problems.”) But my favorite moment has to be when the Prevue Channel scrolls by the listing for the Prevue Channel itself, and I learn that I am watching … previews. What a gorgeously self-referential moment! What a brilliant metaphor for our onanistic media culture! Jacques Derrida would be proud.

[BOX]

GUILT-O-METER
10

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