Friday, January 05, 2007

All Sins Paid in Full: The Morality of a Weatherman

The northeast is currently experiencing unseasonably warm weather. It is delightful if you do not think of polar bears drowning, and the ecological catastrophe it would seem to portend. This evening exhaustion and a strange headache left me in front of the TV during the nightly round of infotainment that some call news. I happened to catch the local weather forecast, which ended with a discussion of an impending cold front. The weatherperson, I mean meteorologist, stated that colder temperatures were imminent, that soon "we would pay for this nice weather."

This happens a lot on local weather forecasts. (In fact my brother pointed this out to me, and since does not have a blog it is my minimally insightful observation now). Weather forecasting is often a matter of subjecting the weather to a moral economy of debt and cost. "After all of this rain, we are due some sun..." "We are paying for those warm days" etc. Suffering is rewarded with sun and warm weather, and, in turn, every nice day must be paid for with a day of rain. To quote Nietzsche, “Fixing prices, setting values, working out equivalents, exchanging—this preoccupied man’s first thoughts to such a degree that in a certain sense it constitutes thought.” Or, to turn to Spinoza, the weather is not just predicted, or explained according to a series of causes, the high fronts and approaching low pressure systems of meteorology, but subject to a narrative of final causes, of purposes subordinated to our all too human goals and desires.

Thus, the weather forecast could be taken as an allegory for the "news" itself, it is not so much that events have to be explained, or predicted, according to their causes, but narrated according to their ends. Good actions (and countries) must be rewarded and bad ones punished.

1 comment:

readingmao said...

you don't need to be a weatherman to know which way the wind blows...