Despite my prior bout of disbelief,
My strong desire to hear what Vic would say
And meet the heir of legend’s noblest thief
(Prometheus) inspired me to stay.
His face displayed a world of grief
That passing eras never would allay.
He started speaking at a frantic pace
And never looked directly at my face:
“What we’ve discovered is the slightest bur That’s found inside the smallest garden plot. I sought to gather elements and stir Ingredients in Mother Nature’s pot. I mixed these parts to see what might occur And used ‘what is’ to bring about ‘what’s not’. The epitaph I wanted on my slab Was: ‘Victor made the planet Earth his lab’.
The words of Victor prompted me to think:
“The monster’s often saner than the master
Whose works might bring us to destruction’s brink.
The age of technological disaster,
In which a world might die inside a blink,
Is plagued by folk of Victor’s mold and plaster.
If born today, when atoms roughly smash,
His monster might’ve burned our world to ash.”
Although I saw he truly was contrite,
I thought, “His type is apt to mope and mourn
Once it’s extinguished life and vital light
(which is more easily destroyed than born).”
…But human pity for his woeful plight
Began to soften and replace my scorn.
Recalling what a gentle sage had taught,
I kept inside the harmful words I’d thought.
Although the television was invented in the 20th century, the word “television”—originally the phrase “tell ye vision”—was coined centuries earlier by Henry VIII’s friend Tomas Morris. A passage in Morris’s pastoral allegory Mootopia mentions a device that would save people the effort of thinking through views or arriving at their own opinions. The device would tell one how to view all aspects of life; as one character in Mootopia says to another, With it to tell ye vision, you’ll need no eyes. It’ll tell ye, “Here you’ll love and there despise.”
Inventors in the 20th century were inspired by the idea of a product that they thought might increase economic productivity by reducing the amount of effort that people would need to put into thought. When trying to find a name more appealing than “idiot box,” inventors remembered Tomas Morris’s famous “Tell ye vision” couplet and decided that “television” had a nice ring.