The Curse of Video and other Agnosia
by John C. Dvorak

Video Agnosia (Ag-nose-ee-ah) will be the curse of the 21st Century. Like dyslexia, video agnosia may be genetic in its origins. Simply put, video agnosia is the inability to understand information coming from any video device. This includes both television and computer displays.

The curious thing about this handicap is that it reflects deeper brain disorders that crop up as other forms of agnosia (rock and roll agnosia, sexual agnosia, political agnosia) including the dreaded general agnosia–the inability to understand what the heck is going on around one. These are people who we say are “out of it.”

While researching this little known, but common, ailment I happened upon a secret society known as The Friends of Yuri Ivanovich. Apparently Ivanovich, a Russian emigre, was the first person fired from a job because of video agnosia. In 1956, he was working for Honeywell monitoring computer activity on an old cathode ray tube (CRT) and he kept seeing images of Czar Nicholas on the screen.

Paul Trudeau and John Collins of St. Paul, Minnesota, both knew Ivanovich and both suffered from this peculiar inability to see what is actually on a CRT. They determined that if the general public found out about this, the agnosiacs would be ridiculed. That was in 1957 and that was when they formed the FYI.

The way I was told the story, Collins and Trudeau secretly grew the membership to 10,000 when they discovered an older group of general agnosiacs with a membership of 100,000 in San Francisco. Formed around the turn of the century by the illustrious Blackjack Constable, San Francisco’s famous gambling cheat. Constable knew that there was a segment of the population, like himself, who had no understanding as to what was going on. Everyday some new technology would frighten him. It took him weeks to accept the existence of dog leashes and he never did understand their function.

Constable knew that the way to keep this handicap a secret was to form a group of like-minded associates–fellow agnosiacs. This group would work as a team and permeate all levels of decision-making in both government and private industry.

Agnosiacs have a special handshake or something–this wasn’t revealed to me–so they can identify each other. In this way they can promote each other to higher and higher positions of authority. Once authority is achieved, then it is up to them to resist all change. A unnamed member of the Friends of Yuri Ivanovich told me that most school boards, public utility commissions, and publishing companies have recently been taken over by secret agnosiac societies. “The auto industry was taken over a long time ago, and don’t trust anyone who belongs to a club,” he told me. He then hinted that in California the agnosiac central committee all works within the structure of the Department of Motor Vehicles.

Agnosiacs have to protect their identity or they wouldn’t be working at all. After discovering the existence of these underground organizations, I made it a point to identify characteristics of agnosiacs to, perhaps, ferret out a few.

Agnosia is a brain disorder that can’t be cured. If a person has one form of agnosia, he or she is likely to exhibit other aberrations. Bad judgment crops up a lot. If a Congressmen is investigated for taking bribes you’ll notice something else usually turns up such as a penchant for enjoying the company of young goats. This is a guy with general agnosia.

Agnosiacs generally do not like technology. They’ll never have a computer on, near or around their desks. They claim that this is some sort of executive decision–it’s demeaning to have a terminal on the desk. The fact is that this is probably a cover-up for agnosia. Be on the look out.

Agnosiacs have no sense of humor. If they laugh at something it is usually practiced. Agnosiacs will get together to decide something is funny and then all pretend to laugh at it in public to allay suspicion. Don’t be fooled by this ploy. Toss a one-liner at them and see how they react.

Agnosiacs can’t dress themselves. When given the go-ahead to choose their own clothes it’s a disaster. Needless to say the clothes that appeal to them are manufactured by companies which are run by fellow tasteless agnosiacs. Beware the ivy-league look.

Agnosiacs write lots of memos. They can seldom communicate any other way. Look for the tell-tale mark of the Friends of Yuri Ivanovich, the FYI symbol on the memo. If you really think it means “for your information,” you’ve been fooled.

Agnosiacs stick together. This is their strength. It’s up to normal people like you and I to stop creeping agnosia and get rid of agnosiacs from all positions of authority and put them back where they belong–sweeping streets.

–end

This column ran in the San Francisco Examiner circa 1984. The editor at the time actually did not recognize it as a satire and was asking me to get quotes from local agnosiacs. I should have asked him for a quote.




  1. Alfred1 says:

    Hilarious…it profile fits many members of the Congress and Senate…as well as a few Czars…

  2. Alfred1 says:

    Barney Frank’s gotta be one, his boyfriend ran a prostitution ring out of Frank’s house…and he never knew…

  3. Alfred1 says:

    I wonder if Agnosia Syndrome is manifest in a defendant who looks at both jury and camera and says “it depends on what the meaning of ‘is’ is….”

    Surely such a one is clueless.

  4. Nimby says:

    # 3 Alfred1 said, “Surely such a one is clueless.”

    Oh, the irony!

  5. Esteban says:

    I was waiting for a quote by Lirpa Sloof. Haven’t heard from her in your columns in a few years.

  6. Alfred1 says:

    CIA briefed Pelosi on waterboarding…she thought these were about techniques they would not use….

    Agnosia for sure.

  7. Jess Hurchist says:

    That explains everything

  8. lynn says:

    I suffer from video heck-no see-a.

  9. Anatoly Nechaev says:

    Just FYI: Ivanovich is either russian’s middlename or yugoslavian’s lastname. Based on the name it’s russian meddlename (son of Ivan).

  10. kmfix says:

    I didn’t understand any of this.


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