In a world plummeting toward the lowest common denominator, the last thing we need is the utterly debased coverage of Olympics events we just saw in CBS's presentation of Nagano's opening ceremonies. Incapable of grasping concepts, incapable of selecting essence, incapable of suspending revenue gratification, CBS demonstrated its inexperience and complete lack of class, over and over. In short, it presented a mirror to ourselves.

Focus on the mechanics of getting the ceremonial logs into place, keeping cameras moving despite our craving for dignity and understanding: Deprive viewers of sense of the underlying myth. Start a movement view with close-ups instead of embracing concept: Deprive viewers of initial understanding of action patterns and meaning. Cut away from Japanese faces showing sincere respect for Emperor, moment, and the simple importance of ceremony: Deprive viewers of reverence for Olympic ideals, ideals of world peace, respect for each others' cultures and values. But worst, with unrelenting efficiency, cut away to commercials in the middle of any moment of elegance, beauty, art, global community, whatever: Reduce everything to the marketability of spots in time. Trash it all, CBS. Ode to Joy? Ode to Bucks.You'd better show better sense before 2002. How about now, or we may choose not to look in your superficial, cynical mirror. And that goes for your advertisers, too.

Ivan Weber

Salt Lake City