Download Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of by Neil Postman PDF

By Neil Postman

An excellent robust and significant book....This is a brutal indictment Postman has laid down and, as far as i will see, an irrefutable one. --Jonathan Yardley, Washington submit e-book international.

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Extra info for Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business

Example text

I merely observe that the America they try to explain was dominated by a public discourse which took its form from the products of the printing press. For two centuries, America declared its intentions, expressed its ideology, designed its laws, sold its products, created its literature and addressed its deities with black squiggles on white Paper. It did its talking in typography, and with that as the main feature of its symbolic environment rose to prominence in world civilization. the name I give to that period of time during which the American mind submitted itself to the sovereignty of the printing press is the Age of Exposition.

In short, the Lincoln-Douglas debates may be described as expository prose lifted whole from the printed page. That is the meaning of Douglas' reproach to the audience. He claimed that his appeal was to understanding and not to passion, as if the audience were to be silent, reflective readers, and his language the text which they must ponder. Which brings us, of course, to the questions, What are the implications for public discourse of a written, or typographic, metaphor? What is the character of its content?

By the turn of the century, advertisers no longer assumed rationality on the part of their potential customers. Advertising became one part depth psychology, one part aesthetic theory. Reason had to move itself to other arenas. To understand the role that the printed word played in pro-riding an earlier America with its assumptions about intelligence, truth and the nature of discourse, one must keep in view that the act of reading in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries had an entirely different quality to it than the act of reading does today.

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