Get Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of PDF

By Neil Postman

ISBN-10: 0140094385

ISBN-13: 9780140094381

An excellent strong and critical book....This is a brutal indictment Postman has laid down and, as far as i will be able to see, an irrefutable one. --Jonathan Yardley, Washington put up e-book global.

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

Example text

The proliferation of newspapers in all the Colonies was accompanied by the rapid diffusion of pamphlets and broadsides. " 26 At the time Tocqueville was making his observations of America, printing had already spread to all the regions of the country. the South had lagged behind the North not only in the formation of schools (almost all of which were private rather than public) but in its uses of the printing press. Virginia, for example, did not get its first regularly published newspaper, the Virginia Gazette, until 1736.

Whenever language is the principal medium of communication--especially language controlled by the rigors of print--an idea, a fact, a claim is the inevitable result. the idea may be banal, the fact irrelevant, the claim false, but there is no escape from meaning when language is the instrument guiding one's thought. Though one may accomplish it from time to time, it is very hard to say nothing when employing a written English sentence. What else is exposition good for? Words have very little to recommend them except as carriers of meaning.

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? What does it demand of the public? What uses of the mind does it favor? One must begin, I think, by pointing to the obvious fact that the written word, and an oratory based upon it, has a content: a semantic, paraphrasable, propositional content.

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Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business by Neil Postman

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