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

By Neil Postman

A super robust 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 submit e-book international.

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

Example text

As Winthrop Hudson has pointed out, even Methodist camp meetings combined picnics with opportunities to listen to oratory. Indeed, most of the camp grounds originally established for religious inspiration--Chautauqua, New York; Ocean Grove, New Jersey; Bayview, Michigan; Junaluska, North Carolina--were eventually transformed into conference centers, serving educational and intellectual functions. In other words, the use of language as a means of complex argument was an important, pleasurable and common form of discourse in almost every public arena.

The formidable content to Edwards' theology must inevitably engage the intellect; if there is such a content to the theology of the television evangelicals, they have not yet made it known. the differences between the character of discourse in a print-based culture and the character of discourse in a television-based culture are also evident if one looks at the legal system. In a print-based culture, lawyers tended to be well educated, devoted to reason, and capable of impressive expositional argument.

This may sound odd, but since I shall be arguing soon enough that much of our discourse today has only a marginal propositional content, I must stress the point here. 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.

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