Saturday, August 09, 2008

Amusing Ourselves to Death by Neil Postman

A detailed and prescient examination of American media and the ways in which the telegraph and television have not only changed what type of information we consume, but its presentation. As entertainment has become the paramount factor, important content and discourse dissipates in the world of televised ‘news.’

His brilliant investigation suffers in that he did not discuss evolutionary theory and our biological tendencies to act in a certain way, and that I would need more data to be convinced by his claims regarding the literacy of early America.

The book, released in 1985, is well-written and makes intelligent and interesting points on almost every page. After reading such insightful and sustained argument, it is hard not to agree with his overall message that Huxley’s (Brave New World) concern supersedes Orwell’s (1984).

To further elucidate, I’ll provided an edited version of the brief Forward:

What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance.

This book is about the possibility that Huxley, not Orwell, was right.

Go read this book.


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