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Amusing Ourselves to Death Synthesis essay Essay

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❶The strictly oral culture defined intelligence by the ability to memorize proverbs and the print culture defines intelligence through the ability to see past the shapes of the letters and words on the page in order to give them meaning and see logic in the argument. It may be some time before the effects of this technology become clear, but by then they will probably be so common and widespread as to be invisible, just like the effects of television on our minds today.




In each of the cultures Postman described thus far, intelligence was defined in a different way. The strictly oral culture defined intelligence by the ability to memorize proverbs and the print culture defines intelligence through the ability to see past the shapes of the letters and words on the page in order to give them meaning and see logic in the argument.

The principle concept of the chapter is that the medium civilization utilizes affects the means in which it obtains truth. Postman cites figures that demonstrate unusually high literacy rates in Colonial America and commends the fact that the highly religious colonists did not restrict themselves to solely reading religious texts.

This passage stood out because it basically summarized the chapter without the use of statistics or a philosophical quote, it simply states how valuable the printed word was in nineteenth century America.

The figures and opinions of professionals blurs the overall message of the passage because its an abundance of information that could quite simply be summed up in a few sentences. America relied on print for information the way modern-day society relies on television and music for entertainment, thus proving that America was truly founded by intellectual minds and has transformed into a society concerned only with appearance and entertainment.

Almost all of the characteristics we associate with mature discourse were amplified by typography, which has the strongest possible bias towards exposition: The passage was distinct in that it so clearly presented the complexity of language at that time and how it was so necessary and, in a way, captivating. Although amusing, we are neither allowed nor permitted to act upon the information presented to us. It is in the nature of the medium that it must suppress the contents of ideas in order to accommodate the requirements of visual interest; that is to say, to accommodate the values of show business.

He then goes on to explain what television specifically needs to force an epistemology of entertainment. Everything presented under the screen will struggle against the demands of the medium.

It is probably more accurate to call them emotions rather than opinions. The overall idea being that television has transformed news into an entertainment business rather than it being about information.

The obsession with entertainment blinds people from the important, possibly boring, information so that they focus on the headline and the person presenting the information, not absorbing the background of the event. Essentially, the media-metaphor of television has transformed religion into a form of entertainment.

The passage, in essence, states that everything on television is available for entertainment, including religion. The statement sums up a majority of the novel in that television is all about image and entertainment regardless of the topic. He describes political candidates as portraying themselves not as they are, but as the public wants them to be. This quote does an impressive job of summarizing the key idea of they chapter- politicians are being molded to express the views society wants them to have rather than the views they really possess.

Personally, this is one of my favorite quotes from the book because I feel that it truly relates to the political figures of modern-day America. Children cannot ask questions of what television shows present to them, there is more visual learning rather than oral, and there is no possible way for the children to learn social skills that they would learn interacting with children their age in a classroom.

This quote stood out among the chapter because it basically stated what I was thinking; teaching is becoming the job of entertainers rather than educated officials. He states that we did not account for the harmful nature of television and that there is no excuse for the destruction we let it create.

Essentially, television defines our culture and in order to fix the problem, we have to recognize is as a part of our culture.

The addition of photographs to news stories only served to obscure this fact. But if there is a photograph of the train attached to it, suddenly it seems that I have received actual information. While my mind has no context for the story, the picture gives it the illusion of context. It is not just a train that crashed, but that train—the one in the picture.

Indeed we are now so completely accustomed to our information being placed in a pseudo-context that we virtually no longer recognise its irrelevance at all. The question of how television and the tsunami of information that comes to us through its airwaves affects our minds has never lost its importance, but it has receded into the background and become almost invisible. In Part II, Postman addresses the questions he feels we must be asking: What kinds of conversation does it permit?

What are the intellectual tendencies it encourages? What sort of culture does it produce? Because television must present its content through images, it is in the nature of the medium to suppress the content of ideas to accommodate the requirements of visual interest. As a result, our entire worldview is hopelessly distorted. Naturally, the worst offenders are the news programs. Thus television restores the fallacy that the ultimate truth of a proposition does not depend on its content but on who is speaking it.

The fact that news stories are often condensed to less than one minute completely prevents the audience from taking them seriously. Add to this the juxtaposition of commercials in between serious news stories, and the result is the cultivation of an insane epistemology whereby we are conditioned to believe that gruesome stories of horror and death are all greatly exaggerated and not to be taken too seriously. In likening our current society to that of Brave New World , Postman asserts that television is our own version of soma , the drug that numbs people to the soul-crushing realities of the world.

Perhaps the most absurd area of human thought to be taken over and transformed by television is religion. No longer is religion the realm of higher ideals, sacred ritual, and intimate soul-searching, but it has been hijacked by televangelists who present religion, like everything else on television, as a form of entertainment. Changing the medium through which a message is given invariably changes the meaning of the message.

The TV-screen itself is also so saturated with profane and commercial events that it is almost impossible for it to be a meaningful frame for sacred events. Furthermore, a television viewer, unlike a church congregant, is free to change the channel. Any television programmer knows that to keep the viewer watching they must offer something the viewer wants. Neither Christ nor Mohammed nor Buddha nor any other religious teacher has offered people anything more than what they needed , but television preachers are forced to offer viewers what they want.

Finally, because it is their face on the screen and their show, God plays the role of a minor character. With religious programming it is ultimately not the abstract concept of the Divine Creator to be worshipped, but the preacher himself on the screen.

Perhaps the most damaging thing about television is the impact it has had on our political process, which is intimately related to the character of TV commercials, which Postman claims are the fundamental metaphor for political discourse in America. For one thing, commercials undermine capitalism. By manufacturing desires rather than offering products to meet genuine needs, commercials destroy what is essential for capitalism to work: Commercials also foster an epistemology that makes us believe that all problems are solvable, solvable fast, and solvable through technology.

Clearly, such a format can easily undermine the democratic process as well. Politicians can no longer be merely capable, intelligent, worldly individuals with clear positions on the issues and plans to make this country better, but they must be celebrities, concerned less with their actual plans and positions and almost exclusively with their own image. The politician does not offer an image of himself on television, but he offers himself as an image of the audience.

The audience usually votes for the candidate who most reminds them of themselves, even if it is against their own self-interest. Television also promotes a kind of widespread cultural amnesia. When our discourse was dominated by the written word, the past was a very real force and important events tended to have far-reaching, enduring effects.

History is contained in the very essence of literature, as every word, sentence, and paragraph are continuously there, able to be read, re-read, and be referred back to at any time. By contrast, television is an exclusively present-centred medium, with images popping onto the screen for a few seconds and then disappearing, never to be seen again.

There is no longer any real need for censorship, as information is not around long enough to have a real effect. The problem is not that there is too little access to information, but that there is too much information, and the more information we have the more irrelevant it all becomes.

And if all of our information is in the form of images on a screen, once those images no longer show up on the screen we are no longer concerned with it, even if the events are still going on and nothing has been resolved. As you might have guessed, television had turned education into a form of entertainment as well.

As Postman argues, the context of a lesson may be more important than the content. A child is more likely to get bored in class if the lesson is not as fun as the shows he sees on television.


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- Reflective Essay on Postman’s Amusing Ourselves to Death In Amusing Ourselves to Death, Postman provides a critical analysis of the media environment in He explores the role and impact of the media by addressing different sectors of society, naming religion, politics, news, and education.

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Amusing Ourselves to Death study guide contains a biography of Neil Postman, quiz questions, major themes, characters, and a full summary and analysis.

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Amusing Ourselves to Death Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business Television has entered our homes at an alarming rate since its first conception. The result is that we are a people on the verge of amusing ourselves to death ().4/4(4). s examination of this problem in his book, Amusing Ourselves to Death, is a dire warning of the consequences of living in a culture dominated by television, and while over 20 years have passed since this book was written, the introduction of the internet has made this work even more relevant today than it was then.

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Sep 30,  · Truth Exposed in Amusing Ourselves to Death Essay Words | 7 Pages Exposed in Amusing Ourselves to Death Neil Postman is deeply worried about what technology can do to a culture or, more importantly, what technology can undo in . Neil Postman (), the author of “Amusing Ourselves to Death” and an educator, tackled the now apparent fact that unlike George Orwell’s prediction that our rights to thinking would be ripped away, Aldous Huxley’s prediction that we will gladly hand them away voluntarily has become more and more true.