By Neil Postman
An excellent strong 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 ebook global.
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Extra resources for Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business
42 This odd practice is less a reflection of an American's obstinacy than of his modeling his conversational style on the structure of the printed word. Since the printed word is impersonal and is addressed to an invisible audience, what Tocqueville is describing here is a kind of printed orality, which was observable in diverse forms of oral discourse. "43 And even when the Great Awakening came--a revivalist movement that challenged the analytical, dispassionate spirit of Deism--its highly emotional preachers used an oratory that could be transformed easily to the printed page.
In 1896, HoO employed, for the first time, a picture of a baby in a high chair, the bowl of cereal before him, his spoon in hand, his face ecstatic. 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.
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?