Amusing Ourselves to Death

Amusing Ourselves to Death

Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business

by Neil Postman
Publisher: Penguin Putnam
208 pages
Not in stock

Ray Bradbury's book Fahrenheit 451 describes a civilization in which books are banned: people are not allowed to read—and, in essence, are discouraged to think—for themselves. George Orwell's 1984 paints a similar picture. Both of these men feared a totalitarian government, one in which the populace is controlled, in which books are banned. Aldous Huxley's slightly older Brave New World depicts a different—yet equally chilling—vision, one in which the population comes to love their oppression and adore the technologies that reduce their capacity to think. He feared that the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance; that the population would be reduced to passivity and egoism; that we would become a trivial culture.

That describes our culture, does it not? We are wholly immersed in images—especially disconnected, "entertaining" television images—that undermine our critical thinking and public discourse. (It's telling that a 2006 "American Idol" contest drew more votes—over 63 million!—than any American President has ever gotten!) In this book, Postman offers a critique of our television culture, alerting us to the real and present dangers of this state of affairs. His analysis is full of fascinating historical detail and will send your thought down unique paths.

Postman also offers compelling suggestions as to how to withstand the media onslaught. Before we hand over politics, education, religion and journalism to the show-business demands of the television age, we must recognize the ways in which the media shape our lives and the ways we can, in turn, shape them to serve our highest goals.

Additional Information:

Informing Ourselves to Death (A speech by Neil Postman)

Table of Contents:


    Part I

  1. The Medium Is the Metaphor
  2. Media as Epistemology
  3. Typographic America
  4. The Typographic Mind
  5. The Peek-a-Boo World

    Part II

  6. The Age of Show Business
  7. "Now... This"
  8. Shuffle Off to Bethlehem
  9. Reach Out and Elect Someone
  10. Teaching as an Amusing Activity
  11. The Huxleyan Warning

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