Amusing Ourselves to Death. Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business. Aldous Huxley.
PowerPoint Slideshow about 'Amusing Ourselves to Death' - Pat_Xavi
Download NowAn Image/Link below is provided (as is) to download presentation
Download Policy: Content on the Website is provided to you AS IS for your information and personal use and may not be sold / licensed / shared on other websites without getting consent from its author.While downloading, if for some reason you are not able to download a presentation, the publisher may have deleted the file from their server.
Contrary to common belief, Huxley and Orwell did not prophesy the same thing. Orwell warns that we will be overcome by an externally imposed oppression. But in Huxley’s vision, no Big Brother is required to deprive people of their autonomy, maturity, and history. As he saw it, people will come to love their oppression, to adore the technologies that undo their capacities to think (vii).
Las Vegas???: “Our politics, religion, news, athletics, education, and commerce have been transformed into congenial adjuncts of show business, largely without protest or even much popular notice. The result is that we are a people on the verge of amusing ourselves to death” (4).
“For on television, discourse is conducted largely through visual imagery, which is to say that television gives us a conversation in images, not words. The emergence of the image-manager in the political arena and the concomitant decline of the speech writer attest to the fact that television demands a different kind of content from other media. You cannot do political philosophy on television. It’s form works against the content” (7).
“…this book is an inquiry into and lamentation about the most significant American cultural fact of the second half of the twentieth century: the decline of the Age of Typography and the ascendancy of the Age of Television. This change-over has dramatically and irreversibly shifted the content and meaning of public discourse, since two media so vastly different cannot accommodate the same ideas” (8).
“Each medium, like language itself, makes possible a unique mode of discourse by providing a new orientation for thought, for expression, for sensibility. Which, of course, is what McLuhan meant in saying the medium is the message. His aphorism, however is in need of amendment because, as it stands, it may lead one to confuse a message with a metaphor…
…A message denotes a specific, concrete statement about the world. But the forms of our media, including the symbols through which they permit conversation, do not make such statements. They are rather like metaphors, working by unobtrusive but powerful implication to enforce their special definitions of reality (10).”
“What I mean to point out here is that the introduction into a culture of a technique such as writing or a clock is not merely an extension of man’s power to bind time but a transformation of his way of thinking” (13).
“…the concept of truth is intimately linked to the biases of forms of expression. Truth does not, and never has, come unadorned. It must appear in the proper clothing or it is not acknowledged, which is a way of saying that the “truth” is a kind of cultural prejudice” (22/23).
“My argument is limited to saying that a major new medium changes the structure of discourse; it does so by encouraging certain uses of the intellect, by favoring certain definitions of intelligence and wisdom, and by demanding a certain kind of content – in a phrase, by creating new forms of truth telling” (27).
“We must be careful in praising or condemning because the future may hold surprises for us. The invention of the printing press itself is a paradigmatic example. Typography fostered the modern idea of individuality, but it destroyed the medieval sense of community and integration. Typography created prose, but made poetry into an exotic and elitist form of expression. Typography made modern science possible but transformed religious sensibility into mere superstition. Typography assisted in the growth of the nation-state but thereby made patriotism into a sordid if not lethal emotion” (29).
The Printing Press: Invented in southern Germany (near Augsburg, Regensburg, Ulm & Nuremberg) in the 1450s. Johannes Gansfleisch zur laden zum Gutenberg used a modified linen press fitted with typeface made from tin antimony to build the first printing press.
“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 not 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” (50).
Until the 1840s information could only move as quickly as human beings
Samuel Morse invented the telegraph in 1837. Space was annihilated.
Maine and Texas?
“…telegraphy gave legitimacy to the idea of context-free information; that is, to the ida that the value of information need not be tied to any function it might serve in social and political decision-making and action, but may attach merely to its novelty, interest, and curiosity” (65).
“Thus, to the reverent question posed by Morse – What hath God wrought? – a disturbing answer came back: a neighborhood of strangers and pointless quantity; a world of fragments and discontinuities” (70).
“In a peculiar way, the photograph was the perfect complement to the flood of telegraphic news-from-nowhere that threatened to submerge readers in a sea of facts from unknown places about strangers with unknown faces. For the photograph gave a concrete reality to the strange-sounding datelines, and attached faces to the unknown names…
…Thus it provided the illusion, at least, that ‘the news’ had a connection to something within one’s sensory experience. It created an apparent context for the ‘news of the day.’ And the ‘news of the day’ created a context for the photograph” (75).
“Together, this ensemble of electronic techniques called into being a new world – a peek-a-boo world, where now this event, now that, pops into view for a moment, then vanishes again. It is a world without much coherence or sense; a world that does not ask us, indeed, does not permit us to do anything; a world that is, like the child’s game of peek-a-boo, entirely self-contained” (77).