CAT 1: Media SeductionsMedia Influenceandthe School of Athens Elizabeth Losh http://losh.ucsd.edu
Academic Writing:Creating a Portfolio Ideas Draft: a draft ready for discussion with your TA section leader or with the Writing Studio tutors Working Draft: a draft ready for peer editing Final Draft: a draft ready to be graded by your section leader
Addressing Counterarguments Carr on Steven Johnson’s work How can the same evidence be used to support different conclusions? (122-123) CAT 1 Student Gil Olaes did some more detective work . . .
Johnson in Context 1 The intellectual nourishment of reading books is so deeply ingrained in our assumptions that it's hard to contemplate a different viewpoint. But as McLuhan famously observed, the problem with judging new cultural systems on their own terms is that the presence of the recent past inevitably colors your vision of the emerging form, highlighting the flaws and imperfections. Games have historically suffered from this syndrome, largely because they have been contrasted with the older conventions of reading.
Johnson in Context 2 To get around these prejudices, try this thought experiment. Imagine an alternate world identical to ours save one techno-historical change: video games were invented and popularized before books. In this parallel universe, kids have been playing games for centuries - and then these page-bound texts come along and suddenly they're all the rage. What would the teachers, and the parents, and the cultural authorities have to say about this frenzy of reading? I suspect it would sound something like this:
Johnson in Context 3 Reading books chronically under stimulates the senses. Unlike the longstanding tradition of game-playing - which engages the child in a vivid, three dimensional world filled with moving images and musical soundscapes, navigated and controlled with complex muscular movements – books are simply a barren string of words on the page. Only a small portion of the brain devoted to processing written language is activated during reading, while games engage the full range of the sensory and motor cortices.
Johnson in Context 4 Books are also tragically isolating. While games have for many years engaged the young in complex social relationships with their peers, building and exploring worlds together, books force the child to sequester him-or herself in a quiet space, shut off from interaction with other children. These new "libraries" that have arisen in recent years to facilitate reading activities are a frightening sight: dozens of young children, normally so vivacious and socially interactive, sitting alone in cubicles, reading silently, oblivious to their peers. Many children enjoy reading books, of course, and no doubt some of the flights of fancy conveyed by reading have their escapist merits. But for a sizable percentage of the population, books are downright discriminatory. The craze of recent years cruelly taunts the 10 million Americans who suffer from dyslexia, a condition that didn't even exist as a condition until printed text came along to stigmatize its sufferers.
Johnson in Context 5 It should probably go without saying, but it probably goes better with saying, that I don't agree with this argument. But neither is it exactly right to say that its contentions are untrue. The argument relies on a kind of amplified selectivity: it foregrounds certain isolated properties of books, and then projects worst-case scenarios based on these properties and their potential effects on the "younger generation." But it doesn't bring up any of the clear benefits of reading: the complexity of argument and storytelling offered by the book form; the stretching of the imagination triggered by reading words on a page; the shared experience you get when everyone is reading the same story.
Today We Will Look at Another One of Carr’s Sources Plato • Born into an influential family • Trained in philosophy, grammar, music, and gymnastics by the top teachers of his time • Became a disciple of Cratylus and then Socrates • May have traveled widely in the Mediterranean world • Supposedly founded the Academy • Wrote dozens of dialogues featuring Socrates • May have been involved in the politics of Syracuse
Reading with Time and Place in Mind School of Athens, Greece 450 BCE – 325 BCE The Age of Sensibility in England 1750-1820 Pre-Civil War United States 1845-1860 U.S. Occupation of the Philippines 1899-1913 The Spanish Civil War 1936-1939 Weimar and Nazi Germany 1919-1933 and 1933-1945 World War II - U.S. War with Japan 1941-1945 The McCarthy Era in the United States 1947-1957 Urban England: A Clockwork Orange 1962 and 1971 The Post-9/11 World of Digital Media
Today’s Thesis Plato cautioned that the “new media” of ancient Athens might corrupt the young with harmful images, erase traditional forms of memory, foster deception, and encourage blasphemous behavior among those who would copy the basest forms of representation. Aristotle argued against Plato’s theory of mimesis or imitation to assert instead that media experiences could trigger a positive catharsis that would purge the audience of negative emotions. Thus, for Aristotle, new media teaches rather than tempts.
How Do New Solutions Sometimes Create New Problems? “One would like to ask: is there, then, no positive gain in pleasure, no unequivocal increase in my feeling of happiness, if I can, as often as I please, hear the voice of a child of mine who is living hundreds of miles away or if I can learn in the shortest possible time after a friend has reached his destination that he has come through the long and difficult voyage unharmed?? Does it mean nothing that medicine has succeeded in enormously reducing infant mortality and the danger of infection for women in childbirth, and, indeed, in considerably lengthening the average life of a civilized man?” Sigmund Freud, Civilization and Its Discontents
How Do New Solutions Sometimes Create New Problems? “If there had been no railway to conquer distances, my child would never have left his native town and I should need no telephone to hear his voice; if travelling across the ocean by ship had not been introduced, my friend would not have embarked on his sea-voyage and I should not need a cable to relieve my anxiety about him. What is the use of reducing infantile mortality when it is precisely that reduction which imposes the greatest restraint on us in the begetting of children, so that, taken all round, we nevertheless rear no more children than in the days before the reign of hygiene, while at the same time we have created difficult conditions for our sexual life in marriage?” Sigmund Freud, Civilization and Its Discontents
Bread as a Technology What does bread signify? What does it take to make bread? What does bread make possible? “seemed no man at all of those who eat good wheaten bread” The Odyssey, Eighth Century B.C.
Money as a Technology 600 BCE coins made in Asia Minor from precious metals for trade 500 BCE city-states minting their own coins Athenian silver drachma
Writing as a Technology Bronze Age Mycenaean Greece ca. 1600 BCE – 1100 BCE Linear B ca. 1375−1200 BCE Collapse ca. 1200-1150 BCE Homer ca. 850 BCE Earliest Inscriptions in the Ancient Greek alphabet 770-750 BCE
A Time of Rapid Transition Polis Literate Culture Oikos Oral-Formulaic Culture
How did philosophers in the School of Athens see their own proximity to oral-formulaic culture? Socrates 469 BCE-399 BCE Plato 424/423 BCE-348/347 BCE Aristotle 384 BCE-322 BCE Alexander 356-323 BCE
Plato in the Gorgias: Rhetoric vs. Philosophy ‘ cosmetics vs. gymnastics
Plato in the Gorgias: Rhetoric vs. Philosophy ‘ pastries vs. medicine
The Technologies of Delivery Theater of Syracuse Theater of Epidaurus
The Phaedrus Writing and Rhetoric “We should, then, as we were proposing just now, discuss the theory of good (or bad) speaking and writing.” [259e] Recurring characters: From Republic II Thrasymachus: “Justice is nothing but the advantage of the strong” on the Ring of Gyges From Symposium Eryximachus and Euripedes
Phaedrus 258bThe Desire for Posterity “Then if this speech is approved, the writer leaves the theater in great delight; but if it is not recorded and he is not granted the privilege of speech-writing and is not considered worthy to be an author, he is grieved, and his friends with him.”
“making fun of our discourse” [264e] “A bronze maiden am I; and I am placed upon the tomb of Midas. So long as water runs and tall trees put forth leaves, Remaining in this very spot upon a much lamented tomb, I shall declare to passers by that Midas is buried here; and you perceive, I fancy, that it makes no difference whether any line of it is put first or last.”
The Myth of Thoth [274c-e] “’This invention, O king,” said Theuth, ‘will make the Egyptians wiser and will improve their memories; for it is an elixir of memory and wisdom that I have discovered.’ But Thamus replied, ‘Most ingenious Theuth, one man has the ability to beget arts, but the ability to judge of their usefulness or harmfulness to their users belongs to another.’”
A Device for Forgetting[275a] “and now you, who are the father of letters, have been led by your affection to ascribe to them a power the opposite of that which they really possess. For this invention will produce forgetfulness in the minds of those who learn to use it, because they will not practice their memory. Their trust in writing, produced by external characters which are no part of themselves, will discourage the use of their own memory within them. You have invented an elixir not of memory, but of reminding; and you offer your pupils the appearance of wisdom, not true wisdom, for they will read many things without instruction and will therefore seem [275b] to know many things, when they are for the most part ignorant and hard to get along with, since they are not wise, but only appear wise.”
Is Writing Interactive Enoughfor Civic Discourse? [275d] “Writing, Phaedrus, has this strange quality, and is very like painting; for the creatures of painting stand like living beings, but if one asks them a question, they preserve a solemn silence. And so it is with written words; you might think they spoke as if they had intelligence, but if you question them, wishing to know about their sayings, they always say only one and the same thing.”
Orphaned Words “And every word, when [275e] once it is written, is bandied about, alike among those who understand and those who have no interest in it, and it knows not to whom to speak or not to speak; when ill-treated or unjustly reviled it always needs its father to help it; for it has no power to protect or help itself.”
The Doctrine of Impressionin The Republic “Do you not know, then, that the beginning in every task is the chief thing, especially for any creature that is young and tender? [377b] For it is then that it is best molded and takes the impression that one wishes to stamp upon it.” “Quite so.”
Plato in the Republic: Theatre and Imitation The argument for banishing poets
Plato on Censorship “Shall we, then, thus lightly suffer our children to listen to any chance stories fashioned by any chance teachers and so to take into their minds opinions for the most part contrary to those that we shall think it desirable for them to hold when they are grown up?” “By no manner of means will we allow it.” “We must begin, then, it seems, by a censorship [377c] over our storymakers, and what they do well we must pass and what not, reject.
The Story of Kronos “Even if they were true I should not think that they ought to be thus lightly told to thoughtless young persons.” Republic 378a
“but if any poets compose a 'Sorrows of Niobe,' the poem that contains these iambics, or a tale of the Pelopidae or of Troy, or anything else of the kind, we must either forbid them to say that these woes are the work of God, or they must devise some such interpretation as we now require, and must declare that what God [380b] did was righteous and good, and they were benefited by their chastisement.
How is emotion gendered?[387e] “’Then he makes the least lament and bears it most moderately when any such misfortune overtakes him’ ‘Certainly.’ ‘Then we should be right in doing away with the lamentations of men of note and in attributing them to women.’”
The Allegory of the Cave[514a] “’Next’ said I, ‘compare our nature in respect of education and its lack to such an experience as this. Picture men dwelling in a sort of subterranean cavern with a long entrance open to the light on its entire width. Conceive them as having their legs and necks fettered from childhood, so that they remain in the same spot, [514b] able to look forward only, and prevented by the fetters from turning their heads. Picture further the light from a fire burning higher up and at a distance behind them, and between the fire and the prisoners and above them a road along which a low wall has been built, as the exhibitors of puppet-shows have partitions before the men themselves, above which they show the puppets.’”
The Doctrine of Mimesis [595a]The Argument for Banishing Poets in X “’What about it?’ he said. ‘In refusing to admit at all so much of it as is imitative; for that it is certainly not to be received is, I think, [595b] still more plainly apparent now that we have distinguished the several parts of the soul.” “What do you mean?” “Why, between ourselves—for you will not betray me to the tragic poets and all other imitators—that kind of art seems to be a corruption of the mind of all listeners who do not possess, as an antidote a knowledge of its real nature.”
Couch-makers and Playwrights “’What will you say he is in relation to the couch?’ [597e] ‘This,’ said he, ‘seems to me the most reasonable designation for him, that he is the imitator of the thing which those others produce.’ ‘Very good,’ said I; ‘the producer of the product three removes from nature you call the imitator?’ ‘By all means,’ he said. ‘This, then, will apply to the maker of tragedies also, if he is an imitator and is in his nature three removes from the king and the truth, as are all other imitators.” ‘It would seem so.’ ‘We are in agreement, then, about the imitator.’”
Homer’s Real Calling[600c] “‘Why, yes, that is the tradition,’ said I; ‘but do you suppose, Glaucon, that, if Homer had really been able to educate men and make them better and had possessed not the art of imitation but real knowledge, he would not have acquired many companions and been honored and loved by them?’”
What Does the Poet Know? “’And similarly, I suppose, we shall say that the poet himself, knowing nothing but how to imitate, lays on with words and phrases the colors of the several arts in such fashion that others equally ignorant, who see things only through words, will deem his words most excellent, [601b] whether he speak in rhythm, meter and harmony about cobbling or generalship or anything whatever.’”
The Mob in the Theater “And shall we not say that the part of us that leads us to dwell in memory on our suffering and impels us to lamentation, and cannot get enough of that sort of thing, is the irrational and idle part of us, the associate of cowardice?’ ‘Yes, we will say that’ ‘And does not [604e] the fretful part of us present many and varied occasions for imitation, while the intelligent and temperate disposition, always remaining approximately the same, is neither easy to imitate nor to be understood when imitated, especially by a nondescript mob assembled in the theater?’”
What Other Perspectives Developed in the School of Athens? Aristotle • Born in Stageira as the son of a physician • Studied in Athens with Plato • As head of the Royal Academy of Macedon educated Alexander the Great • Founded the Lyceum in Athens when he returned • Studied anatomy, astronomy, embryology, geography, geology, meteorology, physics and zoology. In philosophy, he wrote on aesthetics, ethics, government, metaphysics, politics, economics, psychology, rhetoric, and theology. He also studied education, foreign customs, literature and poetry
Aristotle in the Poetics: Theatre and Catharsis The argument for an education that includes being exposed to the arts and new media He also thought a good education should include rhetorical training.
The Theatre as Civic Space The same location used for public meetings Theatrical performances as part of community festivals to celebrate particular gods The voting on best playwright was done by ten judges selected by lots from names placed in urns
Different Types of Imitation[Poetics 1148a] Since living persons are the objects of representation, these must necessarily be either good men or inferior—thus only are characters normally distinguished, since ethical differences depend upon vice and virtue—that is to say either better than ourselves or worse or much what we are. It is the same with painters. Polygnotus depicted men as better than they are and Pauson worse, while Dionysius made likenesses