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Amusing Ourselves to Death , by Neil Postman

Amusing Ourselves to Death , by Neil Postman

Amusing Ourselves to Death by Neil Postman PENGUIN books AMUSING OURSELVES TO DEATH

Neil Postman--critic, writer, educator, and communications theorist--is chairman of the Department of Communication Arts at New York University and founder of its program in Media Ecology. Educated at the State University of New York and Columbia University, he is holder of the Christian Lindback Award for Excellence in Teaching and is also editor of Et Cetera, the journal of general semantics. His books include Technopoly and How To Watch TV News (with Steve Powers).

He is married and has three children and lives in Flushing, New York. Amusing Ourselves to Death Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business Nell Postman PENGUIN books

PENGUIN books Published by the Penguin Group Penguin books USA Inc., 375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, U.S.A.

Penguin books Ltd, 27 Wrights Lane, London W8 5TZ, England Penguin books Australia Ltd, Ringwood, Victoria, Australia Penguin books Canada Lid, I0 AIcom Avenue, Toronto. Ontario, Canada M4V 3B2 Penguin books (N.Z.) Ltd, 182-190 Wairau Road, Auckland 10, New Zealand Penguin books Ltd, Registered Offices: Harmondsworth, Middlesex, England First published in the United States of America by Viking Penguin Inc. 1985 Published in Penguin books 1986

23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30

Copyright stman, 1985 All rights reserved.

Grateful acknowledgment is made to the New York Times Company for permission to reprint from "Combining the books, Computers" by Edward Fiske, which appeared in the August 7, 1984, issue of the New York Times. Copyright the New York times Company.

Amusing Ourselves to Death , by Neil Postman

A section of this book was supported by a commission from the Annenberg Scholars Program, Annenberg School of Communications, University of Southern California.

Specifically, portions of chapters six and seven formed part of a paper delivered at the Scholars Conference, "Creating Meaning: Literacies of Our Time," February 1984.

Library of Congress Catalog Information Postman, Neill.. Amusing ourselves to death. Bibliography: p. Includes index. 1. Mass media -- Influence. I. Title. P94.P63 1986 302.2'34 86-9513

ISBN 0 14 00.9438 5

Printed in the United States of America Set in Linotron Meridien Except in the United States of America, this book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, re-sold, hired out, or otherwise distributed without the publisher's prior consent in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition including this condition being imposed on the subsequent purchase

Amusing Ourselves to Death , by Neil Postman

Contents
Part I

The Medium Is the Metaphor Media as Epistemology Typographic America The Typographic Mind The Peek-a-Boo World Part II

the Age of Show Business "Now... This"

Shuffle Off to Bethlehem Reach Out and Elect Someone Teaching as an Amusing Activity The Huxleyan Warning

Notes Bibliography

Amusing Ourselves to Death , by Neil Postman

Foreword

We were keeping our eye on .1984. When the year came and the prophecy didn't, thoughtful Americans sang softly in praise of themselves. the roots of liberal democracy had held. Wherever else the terror had happened, we, at least, had not been visited by Orwellian nightmares. But we had forgotten that alongside Orwell's dark vision, there was another--slightly older, slightly less well known, equally chilling: Aldous Huxley's Brave New World. Contrary to common belief even among the educated, 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...
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