Thursday, November 1, 2018


This wonderful book published in 1985 by Neil Postman, analyzes the detrimental effects of television on meaningful public discourse. News as entertainment has only become worse since then. As a society we have become screen-obsessed zombies, distracted slaves to the corporate state.

Postman's argument that Huxley's, rather than Orwell's, dystopian vision more accurately describes our own is both compelling and meritorious. The state need not repress and oppress a terrorized society, if we willingly abrogate our liberties by passively absorbing pleasant distractions, rather than participating legitimately in our democracy. Sadly, more for us all than for the late Dr. Postman, I consider his refutation of "1984" as an American nightmare OBE (overcome by events).

(Richard Heffner interview with Neil Postman
 on The Open Mind

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"Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business (1985) is a book by educator Neil Postman. The book's origins lay in a talk Postman gave to the Frankfurt Book Fair in 1984. He was participating in a panel on George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four and the contemporary world. In the introduction to his book, Postman said that the contemporary world was better reflected by Aldous Huxley's Brave New World, whose public was oppressed by their addiction to amusement, than by Orwell's work, where they were oppressed by state control..."

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"Television has conditioned us to tolerate visually entertaining material measured out in spoonfuls of time, to the detriment of rational public discourse and reasoned public affairs. In this eloquent, persuasive book, Neil Postman alerts us to the real and present dangers of this state of affairs, and 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 out highest goals...

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