It is entertaining, but neither allows nor permits us to do anything about the information it provides. Summary Essay Chapter 1 and Chapter 2 Neil Postman Amusing Ourselves to Death. When Postman contrasts more contemporary advertising – which uses slogans to appeal to people's psychology rather than their rationality, he barely mentions the possibility that the new media-metaphors are preferred by the powerful because they keep people from exercising rational thought. What is most intriguing to him is that the printed word had a monopoly on public entertainment and education; because print was the only outlet for thought, it became the media-metaphor for the culture, influencing the way people expressed themselves in "lineal, analytical structure" (41). After further in-depth consideration of how reading led to a historical shift towards reason over other faculties, Postman provides examples of how discourse was influenced towards reason in Typographic America. Advertising in its early forms, Postman argues, essentially assembled "a context in which the question, Is this true or false? All of these elements are those which make Postman so value reading and writing – they force one to grapple with the world, rather than blowing off what is uninteresting or not immediately accessible. As evidence of this prevalence, Postman cites Thomas Paine's Common Sense, a revolutionary pamphlet whose relative success Postman compares to the public success of the Super Bowl. Chapter 8 Summary 2 Chapter 8 Summary In Neil Postman’s book, Amusing Ourselves to Death, he attempts to persuade Americans that television is changing every aspect of our culture and world. "Amusing Ourselves to Death Chapters 3-5 Summary and Analysis". Postman seeks in this chapter to consider what is unique about oratory and the written word, and how it influenced the minds of those who lived under it. The implicit suggestion here is that our love of football and advertising has replaced our love of reason, language, and learning. Chapter 3 – Typographic America. On Reading “Amusing Ourselves to Death,” Chapter 6. The crossword puzzle provided a context for all of this meaningless information, whereas in the Age of Exposition, people did not need to find contexts for news that was delivered, precisely because it fit within an already existing context. As Postman notes: In the Victorian Era (mid-late 1800s), novelist Charles Dickens had as much fame as The Beatles in 1960, Michael Jackson in 1980, or Brad Pitt in 2014. Postman uses, “As America moved into the nineteenth century,” Postman continues, “it did so as a fully print-based culture in all of its regions.” Literature, newspapers, and pamphlets were ubiquitous. They're like having in-class notes for every discussion!”, “This is absolutely THE best teacher resource I have ever purchased. The Question and Answer section for Amusing Ourselves to Death is a great This quasi-Marxist critique is certainly something Postman would have been aware of, and it is interesting that he so conspicuously refuses to even postulate it. Therefore, every reader has the opportunity (or compulsion) to engage in dialogue with it. It is, in a word, rational. He notes that he will later explore how television inspires a discourse of "marginal" content (49). He or she could now feel that this headline was connected to his or her life because the illusion revealed that the news did in fact occur in real life. Postman considers that this perspective of reading as a "moral duty" resulted from the way that published texts freed Europeans from the confines of their local communities (33). He loves the idea of Typographic America because that media-metaphor allowed and encouraged everyone to be engaged. He quotes theorist Susan Sontag to suggest that a photograph presents only a decontextualized present, and allows us to break reality into component parts, no longer contingent on the greater context. It cannot be analyzed and refuted, because its very basis implies that we know the world well enough to capture it in image. Even uneducated people could react to long, intelligent discussions about slavery because they could weigh the propositions being put forward. Postman acknowledges that the Age of Exposition did not immediately die under these news pressures, but does illustrate that the writers of this age – like Faulkner or Fitzgerald – focused on the way in which people were disconnected from one another, as though implicitly acknowledging what was happening. Further, the conversation implied by writing has a universal edge. Everything Postman describes about the Peek-a-Boo world is doubly true about the Internet, where the public is not only privy to, but in control of, the incessant flow of information. If you wanted to exchange ideas, you did so in a pamphlet, a debate forum, or a lecture—all places where the form of printed language lent itself to a more sophisticated and elegant content. Much Internet humor derives from decontextualizing artists or politicians from their primary context, and the prevalence of photo manipulation allows even an amateur photographer to suggest extreme ideas that have the weight of objectivity without any pretense towards accuracy. resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel. These three chapters work together to end Part I by providing an equally theoretical and practical framework to understand Postman's method and purpose in Amusing Ourselves to Death. What is most troubling about this influx of irrelevant information is that while it "gives us something to talk about, it cannot lead to any meaningful action" (68). For instance, one cannot photograph nature; one can only photograph a tree, or a particular perspective of a cliffside. Teach your students to analyze literature like LitCharts does. Chapter Three, Amusing Ourselves to Death In the 19th century, Americans primarily read newspapers and pamphlets that focused on politics. He cites evidence of the way people spoke in the "impersonal" style of writing, even in such passionate, fiery outbursts like those of The Great Awakening. Amusing Ourselves to Death Summary Amusing Ourselves to Death is a work that aims to both explore complicated ideas and market itself to the general public. Telegraphy and photography stripped information from its context. However, the real problem came when not only news, but life, followed this peek-a-boo shape, and this is what he suggests happened when television became the primary media-metaphor. A photograph, on the other hand, is concerned only with particulars. Further, Postman believes that the telegraph made information "essentially incoherent" (69). I. Instant downloads of all 1392 LitChart PDFs This type of news had always existed in some form, but it now became the primary form of news. “No literary aristocracy emerged in Colonial America,” says Postman. Perhaps it is a fear that he would seem like a revolutionary rather than a media theorist, or perhaps he fears that such conspiracy theory is too controversial to keep a lay reader's attention. We do not respond to words themselves, but in fact look past those words to discern meaning. What was born was the "news of the day" – information on what atrocities had occurred, with little emphasis on relevance, the perspective of time, or functional value (67). Find a summary of this and each chapter of Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business! Postman cites an incident detailed in the Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, in which a sect of religious figures known as the Dunkers refused to publish the tenets of their faith, for fear that by recording their belief system, they would later be limited by the unalterable nature of those utterances. This summary is readily available in the study guide for this unit and has all the information you need to formulate... Chapter Three, Amusing Ourselves to Death. Neil Postman (1985) claims that “the news of the day” did not exist-could not exist in a world that lack the media to get it expression” (p. 7). Created by the original team behind SparkNotes, LitCharts are the world's best literature guides. Libraries became progressively more common, and though novels remained of lower reputation, writers like Walter Scott and Charles Dickens became celebrity figures nevertheless through the popularity of their stories. The Medium is the Metaphor. Amusing Ourselves to Death is not a long book — 163 pages of text. After discussing in more depth how the photograph created an illusory but still irrelevant context for irrelevant news, Postman points out how the crossword puzzle became popular around this time, suggesting that the public was learning to think in terms of irrelevant, decontextualized information. Because a text is generally spoken to nobody in particular (but rather to an unnamed audience), it is therefore directed towards everyone. Amusing Ourselves to Death study guide contains a biography of Neil Postman, quiz questions, major themes, characters, and a full summary and analysis. As newspapers become part of a dying industry, replaced by a prevalence of less-researched and accountable Internet sources, one would do well to heed the warning that information without context can only serve to make us less informed and less driven towards any type of real action. The passage from Chapter 3 of the novel, Amusing Ourselves to Death, by Neil Postman, demonstrates Postman’s argument that nineteenth century America was primarily focused on political writings rather than books. Mass media -- Influence. He contrasts this with typographic culture, in which news and arguments had a direct correlation to the context in which they were spoken, whether that was regional or topical. Postman notes that even lectures—spoken words—took on the quality of print. To Postman, that city is now Las Vegas. Not affiliated with Harvard College. Why do you think that TV showbiz took over typography as the dominant medium? Detailed explanations, analysis, and citation info for every important quote on LitCharts. The new idea was that distance no longer impeded the duration of communication. While speaking across a continent had obvious value, Postman argues, partly through quoting Thoreau, that telegraphy also redefined discourse in a pernicious fashion, for it "not only [permitted] but [insisted] upon a conversation" between regions that had little to say to one another (65). To begin his exploration of how print as a media-metaphor influenced the discourse of its time, Postman considers the famed Lincoln-Douglas debates, in which Abraham Lincoln and Stephen A. Douglas publicly debated one another when competing for the Illinois state senate seat. "Amusing Ourselves to Death" is an amazingly written and well-argued book. Detailed explanations, analysis, and citation info for every important quote on LitCharts. ... Summary Notes. What he most wishes to illustrate is that the audience of that day was both accustomed to and entertained by "language as a means of complex argument" (47). As noted before, Postman tends to ignore any discussion of power structures that might enforce these strictures for their own gain. Finally, Postman names this age as the "Age of Exposition," exposition meaning a mode of thought wherein one made a proposition and had a "tolerance for delayed response" to that proposition (63). Here’s his line of argument in 3 lessons: The 19th century was the age of reading. Chapter Summary for Neil Postman's Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business, part 1 chapter 4 summary. 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