[ PDF / Epub ] ☃ Amazing Ourselves to Death: Neil Postman's Brave New World Revisited Author Lance Strate – Thomashillier.co.uk

Amazing Ourselves to Death: Neil Postman's Brave New World Revisited Neil Postman S Most Popular Work, Amusing Ourselves To Death , Provided An Insightful Critique Of The Effects Of Television On Public Discourse In America, Arguing That Television S Bias Towards Entertaining Content Trivializes Serious Issues And Undermines The Basis Of Democratic Culture Lance Strate, Who Earned His Doctorate Under Neil Postman And Is One Of The Leading Media Ecology Scholars Of Our Time, Re Examines Postman S Arguments, Updating His Analysis And Critique For The Twenty First Century Media Environment That Includes The Expansion Of Television Programming Via Cable And Satellite As Well As The Internet, The Web, Social Media, And Mobile Technologies Integrating Postman S Arguments About Television With His Critique Of Technology In General, Strate Considers The Current State Of Journalism, Politics, Religion, And Education In American Culture Strate Also Contextualizes Amusing Ourselves To Death Through An Examination Of Postman S Life And Career And The Field Of Media Ecology That Postman Introduced This Is A Book About Our Prospects For The Future, Which Can Only Be Based On The Ways In Which We Think And Talk About The Present

10 thoughts on “Amazing Ourselves to Death: Neil Postman's Brave New World Revisited

  1. says:

    Stepping back from the book, a slight grin plays at the corners of my mouth This is definitely the sort of book I enjoy, and its exploration of our culture and technology s transformative effect upon it was insightful and illuminating It was intriguing reading this book after having just finished Postman s Technopoly, which is referenced rather frequently in this book though not as much as Postman s Amusing Ourselves to Death.I would encourage teachers and educators to read this book just Stepping back from the book, a slight grin plays at the corners of my mouth This is definitely the sort of book I enjoy, and its exploration of our culture and technology s transformative effect upon it was insightful and illuminating It was intriguing reading this book after having just finished Postman s Technopoly, which is referenced rather frequently in this book though not as much as Postman s Amusing Ourselves to Death.I would encourage teachers and educators to read this book just be prepared, it s a mouthful The research is rich and the analysis incisive No quarters are spared and almost every corner of society is touched upon I think pastors would also benefit from reading this, especially if they find themselves utilizing or wrestling with transmitting their services or sermons The relationship between medium and message is nowherepoignant than in the church.In the end, I greatly enjoyed the book and found its contents quite thought provoking I m looking forward to picking it apart and discussing it in an upcoming seminar There are some interesting implications liturgically and societally which I d love to toss around But I think the book does good justice to Postman s work in decades past and Strate does a good job helping update the conversation and draw the contribution of other voices in alongside Postman s.Here are my chapter by chapter thoughts reactions Strate starts his first chapter with a nod to the story of Nero fiddling while Rome burns, noting that the poignancy of the saying lies in the inappropriateness of the Emperor s actions to the situation at hand This, he argues, is Postman s thought in his seminal book Amusing Ourselves to Death With a nod towards Postman s Technopoly, Strate points out that Postman was very concerned with the overwhelming nature of data and information and media modern technology was providing mankind It is overwhelming in its totality And Postman s fear was not that humanity would fall prey to a totalitarian government such as Orwell portrayed in his 1984, but rather that we would succumb to the trivialization of all of life such as Huxley conveyed in his Brave New World Strate takes time in his second chapter to attempt a brief biography of Neil Postman As the book is both an analysis and furtherance of Postman s work, this is appropriate It also helps the reader gain an appropriate respect for and appreciation of Postman s contribution to the conversation surrounding media and its medium Strate continually comes back to the term media ecologist and media ecology throughout the chapter It would seem that his perspective is that is the arena in which Postman ultimately maneuvered and postulated What I appreciated the most about the chapter was the subtle revelation of Postman s sense of humor.In the third chapter, Strate works towards defining what a media ecology is and how that concept has been situated in conversations and the works of scholars Ultimately, it is a wide and pervasive area of study As he is broaching a general definition of media ecology Strate writes, The re are no clear boundaries that separate subject matter studied within the field from subject matter that is considered outside of the field s area 43 In other words, the boundaries are there, but they re not that clear and kind of fudgeable Strate does offer a good conversation on medium and what it is and the boundaries of defining it, as well as how it relates to technological advance The latter is the final exploration of the chapter, touching on how technological advance and or change has repercussions, many of which cannot be anticipated and often fall against the intent of the initial technological advance.The fourth chapter explores the changes which have occurred culturally because of the advent of the printing press and everything which has followed since then There was a sense of perverse fascination in reading through his summary of what has occurred, like re watching a train wreck one knows is going to be pretty bad But the details of the transition always fascinate me That the advent of electronic communication and media would have such a drastic impact upon western society and especially American is just amazing In chronicling all the different transitions and changes which occurred, Strate regularly comes back to the principles and technological age which birthed America and highlights Postman s piercing question of whether America can survive the transition from technocracy of its birth to the Technopoly it is becoming today Now this begins the fifth chapter, and so Strate turns his attention to the news More generally, this chapter is about the flow of information in a culture, specifically critiquing how the flow of that information affects the populace s capacity to interpret, prioritize and engage the information He upholds Postman s and Ellul s critiques of information overload There is a sad irony as he recognizes that many currently as of the writing of his book receive the most newsworthy information from the essentially comedic shows of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report The ultimate result of this entertainment orientation of the news media is a populace poorly equipped to engage the issues at hand and fulfill the obligations of citizenship in a democracy Working through the impact of the media revolution which has occurred over the past century, Strate focuses upon the intersection of politics and television in the sixth chapter His exploration unfolds largely as a degenerating tendency in political leadership, as political leaders learn the lessons of presenting themselves appropriately through the medium of television and ultimately utilizing the Internet well also He traces how the entertainment orientation of television has effectively transformed political campaigns into extended public celebrity contests, with the prize the presidency going to the one who can best convince the American public that he can be the best President He starts the chapter with a short exploration of the show Survivor, and closes with the question of whether or not we have, through the rise of the medium television and the internet, effectively voted ourselves off the island.What about religion This could have been the title Strate chose for his seventh chapter Yet he chose theincisive phrase, Neon Gods Thenarrow focus of the chapter is an analysis of the impact of the rise of electronic media upon religious culture in America He notes the rise of the televangelists, where the entertainment orientation of electronic media has given rise to religious leaders who utilize the medium well He also, almost as an aside, notes that the rise of electronic media also gave rise to stars, which is what the ancients also called their deities 119 In places his analysis of modern culture s intaraction with electronic media bears echos or resonances of James K A Smith s liturgical analysis He closes the chapter with the sad point that all of the information and noise brought about by the rise of electronic media may be preventing us from hearing that still, small voice of God In his penultimate chapter, Strate focuses a littledirectly upon education Up to this point, he had indicated or implicated educational ramifications for this transition to electronic media that has taken place In the eighth chapter he focuses upon the impact upon education In short his argument which seems to be essentially Postman s argument is that the modern practice of eagerly jamming new technological trends into education, we are unknowingly teaching children things which essentially undercut the education we actually want to give them As an interesting side note, I almost wonder if he or Postman would want an education that walks a child through technological development In other words, first the child learns to write papers out in handwriting and then the child is taught about word processors Additionally, Strate raises up Postman s critique that there is no metanarrative for education, no story to situate the education within there is no god or moral purpose driving education And that is was must be regained for education to have a chance of adequately educating and discipling children.The title of Strate s last chapter is The Tempest and it is both a meteorological reference as well as a literary one The chapter is a call to action Or,specifically, a call to an intelligent discussion in the midst of the tempest of our technopoly He holds to Postman s claims that there is a way for us to be a loving resistance fighter of the transformation electronic media is unleashing upon modernity Like Postman, he upholds education as the most important arena to rescue and get right in relation to technological advance But there is hope, he affirms, if we work in the areas we can and strive to illuminate those changes and transformations technology is working in and around us We don t have to blindly accept the changes it wroughts and we can work towards a better tomorrow

  2. says:

    A highly intelligent, lucidly reasoned and written assessment of Neil Postman s work Postman died on the doorstep of the social media age, and Strate s book brings Postman s thinking to bear on the media world now burgeoning around us Well balanced, clear, supported by copious pertinent references, Amazing Ourselves to Death will be the book that I ll point to when people ask me where they can learnabout Neil Postman.

  3. says:

    302.23 S8981 2014

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