He goes on to show that television is the primary means of information and is converting it into entertainment. He argues that, like the telegraph, the television leads to too much information. Part I. He asks "what has music to do with the news? 27. The point Postman is trying to create is that a technology is "merely a machine"(84). The thesis of chapter 6 is that all information presented on a television is done so to be entertaining. No matter how grave, serious, or potentially relevant a story is, the discourse of news tells us that it should not be belabored, which it does by transitioning immediately to something unrelated. What is the relationship between the forms of communication and the quality of the culture? The third example is about the trial of Socrates and how he failed to have rhetoric-filled speech prepared. What does he mean by resonance in this context? This is an important detail to consider when trying to understand Postman's lesson. chapter; students must answer all of the questions for the chapters. How are the "tyranny of the corporate state" and the "Huxleyan tyranny" combined to undermine critical political discourse? 20. What is the point he makes by talking about Orwell and Huxley? However, with the telegraph, a conversation across our huge continent must necessarily have been decontexualized. I. ..Because it uses images and other art forms to appeal to the emotional needs of consumers. why is it there?"(102). People, he claims, subscribed to a discourse of language, which was important for the message it delivered, and not for the entertainment value inherent in the words. Describing an event was no longer the most efficient way to relive it. Secondly, it made appearance more relevant in our culture. 28. 7. It is "misleading information"(107) which also includes "—misplaced, irrelevant, fragmented or superficial information"(107). Foreward Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4 Chapter 5 Chapter 6 Chapter 7 Chapter 8 Chapter 9 Chapter 10 Chapter 11 Themes All Themes Form and Content Typography vs. The Question and Answer section for Amusing Ourselves to Death is a great Other works by Neil Postman: Crazy Talk, Stupid Talk (1976) The End of Education (1995) Table of Contents: Foreword. This happened because the news had a context – the listener could relate it to his or her life and community. The Question and Answer section for Amusing Ourselves to Death is a great resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel. test will be on: journalism public relations Integrate Postman's opinions on education in your answer. If desired, they could even write a response to an idea. Questions: Chapters 1-5 How do "Smoke Signals" fit into this discussion? the invention of the clock led to the idea of living "moment to moment" (11), living life in "mathematically measurable sequences" (11). 18. Warning. What was perhaps the main significance of the printing press upon the minds of the average person, especially in America? Explain the title Amusing Ourselves to Death. How is reading a book different… By having these messages brought to them, people might be encouraged to investigate political questions or visit a local church, when they might otherwise not have been. Amusing Ourselves to Death Discussion Questions Students must answer 6 questions for each chapter; students must answer all of the questions for the chapters that have fewer than 6 questions. Instead, he seems to think that civilization is somewhat powerless before its media-metaphor, especially when that civilization does not understand the way that media works to shape our discourse. The Peek-a Boo World led to the Age of Show Business, when entertainment became not just the discourse of news, but of everything, because of the media-metaphor of television. Instant downloads of all 1391 LitChart PDFs (including Amusing Ourselves to Death). The continually trivialized elections, decontextualized news shows, and simplistic religious attitudes all support the idea that the warning is literal. Summarize the 3 points that he makes concerning the counter-arguments to his thesis. In what ways is it not relevant? Hence, we are amusing ourselves to death. ... Chapter Three, Amusing Ourselves to Death . Image The History of Public Discourse and Media News and Entertainment Progress, Prediction, and the Unforeseen Future Therefore, television is a curriculum on the contemporary discourse – which says that all worth saying should be said as entertainment – rather than on any particular subject. Amusing ourselves to death, published in 1985, which will be the subject of this learning unit, and. In what ways is it not relevant? Chapter Summary for Neil Postman's Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business, part 2 chapter 6 summary. Feel free to cite Postman himself and/or your own opinions. "Amusing Ourselves to Death Essay Questions". Though there were witnesses that "were available to attest to the accuracy of the quotation" (20). How does Postmans allusions in Chapter one create meaning and persuade the audience to believe that his argument is probable? 8. 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. Postman argues that in mid-nineteenth century America, the intersection of telegraphy and photography led to a world in which information was delivered without context and without any pretense of inspiring contemplation. How does this help him clarify his thesis? He hints that this discussion could establish TV as a medium in which proper discourse could take place. What are the conclusions he draws from Chapter 6? 1. - Media as Epistemology Chapter 3. Therefore, information became a commodity to be collected, rather than a means by which one judged one's life and then took action. first example, he details the culture of a West African tribe that has no system of writing, instead using its "rich oral tradition" (18) to keep law. The concept of decontextualized news – the "Now…this" mentality – is doubly true on the Internet, where one can gather triple the amount of information his or her parents could in half the time and yet not necessarily have any context in which to understand that information. 23. Greece? The crossword puzzle created a context for information that otherwise did not have one. Chapter 1: the Medium Is the Metaphor. Welcome to the LitCharts study guide on Neil Postman's Amusing Ourselves to Death. 31. By posing school-worthy lessons in an entertainment context, children are being trained to respond to learning only when it is presented as entertainment. Speeches – like those of the Lincoln-Douglas debates – used long, complicated phraseology, and even areas like advertising used rational paragraphs to make claims about products. "is about the possibility that Huxley, not Orwell, was right" (Postman xx). The same information could not be relevant to someone in Maine and also relevant to someone in Texas. Through commercials, information is delivered in abundance. What is the bias of television? One could argue that Postman over-romanticizes Typographic America, but his argument is nevertheless striking. Amusing Ourselves to Death study guide contains a biography of Neil Postman, quiz questions, major themes, characters, and a full summary and analysis. 16. Postman explores how the discourse of Typographic America reflected this. 19. Amusing Ourselves to Death Discussion Questions. Similarly, one could argue that much of the problem lies with people's inherent triviality, and that television only amplifies these small-minded attitudes, rather than causing them to lead us "to death.". That is the point he is trying to make. On page 61, he concludes a paragraph by saying "this is the difference between thinking in a word-centered culture and thinking in an image-centered culture". Should the title be considered as hyperbole or literal warning? He claims that typography, or the written form, was the medium most influenced by the idea of exposition. Postman shares examples from 3 different cultures in order to show how "each culture conceives of [the truth] as being authentically expressed in certain symbolic forms that another culture may regard as trivial or irrelevant" (23). Learn vocabulary, terms, and more with flashcards, games, and other study tools. In what ways does the television commercial address itself to the psychological needs of the viewer? Not affiliated with Harvard College. 15. The result is we are a people on the verge of amusing ourselves to death” (3–4). 24. An important point that Postman tries to get across is that "television is altering the meaning of "being informed" by creating a species of information that might properly be called disinformation"(107). By listing these three points, Postman is able to clarify what exactly he is arguing, and what he is not. Postman refers to modern humans as time-servers, precisely because he believes our culture, after the invention of the clock, is dictated by time. Created by the original team behind SparkNotes, LitCharts are the world's best literature guides. Postman claims that an idea, claim, or fact is the most likely outcome of written content and argues that "it is very hard to say nothing when employing a written English sentence" (50). Postman says that this can undermine political discourse because corporate "does everything possible to encourage us to watch continuously"(141) and "in America, we are never denied the opportunity to amuse ourselves"(141). They appeal to the psychological needs of the viewer because they provide "instant therapy" (130). i am sure all of you will begin studying by then. He speaks of television almost like a sentient medium that inherently subscribes to its biases and preferences, so that it is almost a force like destiny. How is the threat of television commercials a threat to "freedom of information". basically 'the ways we define and regulate our ideas of truth"(18). Postman felt confident with the board of thinkers that would participate in the discussion. However, it is possible he does this for entertainment value, to keep his inherently academic book interesting to a general public. Chapter 1. We are drawn to symbols and images that appeal to us psychologically. Postman argues that the crossword puzzle became a popular pastime around the period that the telegraph was invented. 30. 21. 5 min read. Postman suggests that Marshall McLuhan's famous aphorism – that "the medium is the message" – is not quite accurate, since the medium is, in fact, the metaphor. a form of spoken writing and was considered to be important when communicating the truth. What kinds of proper behaviors and public decorum can be observed at school that cannot be observed from watching the television? LitCharts Teacher Editions. Example: Smoke signals. Amusing Ourselves to Death is not a long book — 163 pages of text. Postman makes the point that none of the thinkers ever asked for time to think. 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. Read the Study Guide for Amusing Ourselves to Death…, View Wikipedia Entries for Amusing Ourselves to Death…. Find a summary of this and each chapter of Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business! 17. Get an answer for 'What does Postman Amusing Ourselves to Death say that supports what Huxley says in Brave New World? It only dictates. Amusing Ourselves to Death Questions and Answers. He believes that the period of American history which was dominated by the printing press was "the Age of Exposition". The second example is about a university student citing an oral conversation as a source for his thesis (among 300 print referenced citations). Postman believes television does not only shape our culture, but "has gradually become our culture"(79). What are the lessons de draws by explaining "three cases of truth telling"? Both to increase profits from products, and to keep the public from demanding change, these entities might encourage the discourse introduced by television, rather than merely letting television take its own path. Who or what is to be blamed for the predominance of television, and the discourse it inspires? Postman does not believe that the increased audience afforded to discourse like politics and religion justifies the compromise that television requires of them. However, its thesis can easily be applied to – if not elevated by – the age of the Internet. The Medium Is the Metaphor. Before the telegraph, Postman suggests that news existed primarily to inspire action in the listener, to encourage him or her to change his or her world. - The Medium Is the Metaphor Chapter 2. This is quite distinct from the Age of Show Business, in which images are pleasing in themselves, so much so that we respond to the entertainment rather than to the message that the images are purportedly trying to impart. The rise of social media has enhanced the way that people can present themselves as commodities or defined personalities that ultimately entertain one another rather than provide accurate personal descriptions. Apply it to both television and the Internet. Without a medium, certain content would fail to exist. Postman states that "we ought also to look to Huxley, not Orwell, to understand the threat that television and other forms of imagery pose to the foundation of liberal democracy—namely, to freedom of information"(138). 8? Television is different than other forms of communication because it "encompasses all forms of discourse" (92). In this chapter, Postman argues that standardized tests were invented as a more efficient means of education. According to postman, what was rhetoric originally- that is to the Sophists of fifth century B.C. Summarize what he means here. First off, it allowed us to capture a moment in the past and have it in the present. This restricts our freedom to 'relevant' information. Even with the build up, Postman was unsatisfied. He defines rational as something that puts forth a proposition that the reader or audience can logically understand and then judge as true or false. In other words, media can change how a culture views things. Now they are known by their appearance. Citizens were able to comprehend this form of public speaking because they were used to the written format, the most popular medium of the day. Students must create 6 questions that are related to the assumptions and to the reading in chapter 11 The Huxleyan Warning. study guide will be posted sunday by noon. Why is the book still relevant, according to Andrew Postman? Material delivered by television will be seen as entertainment, regardless of its subject matter. Are standardized tests an accurate gauge of knowledge? How does he compare them to 'televangelical' preachers he talks about in Ch. He claims that "no matter what is depicted"(87), anything delivered by television will be seen as entertainment, or solely "for our amusement and pleasure" (87). Amusing Ourselves To Death. 26. He then turns to telegraphy and photography, how did the rise of these two mediums change how we viewed the world? His next line will make readers of 2018 take note. Detailed explanations, analysis, and citation info for every important quote on LitCharts. 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. The increasing ubiquity of television in America is at the center of this book’s set of concerns. Television, on the other hand, is an inherently secular space in which a viewer can change the channel and will soon be subjected to commercials even if she doesn't. Because it's difficult to write something and not share an idea, opinion, or fact. Teach your students to analyze literature like LitCharts does. Spectacle became the discourse of information, rather than serous content. Only once a certain technology incorporates itself within a social realm, can it become a medium. Chapter 2 – Media as Epistemology. With all the information Americans take in daily, follows with the fact that "at any given moment, 70 percent of our citizens do not know who is the Secretary of State or the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court"(106). ... Amusing Ourselves to Death Questions and Answers. Different cities in the USA have represented the zeitgeist at different … And the forms of communication and the content? What does he mean when he says "what I am claiming here is not that television is entertaining but that it has made entertainment itself the natural format for the representation of all experience"? Religion is also difficult and demanding, requiring a person to confront himself. His lesson is that when print media dominated culture, public discussion was, for the most part, orderly and rational because it followed the format of written communication. 32. As such, the value of silence and emptiness has declined in the face of the over-stimulation suggested by the media-metaphor of the Internet. In the chapter on education, Postman suggests that educational programs are less useful in teaching children to love learning than they are in teaching children to love television. Cedars, S.R.. McKeever, Christine ed. They "provide a slogan, a symbol or a focus that creates for viewers a comprehensive and compelling image of themselves" (135). Postman describes our culture as a this because of our constant need to be entertained by new knowledge, only for that information to vanish once it becomes "old". To speak without the use of rhetoric meant to speak "without proper emphasis or appropriate passion" (23) and could be seen as random and without direction. It is an easy jump to claim that in the Age of the Internet, the concept of "Now…this" not only remains relevant, but in fact seems almost prophetic on Postman's part. He begins chapter four by telling the story of the Lincoln-Douglas Debates. Politics are necessarily devalued into image politics through the television, which favors brevity, simplicity and imagery over deliberation and contemplation. his father "asked such good questions that they can be asked of non-television things, of all sorts of transforming developments and events that have happened since 1985, and since his death, and of things still unformed, for generations to come" (Postman xv), "is an inquiry into and a lamentation about the most significant American cultural fact of the second half of the twentieth century: the decline of the Age of Typography and the ascendancy of the Age of Television" (Page 8). Chapter 1: In Chapter 1 of the novel, Amusing Ourselves to Death, by Neil Postman, the concept of the “media metaphor” is introduced. Explain the Distinction he makes between a technology and a medium? Chapter Summary for Neil Postman's Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business, part 2 chapter 8 summary. Religion, he argues, requires a community present in a space that can be consecrated to its spiritual purpose. 2. The forms of communication will affect the content. No longer did man rely on nature and seasons, but instead "seconds and minutes" (Postman 11). For his third point, he claims that the content created by television affects communication, but not everything. The crossword puzzle was an obvious outgrowth because people could suddenly judge themselves on the extent of information ("trivia") they collected, and then use that information in a game. 5. His first point is that he is not trying to prove that media causes people to become less intelligent. Our culture revolves around "the now". Mass media -- Influence. He goes on to say that disinformation "creates the illusion of knowing something but which in fact leads one away from knowing" (107). Religion is but one entertainment soon to be replaced by politics soon to be replaced by sports, and so none of those are meant to be truly profound. He does this to prevent generalization among readers and to prevent them from claiming that he held a belief that he did not. Commercials are short. Audiences would gather to hear an oral discussion that could be described as literary in terms of content and format. The photograph changed how we viewed the world in a few ways. Title. 1. 14. Amusing Ourselves to Death Chapter Summaries/Analysis Amusing Ourselves To Death Chapter 1: In Chapter 1 of the novel, Amusing Ourselves to Death, by Neil Postman, the concept of the “media metaphor” is introduced. How does postman answer the question: does television reflect our culture or shape our culture? Participants were given time limits in which they could speak and because of this, communication was rushed or unorganized. It highlights how political discussion was carried out in the 19th century. Explain the phrase "Now…this," and how it serves as a metaphor for the way our current discourse operates. It has allowed many to start personal blogs, which use language and propositions, and many websites are indeed text-based. His main point was that preachers in the past used reason and theology when delivering sermons and formatted them like a written piece. As such, the complexities of any politician's personality and opinions can never be fully communicated on television without compromising his candidacy, and so the electorate will never have a truly rational understanding of who or what they are voting for. Start studying Understanding the Culture - Chapter 7 Study Guide. Explain the concept of a media-metaphor, as Postman defines it. Amusing Ourselves to Death study guide contains a biography of Neil Postman, quiz questions, major themes, characters, and a full summary and analysis. The television as a medium allows sound and picture to be used simultaneously. Before the photograph, thinkers and important public figures were known solely by what they wrote and the ideas they expressed. His reasoning is different with respect to each arena, but both arguments boil down to the fact that television does not deliver an authentic and honest experience. remember test covers film called control room, which has study questions posted on titanium and amusing ourselves to death, which has study question posted at end of the amusing ourselves to death powerpoint. However, one could argue that the increased audience does justify the compromises by suggesting that people are not typically inclined to pursue intellectual or spiritual outlets on their own. People thereby grew accustomed to information as something soon to be forgotten in favor of something else. In Ch. Postman define a medium as "the social and intellectual environment a machine creates" (84). resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel. Courtesy of neilpostman.org. Because this period was dominated by the printing press, typography was the dominant media form. Amusing Ourselves to Death study guide contains a biography of Neil Postman, quiz questions, major themes, characters, and a full summary and analysis. No one talked about philosophy- Indians; only main ideas What is the "news of the day" and how did it change our thinking? As such, our discourse both on and off the screen has turned into different shades of entertainment, no matter how important that discourse is. Postman states that "each medium, like language itself, makes possible a unique mode of discourse by providing a new orientation for thought, for expression, for sensibility" (10). In some way or another, a message will be conveyed when the medium is printed word. He states that "television-based epistemology pollutes public communication and its surrounding landscape, not that it pollutes everything" (28). 29. Postman is claiming that when printed word was the sole source of knowledge, public figures were known and remembered by what they had written, not by their appearance, and would be judged based upon their ideas and arguments. Anything delivered by television will be seen as entertainment and "for our amusement and pleasure" (87). Chapter Summary for Neil Postman's Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business, part 2 chapter 9 summary. Television delivers all subject matter as entertainment. Find a summary of this and each chapter of Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business! This philosophy applies to television in general, which is required to deliver its story or message in concrete 30 minute or one-hour chunks of time, and which is in fact meant to create a self-sustaining experience between each set of commercials. For his second point, he claims that the theories presented within this book do not yet pertain to everyone. What point is he trying to illustrate when he talks about the discussion following the controversial movie, The Day After? The relevance of any information to someone's life barely mattered, because even if it was relevant, it was soon replaced, leaving no time or inclination towards thought or consideration. He claims that theatrical devices are used a lot within television to set a mood, or to tell the viewer how they should be feeling. In 1772, Jacob Duche concluded that even "the poorest labourer upon the shore of the Delaware thinks himself entitled to deliver his sentiment in matters of religion or politics with as much freedom as the gentleman or scholar..." (34) The printing press revitalized the written word by making the medium accessible to the common man and, in turn, allowing the exchange of ideas and knowledge to the common man. As Andrew Postman notes in his introduction to the 20th anniversary edition of his father's book, there are some younger students who criticize the book as relevant only to an older generation. Amusing Ourselves to Death, Chapter 1, end of chapter. Television commercials, and television itself, are a threat because those who run it "do not limit our access to information but in fact widen it"(141). What is the lesson of all great television commercials? In what ways is Amusing Ourselves to Death still relevant to an age less defined by television than by the Internet? 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