Amusing Ourselves To Death: Public Discourse In The Age Of Show Business

Paperback | December 27, 2005

byNeil PostmanIntroduction byAndrew Postman

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Originally published in 1985, Neil Postman’s groundbreaking polemic about the corrosive effects of television on our politics and public discourse has been hailed as a twenty-first-century book published in the twentieth century. Now, with television joined by more sophisticated electronic media—from the Internet to cell phones to DVDs—it has taken on even greater significance. Amusing Ourselves to Death is a prophetic look at what happens when politics, journalism, education, and even religion become subject to the demands of  entertainment. It is also a blueprint for regaining controlof our media, so that they can serve our highest goals.

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From the Publisher

Originally published in 1985, Neil Postman’s groundbreaking polemic about the corrosive effects of television on our politics and public discourse has been hailed as a twenty-first-century book published in the twentieth century. Now, with television joined by more sophisticated electronic media—from the Internet to cell phones to DVDs...

Neil Postman (1931–2003) was chairman of the Department of Communication Arts at New York University and founder of its Media Ecology program. He wrote more than twenty books.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:208 pages, 7.8 × 5.1 × 0.6 inPublished:December 27, 2005Publisher:Penguin Publishing GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:014303653X

ISBN - 13:9780143036531

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Read from the Book

Table of ContentsABOUT THE AUTHORSTitle PageCopyright PageIntroductionForeword Part I.Chapter 1. - The Medium Is the MetaphorChapter 2. - Media as EpistemologyChapter 3. - Typographic AmericaChapter 4. - The Typographic MindChapter 5. - The Peek-a-Boo World Part II.Chapter 6. - The Age of Show BusinessChapter 7. - “Now ... This”Chapter 8. - Shuffle Off to BethlehemChapter 9. - Reach Out and Elect SomeoneChapter 10. - Teaching as an Amusing ActivityChapter 11. - The Huxleyan Warning NotesBibliographyIndexAcclaim for Neil Postman’s Amusing Ourselves to Death“As a fervent evangelist of the age of Hollywood, I publicly opposed Neil Postman’s dark picture of our media-saturated future. But time has proved Postman right. He accurately foresaw that the young would inherit a frantically all-consuming media culture of glitz, gossip, and greed.”—Camille Paglia “A brillant, powerful and important book. This is an indictment that Postman has laid down and, so far as I can see, an irrefutable one.”—Jonathan Yardley, The Washington Post Book World “He starts where Marshall McLuhan left off, constructing his arguments with the resources of a scholar and the wit of a raconteur.”—The Christian Science Monitor “This comes along at exactly the right moment.... We must confront the challenge of his prophetic vision.”—Jonathan KozolABOUT THE AUTHORSFor the last third of the twentieth century, Neil Postman was one of America’s foremost social critics and education and communications theorists, and his ideas and accessibility won him an international following. An influential and revered teacher, he was professor for more than forty years at New York University, where he founded the renowned Media Ecology program. Blessed with an unusually far-reaching mind, he authored more than twenty books, producing major works on education (Teaching as a Subversive Activity, The End of Education), childhood (The Disappearance of Childhood), language (Crazy Talk, Stupid Talk), news (How to Watch TV News, with Steve Powers) and technology’s impact on culture (Technopoly). Amusing Ourselves to Death remains his most reverberating and widely read book, translated into more than a dozen languages. He was educated at the State University of New York at Fredonia and Columbia University. He died in October 2003, at the age of seventy-two. Andrew Postman, Neil’s son, is the author of five books, including the novel Now I Know Everything. For several years he was a monthly columnist for Glamour and his work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and New York Magazine, among numerous publications.PENGUIN BOOKS Published by the Penguin Group Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, U.S.A. Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M4P 2Y3 (a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.) Penguin Books Ltd, 80 Strand, London WC2R ORL, England Penguin Ireland, 25 St Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2, Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd) Penguin Group (Australia), 250 Camberwell Road, Camberwell, Victoria 3124, Australia (a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty Ltd) Penguin Books India Pvt Ltd, 11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park, New Delhi - 110 017, India Penguin Group (NZ), 67 Apollo Drive, Rosedale, North Shore 0632, New Zealand (a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd) Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty) Ltd, 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196, South Africa Penguin Books Ltd, Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R ORL, England First published in the United States of America by Viking Penguin Inc. 1985 Published in Penguin Books 1986 This edition with an introduction by Andrew Postman published 2006  Copyright © Neil Postman, 1985Introduction copyright © Andrew Postman, 2005 All rights reserved Grateful acknowledgment is made to The New York Times Company for permission to reprint from “Combining TV, Books, Computers” by Edward Fiske, which appeared in the August 7, 1984 issue of The New York Times. Copyright © 1984 by The New York Times Company. 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. eISBN : 978-1-101-04262-5   The scanning, uploading and distribution of this book via the Internet or via any other means without the permission of the publisher is illegal and punishable by law. Please purchase only authorized electronic editions, and do not participate in or encourage electronic piracy of copyrighted materials. Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated.Introduction to the Twentieth Anniversary EditionNow this?A book of social commentary published twenty years ago? You’re not busy enough writing e-mails, returning calls, downloading tunes, playing games (online, PlayStation, Game Boy), checking out Web sites, sending text messages, IM’ing, Tivoing, watching what you’ve Tivoed, browsing through magazines and newspapers, reading new books—now you’ve got to stop and read a book that first appeared in the last century, not to mention the last millennium? Come on. Like your outlook on today could seriously be rocked by this plain-spoken provocation about The World of 1985, a world yet to be infiltrated by the Internet, cell phones, PDAs, cable channels by the hundreds, DVDs, call-waiting, caller ID, blogs, flat-screens, HDTV, and iPods? Is it really plausible that this slim volume, with its once-urgent premonitions about the nuanced and deep-seated perils of television, could feel timely today, the Age of Computers ? Is it really plausible that this book about how TV is turning all public life (education, religion, politics, journalism) into entertainment; how the image is undermining other forms of communication, particularly the written word; and how our bottomless appetite for TV will make content so abundantly available, context be damned, that we’ll be overwhelmed by “information glut” until what is truly meaningful is lost and we no longer care what we’ve lost as long as we’re being amused.... Can such a book possibly have relevance to you and The World of 2006 and beyond?I think you’ve answered your own question.

Table of Contents

Part I
1. The Medium Is the Metaphor
2. Media as Epistemology
3. Typographic America
4. The Typographic Mind
5. The Peek-a-Boo World
Part II
6. The Age of Show Business
7. "Now...This"
8. Shuffle Off to Bethlehem
9. Reach Out and Elect Someone
10. Teaching as an Amusing Activity
11. The Huxleyan Warning