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Download e-book for iPad: Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of by Neil Postman

By Neil Postman

ISBN-10: 0140094385

ISBN-13: 9780140094381

An excellent strong and demanding book....This is a brutal indictment Postman has laid down and, as far as i will be able to see, an irrefutable one. --Jonathan Yardley, Washington submit publication international.

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Extra resources for Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business

Sample text

In 1786, Benjamin Franklin observed that Americans were so busy reading newspapers and pamphlets that they scarcely had time for books. )24 Franklin's reference to pamphlets ought not to go unnoticed. the proliferation of newspapers in all the Colonies was accompanied by the rapid diffusion of pamphlets and broadsides. " 26 At the time Tocqueville was making his observations of America, printing had already spread to all the regions of the country. the South had lagged behind the North not only in the formation of schools (almost all of which were private rather than public) but in its uses of the printing press.

Though one may accomplish it from time to time, it is very hard to say nothing when employing a written English sentence. What else is exposition good for? Words have very little to recommend them except as carriers of meaning. the shapes of written words are not especially interesting to look at. Even the sounds of sentences of spoken words are rarely engaging except when composed by those with extraordinary poetic gifts. If a sentence refuses to issue forth a fact, a request, a question, an assertion, an explanation, it is nonsense, a mere grammatical shell.

At Ottowa, Douglas put seven interrogatives to Lincoln, all of which would have been rhetorically pointless unless the audience was familiar with the Dred Scott decision, the quarrel between Douglas and President Buchanan, the disaffection of some Democrats, the Abolition platform, and Lincoln's famous "House divided" speech at Cooper Union. Further, in answering Douglas' questions in a later debate, Lincoln made a subtle distinction between what he was, or was not, "pledged" to uphold and what he actually believed, which he surely would not have attempted unless he assumed the audience could grasp his point.

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Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business by Neil Postman


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