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Se distraire à en mourir (1985)

par Neil Postman

MembresCritiquesPopularitéÉvaluation moyenneMentions
4,445571,942 (4.16)32
In this eloquent and persuasive book, Neil Postman examines the deep and broad effects of television culture on the manner in which we conduct our public affairs, on how "entertainment values" have corrupted the very way we think. As politics, news, religion, education, and commerce are given expression less and less in the form of printed or spoken words, they are rapidly being reshaped and staged to suit the requirements of television. And because television is a visual medium, whose images are most pleasurably apprehended when they are fast-moving and dynamic, discourse on television takes the form of entertainment. Television has little tolerance for argument, hypothesis, or explanation it demands performing art. Mr. Postman argues that public discourse, the advancing of arguments in logical order for the public good-once the hallmark of American culture-is being converted from exposition and explanation to entertainment.… (plus d'informations)
  1. 40
    Le Meilleur des mondes par Aldous Huxley (jstamp26)
  2. 00
    Hate Inc.: Why Today’s Media Makes Us Despise One Another par Matt Taibbi (themulhern)
    themulhern: Neil Postman's book is so much better, but Matt Taibibi's is so much more recent. Neil Postman is more interesting, more educated, and avoids the wierd cheap shots and obscenities directed at person's I've never heard of that Matt Taibibi enjoys. I guess Taibibi's is worth it for the supporting facts, which apparently he has the inside scoop on.… (plus d'informations)
  3. 11
    Loserthink: How Untrained Brains Are Ruining America par Scott Adams (themulhern)
    themulhern: There is a surprising amount of overlap between the views of the news that both books have.
  4. 00
    Anathem par Neal Stephenson (themulhern)
    themulhern: Stephenson himself remarked that Anathem was a book about how people don't read books anymore. Moreover, there is a delightfully satirical sequence in which the characters are discussing serious things over food at a rest stop, and the narrator is repeatedly distracted by images on the speelies that are incoherent yet commanding. Later, the protagonist realizes that one of these images was relevant, and there is another bit of satire.… (plus d'informations)
  5. 00
    La richesse des réseaux : Marchés et libertés à l'heure du partage social par Yochai Benkler (chiudrele)
    chiudrele: Explains how today's world of internet is different from the old world of television. Society is not merely consuming information and culture, it can also participate in creation of it.
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» Voir aussi les 32 mentions

Affichage de 1-5 de 57 (suivant | tout afficher)
A very interesting read. It amazes me that it is still relevant almost 30 years after it was written. ( )
  HLWard94 | Jul 7, 2021 |
Very entertaining read, ironically. Very much agree with the fact that most of the educational programs they make are isolated, simplistic and don't go into detail, that is they are mostly entertainment than education. Even more relevant is the fact that the large amount of information people are consuming is so irrelevant that they have to make up things to put it to use, like crosswards or quizzes, a problem not seen before in human history, as education was mostly undertaken for a more practicle purpose or as an end in itself. The trivialisation of news is worse than ever.
I liked reading about the 18th-19th century, the typographic America, when people had such attention spans that they could listen to two political speakers debating for 6 hours continuously. That is in such contrast to the "debates" they have on tv, where more often than not its just personal attacks for debates.
The biggest impact of things outlined in this book that I have felt personally is that I have been guilty of expecting education to be more or less entertaining. This book made me think about this bias that I didn't even notice I had. I have been guilty of branding more or less average professors as "boring", well maybe I will keep in mind that education isn't supposed be entertainment to begin with, it is something that requieres conquering of the desire to be constantly entertained.
I am glad I read BNW earlier, I have read so many books lately that I was able to understand much better because of that book.
1 voter Sebuktegin | May 25, 2021 |
This book I realize now after reading it again has been a significant influence in how I see the world, and it deserves fuller exploration. I book-marked many places. Here are my bookmarks from the first half of the book:

---

"We are all... great abbreviators, meaning that none of us has the wit to know the whole truth, the time to tell it if we believed we did, or an audience so gullible so as to accept it."

"The clearest way to see through a culture is to attend to its tools for conversation."

"The God of the Jews was to exist in the word and through the word, an unprecedented conception requiring the highest order of abstract thinking. Iconography thus became blasphemy, so that a new kind of god could enter a culture. People like ourselves who are in the process of converting their culture from word-centered to image-centered might profit by reflecting on this Mosaic conjunction. But even if I am wrong in these conjectures, it is a wise and particularly relevant supposition that the media of communication available to a culture are a dominate influence on the formation of the culture's intellectual and social preoccupations."

The best things on television are it's junk.... We do not measure a culture by its output of undisguised trivialities, but by what it claims as significant.

The River Metaphor
"I find it useful to think of the situation in this way. Changes in the symbolic environment are like changes in the natural environment: they are both gradual and additive at first, and then all at once, a critical mass is achieved... a river that has slowly been polluted, suddenly becomes toxic. Most of the fish perish. Swimming becomes a danger to health. But even then the river may look the same and one may still take a boat ride on it. In other words, even when life has been taken from it, the river does not disappear, nor do all of its uses, but its value has been seriously diminished, and its degraded condition will have harmful effects through the landscape. It is this way with our symbolic environment. We have reached I believe a critical mass in that electronic media have decisively and irreversibly changed the character of our symbolic environment. We are now a culture whose information, ideas, and epistemology are given form by the television, not by the printed word....
In the analogy I have drawn above, the river refers largely to what we call 'public discourse,' our political, religious, informational, and commercial forms of conversation. I am arguing that a television based epistemology pollutes public communication and its surrounding landscape, not that it pollutes everything...."
This resonates as truth for me. Today, the more people "swim" in the river of media and in particular politics, often the less healthy they mentally become.

"The telegraph made a three-pronged attack on typography's definition of discourse, introducing on a large scale irrelevence, impotence, and incoherence."

At the end of chapter five Postman lays out a summary of the rest of the book:
"It is my object in the rest of this book to make the epistemology of television visible again. I will try to demonstrate by concrete example that television's way of knowing is uncompromisingly hostile to typography's way of knowing, that television's conversations promote incoherence and triviality, that the phrase 'serious television' is a contradiction in terms and that television speaks in only one persistent voice, the voice of entertainment. Beyond that I will try to demonstrate that to enter the great television conversation, one great American cultural institution after another is learning to speak its terms. Television in other words is transforming our culture into one vast arena for show-business. It is entirely possible of course that in the end we shall find that delightful and decide we like it just fine. That is exactly what Aldous Huxley feared was coming, 50 years ago."

This book was written in 1985. His prophetic message has been fulfilled in 2020. Not sure what that means for the future... ( )
1 voter nrt43 | Dec 29, 2020 |
If you watch TV, and care at all about how public discourse is important to a democracy, then this book is for you. Every bit as relevant in 2015 as it was when it was first published in 1985. Actually, this may be even more relevant today with social media than it was originally when focusing only on TV. ( )
  pedstrom | Dec 22, 2020 |
I’ve never really been a TV addict. Oh, I’ve watched plenty of television fare in my time, but I’ve always been more interested in comics and books, I think, because of their permanence. TV, until the advent of the videocassette recorder, had been extremely ephemeral.

The ephemeral nature of TV, which continues even today because of its incredible volume and prevalence in society, is the basic tenet of Postman’s argument here. By its very nature, Postman says, TV is incapable of presenting true public discourse, which relies on arguments that don’t necessarily have the entertainment quotient necessary for the medium. The rest of the book expounds on this, looking at the past history of public discourse in America up to the time this book was written, which was ten years ago. In the last ten years, TV’s influence on public policy has even increased, and it would be interesting to see what Postman has to say about it now.
  engelcox | Oct 30, 2020 |
Affichage de 1-5 de 57 (suivant | tout afficher)
The dismal message of this landmark book is that, while we've kept our eye out for Orwell's world all along, we have smoothly moved into living in Huxley's. Through our own compliance, our implicit assent, and our endless desire to be entertained, we have allowed the television to behave as our soma and let happen unto us what, were it made an explicit part of the social contract, we would never have accepted. Orwell was a cartoon, while Huxley is our reality—and we don't even know it.
 
A lucid and very funny jeremiad about how public discourse has been degraded.
ajouté par ArrowStead | modifierMother Jones
 
He starts where Marshall McLuhan left off, constructing his arguments with the resources of a scholar and the wit of a raconteur.
ajouté par ArrowStead | modifierChristian Science Monitor
 
A brilliant, powerful and important book...This is a brutal indictment Postman has laid down and, so far as I can see, an irrefutable one.
ajouté par ArrowStead | modifierWashington Post Book World, Jonathan Yardley
 

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You may get a sense of what is meant by context-free information by asking yourself the following question: How often does it occur that information provided you on morning radio or television, or in the morning newspaper, causes you to alter your plans for the day, or to take some action you would not otherwise have taken, or provides insight into some problem you are required to solve?
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In this eloquent and persuasive book, Neil Postman examines the deep and broad effects of television culture on the manner in which we conduct our public affairs, on how "entertainment values" have corrupted the very way we think. As politics, news, religion, education, and commerce are given expression less and less in the form of printed or spoken words, they are rapidly being reshaped and staged to suit the requirements of television. And because television is a visual medium, whose images are most pleasurably apprehended when they are fast-moving and dynamic, discourse on television takes the form of entertainment. Television has little tolerance for argument, hypothesis, or explanation it demands performing art. Mr. Postman argues that public discourse, the advancing of arguments in logical order for the public good-once the hallmark of American culture-is being converted from exposition and explanation to entertainment.

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