neil-postman

We were keeping our eye on 1984. When the year came and the prophecy didn’t, thoughtful Americans sang softly in praise of themselves. The roots of liberal democracy had held. Wherever else the terror had happened, we, at least, had not been visited by Orwellian nightmares. But we had forgotten that alongside Orwell’s dark vision, there was another—slightly older, slightly less well known, equally chilling: Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. Contrary to common belief even among the educated, Huxley and Orwell did not prophesy the same thing. Orwell warns that we will be overcome by an externally imposed oppression. But in Huxley’s vision, no Big Brother is required to deprive people of their autonomy, maturity and history. As he saw it, people will come to love their oppression, to adore the technologies that undo their capacities to think. What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumblepuppy. As Huxley remarked in Brave New World Revisited, the civil libertarians and rationalists who are ever on the alert to oppose tyranny “failed to take into account man’s almost infinite appetite for distractions”. In 1984, Huxley added, people are controlled by inflicting pain. In Brave New World, they are controlled by inflicting pleasure. In short, Orwell feared that what we hate will ruin us. Huxley feared that what we love will ruin us. This book is about the possibility that Huxley, not Orwell, was right.
—  Neil Postman, Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business
We no longer have a coherent conception of ourselves, and our universe, and our relation to one another and our world. We no longer know, as the Middle Ages did, where we come from, and where we are going, or why. That is, we don’t know what information is relevant, and what information is irrelevant to our lives.
—  Neil Postman
But we had forgotten that alongside Orwell’s dark vision, there was another - slightly older, slightly less well known, equally chilling: Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. Contrary to common belief even among the educated, Huxley and Orwell did not prophesy the same thing. Orwell warns that we will be overcome by an externally imposed oppression. But in Huxley’s vision, no Big Brother is required to deprive people of their autonomy, maturity and history. As he saw it, people will come to love their oppression, to adore the technologies that undo their capacities to think.

What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumblepuppy. As Huxley remarked in Brave New World Revisited, the civil libertarians and rationalists who are ever on the alert to oppose tyranny “failed to take into account man’s almost infinite appetite for distractions”. In 1984, Huxley added, people are controlled by inflicting pain. In Brave New World, they are controlled by inflicting pleasure. In short, Orwell feared that what we hate will ruin us. Huxley feared that what we love will ruin us.
— 

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

An hour-long, 1998 talk by Postman on technology and society is available on YouTube (irony noted).

[We have forgotten] leisure as “non-activity” —an inner absence of preoccupation, a calm, an ability to let things go, to be quiet. Leisure is the form of that stillness that is the necessary preparation for accepting reality; only the person who is still can hear, whoever is not still cannot hear. Such stillness as this is not mere soundlessness or a dead muteness; it means, rather, that the soul’s power, as real, of responding to the real —a co-respondence, eternally established in nature— has not yet descended into words. Leisure is the disposition of receptive understanding, of contemplative beholding, and immersion -in the real.
— 

Josef Pieper, Leisure: The Basis of Culture, 1948. This sort of leisure is the prey being hunted to extinction by technology in general and the Internet specifically, and it is this leisure which permits the creation of sustaining human meaning.

Leisure, Culture, Selfhood

Pieper’s thesis, unreasonably condensed, is that our interiorization of the dynamics of capitalism and the destruction of transcendental narratives of all sorts —principally religious, but not exclusively— have together made leisure of this sort alien and incomprehensible to us. Instead of real, contemplative, open, and receptive leisure, we pursue “leisure activities” which utterly mistake the purpose of leisure and as a result fail to satisfy our deepest needs. Above all, they’re incapable of connecting us to “the real” in the world or of immersing us in “the real” in ourselves.

This lost sort of immersion, this wordless confrontation with reality, is profoundly intimate, and from it we develop authentic personal and civilizational culture (as opposed to “content”). The changes such leisure catalyzes are not easily communicable or quantitatively measurable; they are not for the curriculum vitae, the business card, or the interview, nor for the cocktail party or photo album. They do not relate to intelligence or “skills” as such, and can be experienced by any person of any class; they may incidentally correlate to characteristics we deem useful, but that correlation is emphatically not their point. Indeed, they cannot be the result of pursuit; the discovery of enduring wisdom, the achievement of awareness, the maintenance of a serene relationship with the self and the world, the sensation of joy, result from an “open” and “receptive” attitude wholly at odds with that of “self-improvement.”

Leisure in this sense is both the crucible of all durable human meaning —what Pieper calls culture— and totally without transactional, measurable, economic point. The Greeks, Romans, and pre-Industrial Revolution Western societies understood this; indeed, the Greek word for leisure, in fact, is the basis for the Latin word scola, the German schule, and the English school. And Pieper cites surprising passages from Aristotle and Plato as well as more contemporary thinkers which suggest that the connection between repose, wisdom, and culture was once clear, even if it now seems difficult to defend. (It should be added that much of Buddhism and Hinduism seem to embody this thesis as well, for example in the relationship between Theravada monks and society, or the notion of the sannyasa stage of life).

In just a few centuries, however, this idea has vanished as the values on which it depends have been replaced. What cannot be communicated and measured is now felt not to exist —if you dispute this in the arts, you likely nevertheless insist on it in matters of religion, for example— and the impossibility of exteriorizing leisure or its fruits, of conveying contemplative communion or translating it into something quantitative, condemns it to irrelevance (or worse).

Pieper apportions much of the responsibility for this to capitalism, Marxism, and the transformation of individual, sacralized labor into “work” (physical or intellectual): if the majority of a society’s activity implies certain values, members of that society adopt those values. We are our utility (this is the real meaning of ideas like “self-esteem”: what is our use to others?). We think as our economies “think”; we consume and produce as they do; and we insist on fungibility, reproducibility, and exchangeability as criteria of meaning. What is valuable must enable transactions.

Pieper could not have imagined, however, the apotheosis these market values would achieve in the technology of our age, an age of “total technology,” or what Neil Postman called “technopoly.”

Technopoly and the Self

Think of culture (both in general and the micro-culture of selfhood) as we create and experience it now, and consider Postman’s description of technopoly:

“…the culture seeks its authorization in technology, finds its satisfactions in technology, and takes its orders from technology. It does not make [non-technological forms of culture or self-hood] illegal. It does not make them immoral. It does not even make them unpopular. It makes them invisible and therefore irrelevant.”

No culture (or paradigm of selfhood) has ever taken its orders more directly from technology than ours; our music and visual arts, for example, are the result of technical specifications and network programming requirements above all else, and their forms rise and fall as quickly as industry needs. The most pure expression of a medium being the message must be the music video, a form born of technology in search of content and fatally bound to the fortunes of a defunct broadcasting model. The art, so to speak, of the hour-long drama, the animated GIF, the “interactive installation,” or the blog post is hardly different, and hardly likelier to last. 

If the tools and processes of capitalism or Marxism reduced communities to classes, creators to functionaries, makers to workers, families to consumers, our technopoly has reduced us to users and culture to media (and increasingly online content). That is to say: culture is synonymous with technology, and because we derive our sense of self from culture, so too is selfhood. Life is what can be posted; you are what can be saved and shared as data; culture is what the Internet can convey; meaning is what you perceive online.

The Medium is the Meaning

Meaning, of course, is the great problem of any human life not concerned solely with organismic survival. What is my life’s purpose? Why should I endure my hardships or enjoy my successes? Is happiness my goal, and of what does real, abiding happiness consist? Instinct is not enough, the claims of our consumer-hedonistic society notwithstanding; the satiation of urges will not sustain you through decades, even with the most exotic rotations. Generations ago, we had static, mythical sources of meaning, but no longer, and not only is there no going back to religion as a persuasive, logically-compulsory authority, authority of any sort will not again suffice. We are now democratic in both politics and epistemology.

In the absence of persuasive transcendental belief systems —God is dead, everything is permittedwe look to one another for meaning. Smeared across vast suburban landscapes, a world of diaspora, of exile from the cities in which we live but within which there are no public spaces and no neighbors, we find one another in the only space in which social interaction is still possible: online.

What do we find there? We see Facebook photos of smiling, active couples and learn that love means shared hobbies; we inattentively scan the tweeted utterance of our purported friends and learn what matters, what is important, what counts; we note the data in each other’s profiles —a person is her favorite movies, which she selects from a licensed, partial, auto-completing list, or the hashtags he includes after remarks about arbitrated trending topics— and we form a model of what it is to be a human. We follow one another on service after service, seeking amusement, beauty, some justificatory clues, hinted potentialities, signs of meaning. But our expressions of selfhood are dictated by what we can post, share, photograph, upload, link, capture. We see culture and selfhood as shaped by market forces, technology constraints, business decisions, and arbitrary software designs. No form of meaning stands apart from the technopoly and remains relevant; there is no evidence of meaning beyond those actions which can be turned into apps or pages and made to generate profit.

In the democratic capitalist technopoly, therefore, meaning is defined by forces that take no note of meaning-in-itself, reject as irrelevant everything that cannot be made into discrete, monetizable, digital units. Technology requires user actions; leisure-as-repose cannot be initiated by a click, shared, or sold. Neither, for that matter, can love, wisdom, or joy.

(Their portrayal, however, can be, and if the primary sense one has online is of a perpetual performance, a performance in which the performers do now know they’re performing and cannot stop, this is why. A perceptual world without any conceivable instantiation of subjective interiority is a world in which only what can be portrayed exists. It’s no coincidence that the rise of simulating technologies corresponds to the ascendency of appearance over essence. To take one example, this is why artists have been replaced by people who portray artists in their simulated mercuriality or their de-rigeur vices. Creative inner-struggle perhaps once drove archetypal artistic despair, but what’s inside no longer exists, so the portrayal reigns. An artist who doesn’t “act like” one isn’t one. The same is true for politicians, the beautiful, the talented, even the ordinary.

Thus: the substitution of culture’s portrayal for culture, and thus too the pervasive sense of unreality and disconnection we experience amidst what is theoretically the most informative and connective technology in history).

Flight and return

When one is away -away- from the technologies of portrayal which shape our lives -away from television, away from the electronic display, away from the status message and the news feed, one quickly begins to recover a sense of selfhood apart from speech or post. One again experiences the self without mediation, social dilution, distraction. And, if one is afforded sufficient time, and is perhaps immersed in the rhythms of the natural world, one can experience “a co-respondence, eternally established in nature… not yet descended into words… the disposition of receptive understanding, of contemplative beholding, and immersion -in the real.” One begins to emerge.

Most are familiar with this reprieve, and as well with the regret one feels as one cedes to the essentially addictive habit upon returning to the world of breaking one’s silence: a post about one’s vacation, perhaps. But worse is that most of us are now unable even to get away; should we be fortunate enough to lose the fetter of an Internet connection, we still insist on taking photographs, ostensibly to record the moment for ourselves but actually because at every step we imagine how our experience might be conveyed, portrayed, broadcast. We interiorize technology as it interiorizes the market’s emphases; we all search for what can be transacted upon, for attention or esteem or approval or money. We blink into a sunset, search for our phone’s camera, and imagine how the photo will play on the screens where our avatar lives, screens belonging to other selves whom we know only as representations.

And as networks extend their influence, it is ever-harder to experience real repose, the deep communion with reality that produces authentic meaning and enduring culture. We live in a de-cultured culture, subsumed beneath an avalanche of transitory, ephemeral, temporary meanings, soon to be buried by new posts, new photographs, new digital artifacts of those acquisitive, performative “leisure activities” which are now the primary source of meaning in our lives (and most of which, of course, cost money in one way or another).

None brings us closer to whatever is essential and unmediated, unadulterated inside of ourselves, nor to any ultimate reality; indeed, perhaps no one believes in such things any longer. But if the existence of something apart from postable, quantifiable, monetizable, digitally transmissible data is in doubt, one thing is not: the Internet is an expression of radically materialist and utilitarian values which stand in opposition to leisure as Pieper described it, and therefore to the source of culture as it existed for millennia. Even if one prefers the dynamic, competitive, addictive, temporary cultures of portrayal and enactment that prevail now, it is hard to imagine life without even the possibility of repose. Yet it is harder still to imagine how such repose could ever be possible without the sort of radical disconnection from the expanding technopoly which, perversely, is considered a turning-away from the world, rather than a return to it.

Foreword from “Amusing Ourselves To Death” by Neil Postman.

We were keeping our eye on 1984. When the year came and the prophecy didn’t, thoughtful Americans sang softly in praise of themselves. The roots of liberal democracy had held. Wherever else the terror had happened, we, at least, had not been visited by Orwellian nightmares.

But we had forgotten that alongside Orwell’s dark vision, there was another - slightly older, slightly less well known, equally chilling: Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. Contrary to common belief even among the educated, Huxley and Orwell did not prophesy the same thing. Orwell warns that we will be overcome by an externally imposed oppression. But in Huxley’s vision, no Big Brother is required to deprive people of their autonomy, maturity and history. As he saw it, people will come to love their oppression, to adore the technologies that undo their capacities to think.

What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumblepuppy. As Huxley remarked in Brave New World Revisited, the civil libertarians and rationalists who are ever on the alert to oppose tyranny “failed to take into account man’s almost infinite appetite for distractions”. In 1984, Huxley added, people are controlled by inflicting pain. In Brave New World, they are controlled by inflicting pleasure. In short, Orwell feared that what we hate will ruin us. Huxley feared that what we love will ruin us.

This book is about the possibility that Huxley, not Orwell, was right.

There was a comic of this floating around that illustrated the above passage (I found it on 9gag) but according the artists page he removed it years ago due to copyright issues, so I won’t repost it, but I think the words have impact even without the visual aids.

So while the “Orwellian nightmare” is still there, lingering in the shadows, perhaps we should be showing more concern for "Huxlian nightmare" we are currently living…

3

I asked my tumblr followers:

What book should every teacher read?

here are zwelinzima answers:

In no order,

1.) The Book of Learning and Forgetting, by Frank Smith, discusses social relevance and control

In this thought-provoking book, Frank Smith explains how schools and educational authorities systematically obstruct the powerful inherent learning abilities of children, creating handicaps that often persist through life. The author eloquently contrasts a false and fabricated “official theory” that learning is work (used to justify the external control of teachers and students through excessive regulation and massive testing) with a correct but officially suppressed “classic view” that learning is a social process that can occur naturally and continually through collaborative activities. This book will be crucial reading in a time when national authorities continue to blame teachers and students for alleged failures in education. It will help educators and parents to combat sterile attitudes toward teaching and learning and prevent current practices from doing further harm.

2.) Teaching as a Subversive Activity, by Neil Postman and Charles Weingartner, speaks, again—directly and eloquently—on liberating young minds (here is my recommendation again)

“There is no way to help a learner to be disciplined, active, and thoroughly engaged unless he perceives a problem to be a problem or whatever is to-be-learned as worth learning, and unless he plays an active role in determining the process of solution.”
Neil Postman, Teaching as a Subversive Activity

3.) Walking on Water, by Derrick Jensen, has just awesome stories with terrific lessons about asking questions (Note: I also recommend this book highly)

Walking on Water is a startling and provocative look at teaching, writing, creativity, and life by a writer increasingly recognized for his passionate and articulate critique of modern civilization. This time Derrick Jensen brings us into his classroom–whether college or maximum security prison–where he teaches writing. He reveals how schools perpetuate the great illusion that happiness lies outside of ourselves and that learning to please and submit to those in power makes us into lifelong clock-watchers. As a writing teacher Jensen guides his students out of the confines of traditional education to find their own voices, freedom, and creativity.

What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared that the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared that we would become a trivial culture.
—  Neil Postman - Amusing Ourselves to Death
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Jen Delos Reyes, “Rethinking Arts Education: On the complex terrain of arts education today and expanded ways of valuing knowledge.

Whenever someone asks for a primer on unschooling, I point to “Astra Taylor on the Unschooled Life.” From now on, when I’m asked about arts education and how I teach (not just art), one of the pointers will be this talk by Jen Delos Reyes. It’s that good and it applies beyond art school. I also love the way she weaves together video and words from others, something similar to the stitched writing that I like to do.

I’m reproducing the entire bibliography (taken from the Creative Mornings page for the talk) here because it’s so similar to the lists that I have sent to friends curious about where to begin with teaching. If you’ve been following this blog for any amount of time, you’ll recognize many of the names, titles, and topics it contains. I recommend all of these books, even the two that I have have yet to read (those from Rasberry and Repo).

  • Streetwork: The Exploding School, by Anthony Fyson and Colin Ward
  • Teaching to Transgress, by bell hooks
  • Teaching Community: A Pedagogy of Hope, by bell hooks
  • Education Automation: Comprehensive Learning for Emergent Humanity, by Buckminster Fuller
  • Talking Schools, by Colin Ward
  • Learning by Heart: Teachings to Free the Creative Spirit, by Sister Corita Kent and Jan Steward
  • The Open Classroom, by Herbert Kohl
  • Deschooling Society, by Ivan Illich
  • Why Art Can’t Be Taught, by James Elkins
  • Experience and Education, by John Dewey
  • Freedom and Beyond, by John Holt
  • Notes for an Art School, edited by Manifesta 6
  • Black Mountain: An Exploration in Community, by Martin Duberman
  • Teaching as a Subversive Activity, by Neil Postman and Charles Weingartner
  • We Make the Road by Walking, by Myles Horton and Paulo Freire
  • Education for Socially Engaged Art, by Pablo Helguera
  • Rasberry: How to Start Your Own School and Make a Book, by Sally Rasberry and Robert Greenway
  • This Book is About Schools, edited by Satu Repo
  • Art School: (Propositions for the 21st Century), edited by Steven Henry Madoff

Thank you to Nicole for pointing me to the talk!

therealsurferrosa said: Teaching as a Subversive Activity’ Postman & Weingartner. It’s why I became a teacher and, after twenty years, it’s what I wrote my dissertation around. Probably out of print now and needed more than ever!

Thanks for the suggestion. I have come past this many times and will pick it up again and read it with a new set of eyes. Both authors have really changed education for the better! Luckily, it is not out of print. There is even a Kindle version.  This book is basically a manifesto for inquiry based education.

Here is a quote:

“There is no way to help a learner to be disciplined, active, and thoroughly engaged unless he perceives a problem to be a problem or whatever is to-be-learned as worth learning, and unless he plays an active role in determining the process of solution.”
Neil Postman, Teaching as a Subversive Activity

this quote perfectly defines the basic ideas of inquiry based education.

-Adventures in Learning

Television is altering the meaning of “being informed” by creating a species of information that might properly be called disinformation. Disinformation does not mean false information. It means misleading information - misplaced, irrelevant, fragmented or superficial information - information that creates the illusion of knowing something, but which in fact leads one away from knowing
—  Neil Postman

Gerçeğe Dönüşen Distopya

Neil Postman’dan Distopyalar Arası Bir Karşılaştırma: Televizyon Öldüren Eğlence

Yirminci yüzyılın en önemli distopya eserlerinden ikisini, George Orwell‘in kaleme aldığı 1984 (Nineteen Eighty-Four) veAldous Huxley‘nin Cesur Yeni Dünya (Brave New World) eserlerini bugün yan yana koyup inceleseydik nasıl bir sonuç çıkartırdık?


Neil Postman 1985 yılında – Orwell’in öngördüğü distopya kurgusunun geçtiği tarihin tam da bir yıl sonrasında – böylesi bir entelektüel çabaya girişti ve geç yirminci yüzyılın esansının Huxley tarafından daha isabetli bir biçimde tahayyül edildiği sonucuna vardı.

Bu distopyaların hangisinin günümüzdeki vaziyete ilişkin daha doğru tahminler yürüttüğü tartışmasına girmeden, Neil Postman’ın eserinden yararlanılarak Stuart McMillen tarafından tasarlanan görselin Türkçe’ye çevrilmiş halini yayınlıyoruz.



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“Well, the worst images are of people who are overloaded with information which they don’t know what to do with, have no sense of what is relevant, what is irrelevant.  People who become information junkies."  Neil Postman talking with Charlene Hunter Gault about the consequences of an information culture, July 25, 1995.

So I have this Research Report for English.

The topic of this Research Report is:

Does the United States reflect the ways of the Athenians, or the ways of the Visigoths?

Before we could even start making a thesis statement for this report, my English gives us a speech written by social critic Neil Postman. In his speech he explains who the Athenians and the Visigoths were.

The Athenians made great contributions to the world. They were the first people to develop a complete alphabet. They invented the idea of political democracy. The invented logic and rhetoric. They invented the Olympics. They invented ecology. These people did so much for mankind. They believed in reason, beauty, and moderation. Without the Athenians, I would be pretty much impossible for us to speak on any subject without repeating what some Athenian said over 2,500 years ago.

To be an Athenian is:

  • to hold knowledge.
  • to contemplate
  • to reason
  • to experiment
  • to question
  • to understand that the thread which holds civilized society together is thin and vulnerable
  • to take an interest in public affairs and the improvement of public behavior
  • to esteem the discipline, skill, and taste that are required to produce induring art.

The Visigoths, on the other hand, were pretty much the opposite. They were marauders–ruthless and brutal. Their language lacked subtlety and depth. Their art was crude and grotesque. The Visigoths had no poetry, no theatre, no logic, no science, and no humane politics. A modern Visigoth think of themselves as the center of the universe. They are only interested in their own affairs and have no sense of the meaning of community. To a Visigoth, there is no measure of artistic excellence except popularity.

So the big question is:

Are we Athenians or Visigoths?

I think the United States is both, but I can only choose one for my Research Report.

This has nothing to do with the United states, but people in general have changed a lot since Athenians were around over 2,500 years ago. Many people have become selfish and rude. Many are conceited and only care about themselves. Many people don’t understand that “the thread which holds civilized society together is thin and vulnerable.” Many people are becoming monsters.

However, there are still people out there that have Athenian qualities. It’s just that a majority of the people on Earth are starting to become like the Visigoths. I think that realization needs to hit these “Visigoths” and make them realize that they aren’t the center of the world. We have trillions of people on this Earth, so the world shouldn’t revolve around them.

So when these people begin to realize that there is more to life than just themselves, the world can make a change for the good. Then the world would be a better place.

So as for this report, I still don’t know what to do, but hopefully, I will find out soon! (I hope)

(so thank you to everyone who actually read this whole post…and sorry if it was dull and boring! haha :P)

What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egotism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance.
—  Neil Postman

Está claro que decir que la televisión es entretenimiento constituye algo banal. Este hecho difícilmente puede considerarse una amenaza para nuestra cultura, ni siquiera vale la pena escribir un libro sobre ello. El problema no es que la televisión nos dé material y temas de entretenimiento, sino que nos presenta todos los asuntos como entretenimiento, lo que es una cuestión diferente. Para decirlo de otra manera, el entretenimiento es la “supraideología” de todo el discurso sobre la televisión.

Imbuida en el marco surrealista de un noticiario de la televisión, se encuentra una teoría de la anticomunicación que refleja un tipo de discurso ajeno a la lógica, la razón, la coherencia y el principio de contradicción. Creo que en estética el nombre que se da a esta teoría es dadaísmo; en filosofía, nihilismo; en psiquiatría, esquizofrenia. En la jerga teatral, se denomina vodevil. Lo que pasa aquí es que la televisión está alterando el significado de la expresión “estar informado”, al crear un tipo de información que, para ser más exactos, habría que llamar “desinformación”. La desinformación no significa información falsa sino engañosa, equívoca, irrelevante, fragmentaria o superficial. Información que crea la ilusión de que sabemos algo, pero que de hecho nos aparta del conocimiento. La ignorancia es siempre corregible, pero ¿qué pasaría con nosotros si llegáramos a aceptar que la ignorancia es conocimiento?

—  Neil Postman (Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business, 1985)