Neil Postman, Technopoly, and Amusing Ourselves to Death

Profesor Neil Postman

Professor Neil Postman

“Books, for example, are an excellent container for the accumulation, quiet scrutiny and organized analysis of information and ideas. It takes time to write a book, and to read one; time to discuss its contents and to make judgments about their merit, including the form of their presentation. A book is an attempt to make thought permanent and to contribute to the great conversation conducted by authors of the past. Therefore, civilized people everywhere consider the burning of a book a vile form of anti-intellectualism.” ~ Neil Postman, “Amusing Ourselves to Death”

“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”

See: Neil Postman – Amusing ourselves to death –

See: Neil Postman – Amusing ourselves to death –

VIDEO – Are We Amusing Ourselves to Death? Part I –

VIDEO – Are We Amusing Ourselves to Death? Part II –

VIDEO – Neil Postman’s Conscientious Objections –

Neil Postman’s Conscientious Objections –


“The Technopoly story is without a moral center. It puts in its place efficiency, interest, and economic advance. It promises heaven on earth through the conveniences of technological progress. It casts aside all traditional narratives and symbols that suggest stability and orderliness, and tells, instead, of a life of skills, technical expertise, and the ecstasy of consumption.” ~ Neil Postman, “Technopoly”

Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology, by Neil Postman –

Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology, by Neil Postman (.pdf) –

VIDEO – Book TV: Neil Postman, “Technopoly” –

VIDEO – BookTV – Neil Postman, “Technopoly” (FULL)  –

VIDEO – Neil Postman – technology is no substitute for human values –

Neil Postman

Professor Postman talked about his book, Building a Bridge to the 18th Century: How the Past Can Improve Our Future, published by Knopf. He focused on current societal problems that could be resolved in large part by looking to the philosophers and cultural tradition of the enlightenment period of the eighteenth century. After his prepared remarks he answered questions from the audience.

VIDEO – Book TV: Neil Postman – Building a Bridge to the 18th Century: How the Past Can Improve Our Future –

VIDEO – Neil Postman on what is lacking in schools –

VIDEO – Neil Postman – PBS Currents (Literacy Lost) –

See: Neil Postman – The Disappearance of Childhood –

“In my last little bit of babble for today, I’ve just been clued in on an interesting book Neil Postman wrote back in 1994 called The Disappearance of Childhood.  I’m familiar with Postman’s witty and post-modern philosophical works, having read Amusing Ourselves to Death and The End of Education quite a few years ago.  Oddly, this gem slipped past me.  The basic premise is that the concept of childhood is not really a biological reality, but instead a social construct.  Postman explains that our ideas of childhood actually began with the invention of the printing press, and that our current ideas of “adulthood” began when literacy became commonplace for the masses.  In other words, the older folk had access to all of the information and chose to give it to children in certain spurts.  School became ultimately important at this point.  In typical Postman fashion, he makes lofty statements and sometimes leaves ideas undersupported, but I find this entirely intriguing.  In the days gone by, looking at pictures of children actually shows kids dressing like adults and vice versa.  The division between adults and kids began when all adults had the capacity to digest media and read.  Kids began dressing like kids, and a huge division took place.  This was written years ago, but it becomes possibly more astute when looking at how media literacy is shortening that divide in today’s society.  Adults and kids dress more alike these days, and kids are experiencing “adult” things at a much more rapid and open pace than just two or three decades ago.  Because children a more socially literate and “see” things more rapidly than in the past, according to Postman, we’re jumping backwards to where this line gets blurred.”


CM Capture 2

VIDEO – Google Glass raises privacy concerns –

VIDEO – Google Glass PSA: Don’t be a Glasshole –

About ajmacdonaldjr

writer, author, blogger
This entry was posted in Culture, Entertainment, Ethics, Government, history, Journalism, Literary Theory, Media, Mind Control, Philosophy, Politics, Press, propaganda, Psychology, Publishing, Religion, Science, Society, Symbolism, Technology, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Neil Postman, Technopoly, and Amusing Ourselves to Death

  1. Pingback: We are the most conditioned, programmed beings the world has ever known. |

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s