Amusing Ourselves to Death


Neil Postman

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Themes and Colors
Form and Content Theme Icon
Typography vs. Image Theme Icon
The History of Public Discourse and Media Theme Icon
News and Entertainment Theme Icon
Progress, Prediction, and the Unforeseen Future Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Amusing Ourselves to Death, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.
Typography vs. Image Theme Icon

The fundamental tension in Postman’s account is the opposition between typography, or print, and the image (as in a photograph or on a television screen). This tension is fundamental to Postman’s argument largely because (he claims) it is this opposition between print and image which is at the heart of the transition occurring in American discourse and culture at the time of his writing.

America, once highly literate and dependent on print-based forms of communication—including, in Postman’s account, books, pamphlets, and public lecture and debate—has now become a culture of the image. Newspapers feature photographs alongside headlines, thus translating news and journalism into an image-centric format. Even more importantly, television has become so central in American culture that it has dominated and overcome print culture.

Postman is often bold about choosing sides in the historical confrontation between print and image. He believes cultures of the image are degraded, less capable of reason, and less politically engaged than cultures of print media. His book then seeks to expose the ways in which television and other image media (like photography) have changed the way Americans understand, behave, believe and even think—and for the most part, Postman argues that these new forms of thought, belief, and understanding are inferior to those of the past.

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Typography vs. Image ThemeTracker

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Typography vs. Image Quotes in Amusing Ourselves to Death

Below you will find the important quotes in Amusing Ourselves to Death related to the theme of Typography vs. Image.
Chapter 2 Quotes

Like the fish who survive a toxic river and the boatmen who sail on it, there still dwell among us those whose sense of things is largely influenced by older and clearer waters…

Page Number: 28
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Chapter 3 Quotes

The only communication event that could produce such collective attention in today's America is the Superbowl.

Related Symbols: Thomas Paine’s Common Sense
Page Number: 35
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When Charles Dickens visited America in 1842, his reception equaled the adulation we offer today to television stars, quarter- backs, and Michael Jackson…

Page Number: 39
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Chapter 4 Quotes

The use of language as a means of complex argument was an important, pleasurable and common form of discourse in almost every public arena…

Page Number: 47
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Chapter 5 Quotes

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

Page Number: 65
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To the telegraph, intelligence meant knowing of lots of things, not knowing about them…

Page Number: 70
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Chapter 6 Quotes

At the end, one could only applaud those performances, which is what a good television program always aims to achieve; that is to say, applause, not reflection.

Page Number: 91
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Had Irving Berlin changed one word in the title of his celebrated song [There’s No Business like Show Business], he would have been as prophetic, albeit more terse, as Aldous Huxley. He need only have written, There's No Business But Show Business.

Related Characters: Aldous Huxley
Page Number: 98
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Chapter 9 Quotes

The television commercial is not at all about the character of products to be consumed. It is about the character of the consumers of products.

Page Number: 126
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