Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Amusing Ourselves to Death Discussion

For those who cannot make it to our discussion group, yet would like to follow along as much as possible, I will post study questions from the book Amusing Ourselves to Death.

(Note that all page number refer to the original edition.)

1.      AOD was first published in 1985. Who was the president at that time? What was the cultural mood?

2.      Postman refers back to two novels which imagined the future of our civilization. What are they?

3.      What was Orwell’s vision of the future?

4.      What was Huxley’s vision of the future?

5.      Postman’s book lends its support to which vision?

Chapter 1
1.      Postman’s book focuses on the forms of human conversation and argues that “how we are obliged to conduct such conversations will have the strongest possible influence on what ideas we can conveniently express. And what ideas are convenient to express inevitably become the important content of a culture” (6). Do you find this initially plausible? Why or why not?

2.      Where did Postman first get the idea that “forms of media favor particular kinds of content and are therefore capable of taking command of a culture” (9)?

3.      Postman suggests that perhaps Moses should have added the commandment, “Thou shalt not make mechanical representations of time” (12). Why is it significant to our Christian view of communication that Moses did not include such a command?

4.      What does Postman mean by saying that “a medium is a metaphor” (10-14)?

5.      Do you believe Postman when he says, “We do not see nature or intelligence or human motivation or ideology as ‘it’ is but only as our languages are. And our languages are our media. Our media are our metaphors. Our metaphors create the content of our culture” (15)?

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