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 A New Book Warning About Danger of the Ignorance of Americans

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futureshock

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PostSubject: A New Book Warning About Danger of the Ignorance of Americans   Sun Mar 30, 2008 8:53 pm

Here is an excerpt:

Quote :
THE AGE OF AMERICAN UNREASON

This impassioned, tough-minded work of contemporary history paints a disturbing portrait of a mutant strain of public ignorance, anti-rationalism, and anti-intellectualism that has developed over the past four decades and now threatens the future of American democracy.
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Erulissë



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PostSubject: Re: A New Book Warning About Danger of the Ignorance of Americans   Sun Mar 30, 2008 11:35 pm

I think that is great, and I think I will check that book out of the library and write her a fan letter.


Quote :
The mirroring process extends far beyond political language, which has always existed at a certain remove from colloquial speech. The toxin of commercially standardized speech now stocks the private vault of words and images we draw on to think about and to describe everything from the ridiculous to the sublime. One of the most frequently butchered sentences on television programs, for instance, is the incomparable Liberace's cynically funny, "I cried all the way to the bank"—a line he trotted out whenever serious critics lambasted his candelabra-lit performances as kitsch. The witty observation has been transformed into the senseless catchphrase, "I laughed all the way to the bank"—often used as a non sequitur after news stories about lottery winners. In their dual role as creators of public language and as microphones amplifying and disseminating the language many American already use in their daily lives, the media constitute a perpetuum mobile, the perfect example of a machine in which cause and effect can never be separated. A sports broadcaster, speaking of an athlete who just signed a multiyear, multimillion dollar contract says, "He laughed all the way to the bank." A child idly listening—perhaps playing a video game on a computer at the same time—absorbs the meaningless statement without thinking and repeats it, spreading it to others who might one day be interviewed on television and say, "I laughed all the way to the bank," thereby thereby transmitting the virus to new listeners. It is all reminiscent of the exchange among Alice, the March Hare, and the Mad Hatter in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. “Then you should say what you mean,” the March Hare tells Alice. “I do,” Alice hastily replied; “at least—at least I mean what I say—that’s the same thing, you know.” The Hatter chimes in, “Not the same thing a bit! Why, you might just as well say that `I see what I eat’ is the same thing as `I eat what I see.’” In an ignorant and anti-intellectual culture, people eat mainly what they see.


© 2008 Susan Jacoby
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