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Televisions Grip on the Mind of America - Essay Example

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Very few people can name all (or many) of the following people who have considerable power over their lives: the President; the two Senators who represent their state; the Representative for their district; the governor of their state; the mayor of their city…
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Televisions Grip on the Mind of America

Download file to see previous pages... Neil Postman rightly identifies the iron grip that the television has on minds throughout American society.
Perhaps the fundamental reason for television's power is the way in which it has given "an exquisite and dangerous perfection" to the "epistemological biases of the telegraph and instancy." The telegraph brought bits of information directly to the consumer, without giving that information any sort of context, any sort of reason why that information was significant. The significance was in the novelty, or in the entertainment value. The instancy of the photograph relieves the mind of having to imagine, or even having to pay a lot of attention. An idea can be summarized, remembered, ingrained in the form of a picture. Combining the two, making a slogan with a picture, simultaneously places an idea an image in the mind. This increases the power of the idea, and gives a visual source of memory associated with that idea for the mind to clutch tightly.
Another characteristic of television concomitant to this simultaneity of thought and vision is the power of speed. The telegraph took the "line-by-line, sequential, continuous form of the printed page" and reduced it to a "world of fragments and discontinuities." The photograph takes a reality that can present ideas to the mind and reduces them down to particular examples. ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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