Over the holidays I found myself reading Charles P. Pierce’s “Idiot America: How Stupidity Became a Virtue in the Land of the Free” and found a number of points of resonance with Neil Postman’s “Amusing Ourselves to Death”, though in somewhat more colourful language:
“’Television is an emotional medium,’ Cline explains. ‘It doesn’t do reason well. This is entertainment, not analysis or reasoned discourse. Never employ a tightly reasoned argument where a flaming sound bite will do. The argument of the academic is sort of dull, but a good pissing match is fun to watch.'”
“But his views on the subject are better known than those of someone doing the actual research, who, alas, likely is not as gifted a broadcaster as he is.”
“Everything is entertainment now”
“The potent narcotic of reassuring simplicity.”
This gets me thinking about cultural shifts. The transition of culture from modernity to postmodernity broughts us many intellectual critiques of intellectualism, highlighting the limits of logic and the need for cognitive humility. Over time however I think popular culture has pendulum swung into anti-intellectualism and arrogant emotionalism, a kind of romanticism on steroids. Holism still proves elusive.