March 21, 2013


 If there is one thing I love more than food it's books. What's your favorite book?

For Valentine's Day I bought CJ East of Eden because I knew he hadn't read it and it's one of my favorites. I can't wait to read it again because I feel like I missed a lot the first time. I decided that I'm going to give him a book every Valentine's Day (and maybe something else too if we have any money) and once we have kids I want to give them a book for Valentine's Day, too.

CJ and I have often talked about what we want our home to be like and how we want to raise our kids. One of the things that is most important to me is that my home is full of good books. I have always loved reading and one of my favorite things to do as a kid and now is to lose myself in a book for a couple of days...The fact that I know my mother loves to read has had a huge impact on me. I want my kids to know that I love to read, and that I love it because I love learning, discovering, exploring, and imagination.

In my communications class we have been talking about the "price we pay" for certain media. The price we pay, as a society, for television. The price society paid way way back in the day for literacy. The price we pay for a society that is bombarding us with images. Anyway, one of the chapters in my textbook is completely devoted to two top communications scholars going at it in intellectual discussion: TV vs print, and the price we pay for both. One of these scholars is Neil Postman (he's the pro-book one) and I've LOVED reading his scholarship. He is a cultural critic and he does not mince words when it comes to the price we pay for all the images and media we indulge ourselves in on a daily basis. (Like blogs, for example. I'm a hypocrite.)

Anyway, Postman has reaffirmed my commitment to make sure that reading takes over my home instead of mindless media and new technology. He is a genius. If you are familiar with 1984 and Brave New World (Dad), you should definitely read and think about this quote. Even if you don't know those books you should still read it. I know I am probably shooting this blog post in the foot by including such an enormous quote but...I'm okay with that.

Is Postman right? Has our society been reduced to passivity and egoism? Do we adore the technologies that undo our capacities to think?

“We were keeping our eye on 1984. When the year came and the prophecy didn't, thoughtful Americans sang softly in praise of themselves. The roots of liberal democracy had held. Wherever else the terror had happened, we, at least, had not been visited by Orwellian nightmares.

But we had forgotten that alongside Orwell's dark vision, there was another - slightly older, slightly less well known, equally chilling: Aldous Huxley's Brave New World. Contrary to common belief even among the educated, Huxley and Orwell did not prophesy the same thing. Orwell warns that we will be overcome by an externally imposed oppression. But in Huxley's vision, no Big Brother is required to deprive people of their autonomy, maturity and history. As he saw it, people will come to love their oppression, to adore the technologies that undo their capacities to think.

What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumblepuppy. As Huxley remarked in Brave New World Revisited, the civil libertarians and rationalists who are ever on the alert to oppose tyranny "failed to take into account man's almost infinite appetite for distractions". In 1984, Huxley added, people are controlled by inflicting pain. In Brave New World, they are controlled by inflicting pleasure. In short, Orwell feared that what we hate will ruin us. Huxley feared that what we love will ruin us.

This book is about the possibility that Huxley, not Orwell, was right.”

-Neil Postman, taken from his book, Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business

P.S. Here's an awkward picture of me and CJ and books. BIBLE.

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