Neil Postman’s, “Media as Epistemology
” Changes in the symbolic environment are like changes in the natural environment; they are both gradual and additive at first, and then all at once, a crucial mass is achieved”(pg.27)
Literally: By the words “symbolic environment” Postman is referring to the situation in which everything relating to our culture is changing. Like the natural environment when changes like this occur the symptoms show slowly but surely until a specific point is reached. Postman believes that the point has been reached and our culture, information, ideas and epistemology have gone from bring transmitted through printed text to the television.
Intellectually: In looking at this quote I have to say that I agree with Postman’s claim, in the world today it seems as if printed text has taken a backseat to television and other forms of technology. A person can find out nearly everything they need to know about anything without having to crack open a book. It seems as though printed word is on its way out and soon not even schools will be able to preserve it.
Emotionally: It saddens me to see television and other technologies are taking the place of written word. Future generations probably won’t get to experience the feeling of accomplishment to have learned something from actually sitting down and reading a book. They wont to experience reading a sentence and finding a connection to real life or past experiences and having those words reside with them and later remembering them randomly in the future. There will be nothing but pictures on a tv screen or words on a computer screen thinking for us which will be gone the moment we change the channel or click the button.
Relationally: Postman’s argument our epistemology is being affected and changed by the mode in which we have access to it. Television and other technologies are transmitting our ideas, culture and technology and even changing our values and what we view to be the truth. Postman basically questioning of the trade-offs are worth it, we may be gaining many things in this change that is occurring but are the things we are losing worth it? This quote fits in the text because it brings the reader to the main point of Postman’s argument it is the transition from talking about the course of history from oral culture to print text and finally to television.
Donald Murray, “Internal Revision”
“The terror of the empty page is real, because you simply do not know what you are going to say before you say it or in indeed if you will have anything to say”(pg.80)
Literally: The quote is explaining the difficulty in being a writer from the moment that a blank page is present in front of us. All writer’s do not have everything their going to say clearly in their minds, that’s why it is so hard to start at times you may not have any idea what you want to say or how to express it. Sometimes you may go to write and feel as if you have nothing to say or everything has been said already and any comment you make may be redundant. This quote expresses what it’s like when a person has writer’s block.
Intellectually: Honestly, I agree with Murray entirely on his belief, as writers people automatically assume that we have all the answers and writing and publishing is just a matter of putting pen to paper. When we write our first drafts half the time the things we write can make absolutely no sense to anyone else but ourselves. The real writing begins when we have time to go over, reflect and revise what you have written then the real text begins to take shape.
Emotionally: I feel like its a relief to not be held to this idea that as a writer I must know everything and be able to express it effectively. Writer’s have the most difficult jobs because it involves a lot of time and effort thinking, revising and communicating to an audience.
Relationally: This quote was appropriate for this text because it related to Murray’s main point revision is an important part of writing and it involves two individual phases. Internal revision when the writer begins to discover and understand what it is that their writing themselves and External revising when the writer then has to relay the message to the audience. Internal revision is a writer’s battle to sort out ideas in a way that makes sense.
Lewis Mumford, “The Automation of Knowledge”
“The new machine was man-but only a fictional man writ large. The new man was the machine- or what was left of the machine-writ small”(pg.265)
Literally: The quote is referring to the machine as becoming like a person that no longer requires man to operate or control it and man as becoming like the early machines dependent on the “new man” to function and control them.
Intellectually: When reflecting upon this quote I feel as if it is completely correct, man is developing the inability to function or think for himself without the use of machines or technology. In this I begin to wonder if mankind will ever get back to being self-reliant investing the effort to do things and gain knowledge on their own without the assistance of machines.
Emotionally: I feel that machines have taken control of human beings leaving us dazed and amazed by the accuracy and rapidity in which we are able to complete tasks. We as humans are willingly giving up the functions and other things that make us worth anything to machines. Soon human life will be looked at as having lesser value and being more of a hassle than involving a machine to do the same work.
Relationally: The quote fits well with the passage because it gives the reader a sense of the bigger picture in the text. Machines are dominating our civilizations in every way shape and form. It controls the information we have access to and even our knowledge to the point where man is dependent on machines, not the other way around.