Quotes

  1. Where the will to power is paramount love will be lacking.
    Carl Jung
  2. Trust is the foundation of intimacy. When lies arose trust, genuine connection cannot take place.
    bell hooks
  3. As Xenophanes remarked twenty-five centuries ago, men always make their gods in their own image. But to this, television politics has added a new wrinkle: Those who would be gods refashion themselves into images the viewers would have them be.
    Neil Postman
  4. It is an argument that fixes its attention on the forms of human conversation, and postulates that how we are obliged to conduct such conversations will have the strongest possible influence on what ideas we can conveniently express. And what ideas are convenient to express inevitably become the important content of a culture.
    Neil Postman
  5. The principal strength of the telegraph was its capacity to move information, not collect it, explain it or analyze it. In this respect, telegraphy was the exact opposite of typography. Books, for example, are an excellent container for the accumulation, quiet scrutiny and organized analysis of information and ideas. It takes time to write a book, and to read one; time to discuss its contents and to make judgments about their merit, including the form of their presentation. A book is an attempt to make thought permanent and to contribute to the great conversation conducted by authors of the past. Therefore, civilized people everywhere consider the burning of a book a vile form of anti-intellectualism. But the telegraph demands that we burn its contents. The value of telegraphy is undermined by applying the tests of permanence, continuity or coherence. The telegraph is suited only to the flashing of messages, each to be quickly replaced by a more up-to-date message. Facts push other facts into and then out of consciousness at speeds that neither permit nor require evaluation.
    Neil Postman
  6. That is why even on news shows which provide us daily with fragments of tragedy and barbarism, we are urged by the newscasters to “join them tomorrow.” What for?
    Neil Postman
  7. … the clearest way to see through a culture is to attend to its tools for conversation.
    Neil Postman
  8. Although the Bible makes no mention of it, the Reverend Graham assured the audience that God loves those who make people laugh. It was an honest mistake. He merely mistook NBC for God.
    Neil Postman
  9. What the advertiser needs to know is not what is right about the product but what is wrong about the buyer. And so, the balance of business expenditures shifts from product research to market research.
    Neil Postman
  10. Thus, a central thesis of computer technology—that the principal difficulty we have in solving problems stems from insufficient data—will go unexamined. Until, years from now, when it will be noticed that the massive collection and speed-of-light retrieval of data have been of great value to large-scale organizations but have solved very little of importance to most people and have created at least as many problems for them as they may have solved.
    Neil Postman
  11. 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
  12. There is no great religious leader—from the Buddha to Moses to Jesus to Mohammed to Luther—who offered people what they want. Only what they need. But television is not well suited to offering people what they need. It is “user friendly.”
    Neil Postman
  13. For example, it would have been excusable in 1905 for us to be unprepared for the cultural changes the automobile would bring. Who could have suspected then that the automobile would tell us how we were to conduct our social and sexual lives? Would reorient our ideas about what to do with our forests and cities? Would create new ways of expressing our personal identity and social standing?
    Neil Postman
  14. Just as a television commercial will use an athlete, an actor, a musician, a novelist, a scientist or a countess to speak for the virtues of a product in no way within their domain of expertise, television also frees politicians from the limited field of their own expertise. Political figures may show up anywhere, at any time, doing anything, without being thought odd, presumptuous, or in any way out of place. Which is to say, they have become assimilated into the general television culture as celebrities.
    Neil Postman
  15. Each medium, like language itself, makes possible a unique mode of discourse by providing a new orientation for thought, for expression, for sensibility.
    Neil Postman
  16. It may be of some interest to note, in this connection, that the crossword puzzle became a popular form of diversion in America at just that point when the telegraph and the photograph had achieved the transformation of news from functional information to decontextualized fact. This coincidence suggests that the new technologies had turned the age-old problem of information on its head: Where people once sought information to manage the real contexts of their lives, now they had to invent contexts in which otherwise useless information might be put to some apparent use. The crossword puzzle is one such pseudo-context; the cocktail party is another; the radio quiz shows of the 1930’s and 1940’s and the modern television game show are still others; and the ultimate, perhaps, is the wildly successful “Trivial Pursuit.” In one form or another, each of these supplies an answer to the question, “What am I to do with all these disconnected facts?” And in one form or another, the, answer is the same: Why not use them for diversion? for entertainment? to amuse yourself, in a game?
    Neil Postman
  17. Advertising was, as Stephen Douglas said in another context, intended to appeal to understanding, not to passions.
    Neil Postman
  18. “What do you mean when you say … ?” or “From what sources does your information come?” This type of discourse not only slows down the tempo of the show but creates the impression of uncertainty or lack of finish. It tends to reveal people in theact of thinking, which is as disconcerting and boring on television as it is on a Las Vegas stage.
    Neil Postman
  19. “The clock,” Mumford has concluded, “is a piece of power machinery whose ‘product’ is seconds and minutes.” In manufacturing such a product, the clock has the effect of disassociating time from human events and thus nourishes the belief in an independent world of mathematically measurable sequences. Moment to moment, it turns out, is not God’s conception, or nature’s. It is man conversing with himself about and through a piece of machinery he created.
    Neil Postman
  20. … as Mumford points out, with the invention of the clock, Eternity ceased to serve as the measure and focus of human events.
    Neil Postman
  21. If politics is like show business, then the idea is not to pursue excellence, clarity or honesty but to appear as if you are, which is another matter altogether.
    Neil Postman
  22. “We Americans seem to know everything about the last twenty-four hours but very little of the last sixty centuries or the last sixty years.” Terence Moran, I believe, lands on the target in saying that with media whose structure is biased toward furnishing images and fragments, we are deprived of access to an historical perspective. In the absence of continuity and context, he says, “bits of information cannot be integrated into an intelligent and consistent whole.”
    Neil Postman
  23. It is naive to suppose that something that has been expressed in one form can be expressed in another without significantly changing its meaning, texture or value. Much prose translates fairly well from one language to another, but we know that poetry does not; we may get a rough idea of the sense of a translated poem but usually everything else is lost, especially that which makes it an object of beauty. The translation makes it into something it was not. To take another example: We may find it convenient to send a condolence card to a bereaved friend, but we delude ourselves if we believe that our card conveys the same meaning as our broken and whispered words when we are present. The card not only changes the words but eliminates the context from which the words take their meaning. Similarly, we delude ourselves if we believe that most everything a teacher normally does can be replicated with greater efficiency by a micro-computer. Perhaps some things can, but there is always the question, What is lost in the translation? The answer may even be: Everything that is significant about education.
    Neil Postman
  24. But the Founding Fathers did not foresee that tyranny by government might be superseded by another sort of problem altogether, namely, the corporate state, which through television now controls the flow of public discourse in America.
    Neil Postman
  25. But what is happening in America is not the design of an articulated ideology. No Mein Kampf or Communist Manifesto announced its coming. It comes as the unintended consequence of a dramatic change in our modes of public conversation. But it is an ideology nonetheless, for it imposes a way of life, a set of relations among people and ideas, about which there has been no consensus, no discussion and no opposition. Only compliance. Public consciousness has not yet assimilated the point that technology is ideology.
    Neil Postman
  26. The God of the Jews was to exist in the Word and through the Word, an unprecedented conception requiring the highest order of abstract thinking.
    Neil Postman
  27. Both the history and the ever-present possibilities of the television screen work against the idea that introspection or spiritual transcendence is desirable in its presence. The television screen wants you to remember that its imagery is always available for your amusement and pleasure.
    Neil Postman
  28. … that television’s conversations promote incoherence and triviality; that the phrase “serious television” is a contradiction in terms; and that television speaks in only one persistent voice—the voice of entertainment. Beyond that, I will try to demonstrate that to enter the great television conversation, one American cultural institution after another is learning to speak its terms. Television, in other words, is transforming our culture into one vast arena for show business. It is entirely possible, of course, that in the end we shall find that delightful, and decide we like it just fine. That is exactly what Aldous Huxley feared was coming, fifty years ago.
    Neil Postman
  29. But what I am claiming here is not that television is entertaining but that it has made entertainment itself the natural format for the representation of all experience.
    Neil Postman
  30. There is no more disturbing consequence of the electronic and graphic revolution than this: that the world as given to us through television seems natural, not bizarre.
    Neil Postman
  31. Moreover, television offers viewers a variety of subject matter, requires minimal skills to comprehend it, and is largely aimed at emotional gratification.
    Neil Postman
  32. The commandments are as follows:

    Thou shalt have no prerequisites

    Every television program must be a complete package in itself. No previous knowledge is to be required. There must not be even a hint that learning is hierarchical, that it is an edifice constructed on a foundation. The learner must be allowed to enter at any point without prejudice. This is why you shall never hear or see a television program begin with the caution that if the viewer has not seen the previous programs, this one will be meaningless. Television is a nongraded curriculum and excludes no viewer for any reason, at any time. In other words, in doing away with the idea of sequence and continuity in education, television undermines the idea that sequence and continuity have anything to do with thought itself.

    Thou shalt induce no perplexity

    In television teaching, perplexity is a superhighway to low ratings. A perplexed learner is a learner who will turn to another station. This means that there must be nothing that has to be remembered, studied, applied or, worst of all, endured. It is assumed that any information, story or idea can be made immediately accessible, since the contentment, not the growth, of the learner is paramount.

    Thou shalt avoid exposition like the ten plagues visited upon Egypt

    Of all the enemies of television-teaching, including continuity and perplexity, none is more formidable than exposition. Arguments, hypotheses, discussions, reasons, refutations or any of the traditional instruments of reasoned discourse turn television into radio or, worse, third-rate printed matter. Thus, television-teaching always takes the form of story-telling, conducted through dynamic images and supported by music. This is as characteristic of “Star Trek” as it is of “Cosmos,” of “Different Strokes” as of “Sesame Street,” of commercials as of “Nova.” Nothing will be taught on television that cannot be both visualized and placed in a theatrical context. The name we may properly give to an education without prerequisites, perplexity and exposition is entertainment.

    Neil Postman
  33. Cultures without speed-of-light media—let us say, cultures in which smoke signals are the most efficient space-conquering tool available—do not have news of the day. Without a medium to create its form, the news of the day does not exist.
    Neil Postman
  34. All of this has occurred simultaneously with the decline of America’s moral and political prestige, worldwide. American television programs are in demand not because America is loved but because American television is loved.
    Neil Postman
  35. For example, a person who has seen one million television commercials might well believe that all political problems have fast solutions through simple measures—or ought to.
    Neil Postman
  36. …(by age sixty-five, a person will have spent twelve uninterrupted years in front of the TV).
    Andrew Postman
  37. …this book is an inquiry into and a lamentation about the most significant American cultural fact of the second half of the twentieth century: the decline of the Age of Typography and the ascendancy of the Age of Television. This change-over has dramatically and irreversibly shifted the content and meaning of public discourse, since two media so vastly different cannot accommodate the same ideas. As the influence of print wanes, the content of politics, religion, education, and anything else that comprises public business must change and be recast in terms that are most suitable to television.
    Neil Postman
  38. One may also assume that what is called “computer literacy” does not involve raising questions about the cognitive biases and social effects of the computer, which, I would venture, are the most important questions to address about new technologies.
    Neil Postman
  39. Walter Lippmann, for example, wrote in 1920: “There can be no liberty for a community which lacks the means by which to detect lies.” For all of his pessimism about the possibilities of restoring an eighteenth- and nineteenth-century level of public discourse, Lippmann assumed, as did Thomas Jefferson before him, that with a well-trained press functioning as a lie-detector, the public’s interest in a President’s mangling of the truth would be piqued, in both senses of that word. Given the means to detect lies, he believed, the public could not be indifferent to their consequences.
    Neil Postman
  40. The historian Carl Schorske has, in my opinion, circled closer to the truth by noting that the modern mind has grown indifferent to history because history has become useless to it; in other words, it is not obstinacy or ignorance but a sense of irrelevance that leads to the diminution of history.
    Neil Postman
  41. …the major educational enterprise now being undertaken in the United States is not happening in its classrooms but in the home, in front of the television set, and under the jurisdiction not of school administrators and teachers but of network executives and entertainers. I don’t mean to imply that the situation is a result of a conspiracy or even that those who control television want this responsibility. I mean only to say that, like the alphabet or the printing press, television has by its power to control the time, attention and cognitive habits of our youth gained the power to control their education. This is why I think it accurate to call television a curriculum. As I understand the word, a curriculum is a specially constructed information system whose purpose is to influence, teach, train or cultivate the mind and character of youth. Television, of course, does exactly that, and does it relentlessly. In so doing, it competes successfully with the school curriculum. By which I mean, it damn near obliterates it.
    Neil Postman
  42. There are two ways by which the spirit of a culture may be shriveled. In the first—the Orwellian—culture becomes a prison. In the second—the Huxleyan—culture becomes a burlesque.
    Neil Postman
  43. … our tools for thought suggest to us what our bodies are like, as when someone refers to her “biological clock,” or when we talk of our “genetic codes,” or when we read someone’s face like a book, or when our facial expressions telegraph our intentions.
    Neil Postman
  44. In the Huxleyan prophecy, Big Brother does not watch us, by his choice. We watch him, by ours.
    Neil Postman
  45. To the telegraph, intelligence meant knowing of lots of things, not knowing about them.
    Neil Postman
  46. … the concept of truth is intimately linked to the biases of forms of expression.
    Neil Postman
  47. … a more significant legacy of the telegraph and the photograph may be the pseudo-context. A pseudo-context is a structure invented to give fragmented and irrelevant information a seeming use. But the use the pseudo-context provides is not action, or problem-solving, or change. It is the only use left for information with no genuine connection to our lives. And that, of course, is to amuse. The pseudo-context is the last refuge, so to say, of a culture overwhelmed by irrelevance, incoherence, and impotence.
    Neil Postman
  48. In 1986, soon after the book was published and had started to make ripples, Dad was on ABC’s Nightline, discussing with Ted Koppel the effect TV can have on society if we let it control us, rather than vice versa. As I recall, at one juncture, to illustrate his point that our brief attention span and our appetite for feel-good content can short-circuit any meaningful discourse, Dad said, “For example, Ted, we’re having an important discussion about the culture but in thirty seconds we’ll have to break for a commercial to sell cars or toothpaste.” Mr. Koppel, one of the rare serious figures on network television, smiled wryly—or was it fatigue? “Actually, Dr. Postman,” he said, “it’s more like ten seconds.”
    Andrew Postman
  49. An American who has reached the age of forty will have seen well over one million television commercials in his or her lifetime, and has close to another million to go before the first Social Security check arrives.
    Neil Postman
  50. … telegraphy did something that Morse did not foresee when he prophesied that telegraphy would make “one neighborhood of the whole country.” It destroyed the prevailing definition of information, and in doing so gave a new meaning to public discourse. Among the few who understood this consequence was Henry David Thoreau, who remarked in Walden that “We are in great haste to construct a magnetic telegraph from Maine to Texas; but Maine and Texas, it may be, have nothing important to communicate…. We are eager to tunnel under the Atlantic and bring the old world some weeks nearer to the new; but perchance the first news that will leak through into the broad flapping American ear will be that Princess Adelaide has the whooping cough.”
    Neil Postman
  51. For in the end, he was trying to tell us that what afflicted the people in Brave New World was not that they were laughing instead of thinking, but that they did not know what they were laughing about and why they had stopped thinking.
    Neil Postman
  52. … capitalism, like science and liberal democracy, was an outgrowth of the Enlightenment. Its principal theorists, even its most prosperous practitioners, believed capitalism to be based on the idea that both buyer and seller are sufficiently mature, well informed and reasonable to engage in transactions of mutual self-interest.
    Neil Postman
  53. … we do not measure a culture by its output of undisguised trivialities but by what it claims as significant. Therein is our problem, for television is at its most trivial and, therefore, most dangerous when its aspirations are high, when it presents itself as a carrier of important cultural conversations.
    Neil Postman
  54. In watching American television, one is reminded of George Bernard Shaw’s remark on his first seeing the glittering neon signs of Broadway and 42nd Street at night. It must be beautiful, he said, if you cannot read.
    Neil Postman
  55. It has been demonstrated many times that a culture can survive misinformation and false opinion. It has not yet been demonstrated whether a culture can survive if it takes the measure of the world in twenty-two minutes. Or if the value of its news is determined by the number of laughs it provides.
    Neil Postman
  56. Typography assisted in the growth of the nation-state but thereby made patriotism into a sordid if not lethal emotion.
    Neil Postman
  57. I wondered then, as so many others have, as to why the God of these people would have included instructions on how they were to symbolize, or not symbolize, their experience. It is a strange injunction to include as part of an ethical system unless its author assumed a connection between forms of human communication and the quality of a culture.
    Neil Postman
  58. As other newspapers join in the transformation, the time cannot be far off when awards will be given for the best investigative sentence.
    Neil Postman
  59. As I suggested earlier, it is implausible to imagine that anyone like our twenty-seventh President, the multi-chinned, three-hundred-pound William Howard Taft, could be put forward as a presidential candidate in today’s world. The shape of a man’s body is largely irrelevant to the shape of his ideas when he is addressing a public in writing or on the radio or, for that matter, in smoke signals. But it is quite relevant on television. The grossness of a three-hundred-pound image, even a talking one, would easily overwhelm any logical or spiritual subtleties conveyed by speech. For on television, discourse is conducted largely through visual imagery, which is to say that television gives us a conversation in images, not words. The emergence of the image-manager in the political arena and the concomitant decline of the speech writer attest to the fact that television demands a different kind of content from other media. You cannot do political philosophy on television. Its form works against the content.
    Neil Postman
  60. By endowing things with magic, enchantment is the means through which we may gain access to sacredness. Entertainment is the means through which we distance ourselves from it.
    Neil Postman
  61. There can be no liberty for a community which lacks the means by which to detect lies.
    Walter Lippmann
  62. Television is the new state religion run by a private Ministry of Culture (the three networks), offering a universal curriculum for all people, financed by a form of hidden taxation without representation. You pay when you wash, not when you watch, and whether or not you care to watch.
    George Gerbner television
  63. What steps do you plan to take to reduce the conflict in the Middle East? Or the rates of inflation, crime and unemployment? What are your plans for preserving the environment or reducing the risk of nuclear war? What do you plan to do about NATO, OPEC, the CIA, affirmative action, and the monstrous treatment of the Baha’is in Iran? I shall take the liberty of answering for you: You plan to do nothing about them. You may, of course, cast a ballot for someone who claims to have some plans, as well as the power to act. But this you can do only once every two or four years by giving one hour of your time, hardly a satisfying means of expressing the broad range of opinions you hold. Voting, we might even say, is the next to last refuge of the politically impotent. The last refuge is, of course, giving your opinion to a pollster, who will get a version of it through a desiccated question, and then will submerge it in a Niagara of similar opinions, and convert them into—what else?—another piece of news. Thus, we have here a great loop of impotence: The news elicits from you a variety of opinions about which you can do nothing except to offer them as more news, about which you can do nothing.
    Neil Postman
  64. In a peculiar way, the photograph was the perfect complement to the flood of telegraphic news-from-nowhere that threatened to submerge readers in a sea of facts from unknown places about strangers with unknown faces. For the photograph gave a concrete reality to the strange-sounding datelines, and attached faces to the unknown names. Thus it provided the illusion, at least, that “the news” had a connection to something within one’s sensory experience. It created an apparent context for the “news of the day.” And the “news of the day” created a context for the photograph.
    Neil Postman
  65. And our languages are our media. Our media are our metaphors. Our metaphors create the content of our culture.
    Neil Postman
  66. America is, in fact, the leading case in point of what may be thought of as the third great crisis in Western education. The first occurred in the fifth century B.C., when Athens underwent a change from an oral culture to an alphabet-writing culture. To understand what this meant, we must read Plato. The second occurred in the sixteenth century, when Europe underwent a radical transformation as a result of the printing press. To understand what this meant, we must read John Locke. The third is happening now, in America, as a result of the electronic revolution, particularly the invention of television. To understand what this means, we must read Marshall McLuhan.
    Neil Postman
  67. An Orwellian world is much easier to recognize, and to oppose, than a Huxleyan. Everything in our background has prepared us to know and resist a prison when the gates begin to close around us. We are not likely, for example, to be indifferent to the voices of the Sakharovs and the Timmermans and the Walesas. We take arms against such a sea of troubles, buttressed by the spirit of Milton, Bacon, Voltaire, Goethe and Jefferson. But what if there are no cries of anguish to be heard? Who is prepared to take arms against a sea of amusements? To whom do we complain, and when, and in what tone of voice, when serious discourse dissolves into giggles? What is the antidote to a culture’s being drained by laughter?
    Neil Postman
  68. I believe, a wise and particularly relevant supposition that the media of communication available to a culture are a dominant influence on the formation of the culture’s intellectual and social preoccupations.
    Neil Postman
  69. … ensemble of electronic techniques called into being a new world—a peek-a-boo world, where now this event, now that, pops into view for a moment, then vanishes again. It is a world without much coherence or sense; a world that does not ask us, indeed, does not permit us to do anything; a world that is, like the child’s game of peek-a-boo, entirely self-contained. But like peek-a-boo, it is also endlessly entertaining.
    Neil Postman
  70. Liberation cannot be accomplished by turning [television] off. Television is for most people the most attractive thing going any time of the day or night. We live in a world in which the vast majority will not turn off. If we don’t get the message from the tube, we get it through other people.
    George Gerbner
  71. Tyrants of all varieties have always known about the value of providing the masses with amusements as a means of pacifying discontent. But most of them could not have even hoped for a situation in which the masses would ignore that which does not amuse. That is why tyrants have always relied, and still do, on censorship. Censorship, after all, is the tribute tyrants pay to the assumption that a public knows the difference between serious discourse and entertainment—and cares. How delighted would be all the kings, czars and führers of the past (and commissars of the present) to know that censorship is not a necessity when all political discourse takes the form of a jest.
    Neil Postman
  72. Our politics, religion, news, athletics, education and commerce have been transformed into congenial adjuncts of show business, largely without protest or even much popular notice. The result is that we are a people on the verge of amusing ourselves to death.
    Neil Postman
  73. Think of Richard Nixon or Jimmy Carter or Billy Graham, or even Albert Einstein, and what will come to your mind is an image, a picture of a face, most likely a face on a television screen (in Einstein’s case, a photograph of a face). Of words, almost nothing will come to mind. This is the difference between thinking in a word-centered culture and thinking in an image-centered culture.
    Neil Postman
  74. … the idea that the value of information need not be tied to any function it might serve in social and political decision-making and action, but may attach merely to its novelty, interest, and curiosity. The telegraph made information into a commodity, a “thing” that could be bought and sold irrespective of its uses or meaning.
    Neil Postman
  75. By substituting images for claims, the pictorial commercial made emotional appeal, not tests of truth, the basis of consumer decisions.
    Neil Postman
  76. A sixty-second commercial is prolix; thirty seconds is longer than most; fifteen to twenty seconds is about average. This is a brash and startling structure for communication since, as I remarked earlier, the commercial always addresses itself to the psychological needs of the viewer. Thus it is not merely therapy. It is instant therapy. Indeed, it puts forward a psychological theory of unique axioms: The commercial asks us to believe that all problems are solvable, that they are solvable fast, and that they are solvable fast through the interventions of technology, techniques and chemistry. This is, of course, a preposterous theory about the roots of discontent, and would appear so to anyone hearing or reading it.
    Neil Postman
  77. …the phenomenon whereby the reporting of a horrific event—a rape or a five-alarm fire or global warming—is followed immediately by the anchor’s cheerfully exclaiming “Now … this,” which segues into a story about Janet Jackson’s exposed nipple or a commercial for lite beer, creating a sequencing of information so random, so disparate in scale and value, as to be incoherent, even psychotic.
    Andrew Postman
  78. We are all, as Huxley says someplace, Great Abbreviators, meaning that none of us has the wit to know the whole truth, the time to tell it if we believed we did, or an audience so gullible as to accept it.
    Neil Postman
  79. The problem is not that television presents us with entertaining subject matter but that all subject matter is presented as entertaining, which is another issue altogether.
    Neil Postman
  80. For most of us, news of the weather will sometimes have such consequences ; for investors, news of the stock market; perhaps an occasional story about a crime will do it, if by chance the crime occurred near where you live or involved someone you know. But most of our daily news is inert, consisting of information that gives us something to talk about but cannot lead to any meaningful action. This fact is the principal legacy of the telegraph: By generating an abundance of irrelevant information, it dramatically altered what may be called the “information-action ratio.”
    Neil Postman
  81. … photograph presents the world as object; language, the world as idea.
    Neil Postman
  82. But ventriloquism, dancing and mime do not play well on radio, just as sustained, complex talk does not play well on television.
    Neil Postman
  83. Politics, he tells him, is the greatest spectator sport in America. In 1966, Ronald Reagan used a different metaphor. “Politics,” he said, “is just like show business.”
    Neil Postman
  84. I should go so far as to say that embedded in the surrealistic frame of a television news show is a theory of anti-communication, featuring a type of discourse that abandons logic, reason, sequence and rules of contradiction. In aesthetics, I believe the name given to this theory is Dadaism; in philosophy, nihilism; in psychiatry, schizophrenia. In the parlance of the theater, it is known as vaudeville.
    Neil Postman
  85. It was not long until the fortunes of newspapers came to depend not on the quality or utility of the news they provided, but on how much, from what distances, and at what speed. James Bennett of the New York Herald boasted that in the first week of 1848, his paper contained 79,000 words of telegraphic content —of what relevance to his readers, he didn’t say. Only four years after Morse opened the nation’s first telegraph line on May 24, 1844, the Associated Press was founded, and news from nowhere, addressed to no one in particular, began to criss-cross the nation. Wars, crimes, crashes, fires, floods—much of it the social and political equivalent of Adelaide’s whooping cough—became the content of what people called “the news of the day.”
    Neil Postman
  86. “And that,” put in the Director sententiously, “that is the secret of happiness and virtue—liking what you’ve got to do. All conditioning aims at that: making people like their unescapable social destiny.”
    Aldous Huxley
  87. ‘A man grows old; he feels in himself that radical sense of weakness, of listlessness, of discomfort, which accompanies the advance of age; and, feeling thus, imagines himself merely sick, lulling his fears with the notion that this distressing condition is due to some particular cause, from which, as from an illness, he hopes to recover. Vain imaginings! That sickness is old age; and a horrible disease it is. They say that it is the fear of death and of what comes after death that makes men turn to religion as they advance in years. But my own experience has given me the conviction that, quite apart from any such terrors or imaginings, the religious sentiment tends to develop as we grow older; to develop because, as the passions grow calm, as the fancy and sensibilities are less excited and less excitable, our reason becomes less troubled in its working, less obscured by the images, desires and distractions, in which it used to be absorbed; whereupon God emerges as from behind a cloud; our soul feels, sees, turns towards the source of all light; turns naturally and inevitably; for now that all that gave to the world of sensations its life and charms has begun to leak away from us, now that phenomenal existence is no more bolstered up by impressions from within or from without, we feel the need to lean on something that abides, something that will never play us false—a reality, an absolute and everlasting truth. Yes, we inevitably turn to God; for this religious sentiment is of its nature so pure, so delightful to the soul that experiences it, that it makes up us for all our other losses.’
    Aldous Huxley
  88. “…‘You can only be independent of God while you’ve got youth and prosperity; independence won’t take you safely to the end.’ Well, we’ve now got youth and prosperity right up to the end. What follows? Evidently, that we can be independent of God. ‘The religious sentiment will compensate us for all our losses.’ But there aren’t any losses for us to compensate; religious sentiment is superfluous. And why should we go hunting for a substitute for youthful desires, when youthful desires never fail? A substitute for distractions, when we go on enjoying all the old fooleries to the very last? What need have we of repose when our minds and bodies continue to delight in activity? of consolation, when we have soma? of something immovable, when there is the social order?”
    Aldous Huxley
  89. Bernard gave his orders in the sharp, rather arrogant and even offensive tone of one who does not feel himself too secure in his superiority.
    Aldous Huxley
  90. “…Beauty’s attractive, and we don’t want people to be attracted by old things. We want them to like the new ones.” “But the new ones are so stupid and horrible. Those plays, where there’s nothing but helicopters flying about and you feel the people kissing.”
    Aldous Huxley
  91. …copulation and the feelies. What more can they ask for? True,” he added, “they might ask for shorter hours. And of course we could give them shorter hours. Technically, it would be perfectly simple to reduce all lower-caste working hours to three or four a day. But would they be any the happier for that? No, they wouldn’t. The experiment was tried, more than a century and a half ago. The whole of Ireland was put on to the four-hour day. What was the result? Unrest and a large increase in the consumption of soma; that was all.
    Aldous Huxley
  92. The mockery made him feel an outsider; and feeling an outsider he behaved like one, which increased the prejudice against him and intensified the contempt and hostility aroused by his physical defects.
    Aldous Huxley
  93. “But chastity means passion, chastity means neurasthenia. And passion and neurasthenia mean instability. And instability means the end of civilization. You can’t have a lasting civilization without plenty of pleasant vices.”
    Aldous Huxley
  94. “Because our world is not the same as Othello’s world. You can’t make flivvers without steel—and you can’t make tragedies without social instability. The world’s stable now. People are happy; they get what they want, and they never want what they can’t get. They’re well off; they’re safe; they’re never ill; they’re not afraid of death; they’re blissfully ignorant of passion and old age; they’re plagued with no mothers or fathers; they’ve got no wives, or children, or lovers to feel strongly about; they’re so conditioned that they practically can’t help behaving as they ought to behave. And if anything should go wrong, there’s soma…”
    Aldous Huxley
  95. …that the goal was somewhere beyond, somewhere outside the present human sphere; that the purpose of life was not the maintenance of well-being, but some intensification and refining of consciousness, some enlargement of knowledge.
    Aldous Huxley
  96. The value of time. — Time means a lot to me because, you see, I, too, am also a learner and am often lost in the joy of forever developing and simplifying. If you love life, don’t waste time, for time is what life is made up of.
    Bruce Lee
  97. Fear vs. awareness. — The enemy of development is this pain phobia — the unwillingness to do a tiny bit of suffering. As you feel unpleasant you interrupt the continuum of awareness and you become phobic — so therapeutically speaking we continue to grow by means of integrating awareness/attention.
    Bruce Lee
  98. Emotions are both positive and negative. — Realizing that my emotions are both Positive and negative, I will form daily Habits which will encourage the development of the positive emotions and aid me in converting the negative emotions into some form of useful action.
    Bruce Lee
  99. Pliability is life. — Be pliable. When a man is living, he is soft and pliable; when he is dead, he becomes rigid. Pliability is life; rigidity is death, whether one speaks of man’s body, his mind, or his spirit.
    Bruce Lee
  100. To express in freedom. — To express yourself in freedom, you must die to everything of yesterday. If you follow the classical pattern, you’re not understanding the routines, the traditions; you are not understanding yourself.
    Bruce Lee
  101. The function and duty of a human being. — The function and duty of a human being, a “quality” human being, that is, is the sincere and honest development of potential and self-actualization. One additional comment: the energy from within and the physical strength from your body can guide you toward accomplishing your purpose in life — and to actually act on actualizing your duty to yourself.
    Bruce Lee
  102. To me, I have no other self (not to mention thought) than the oneness of things of which I was aware at that moment.
    Bruce Lee
  103. The sacred journey is taken alone. — Each man must seek out realization himself. No master can give it to him.
    Bruce Lee
  104. The way of yin-yang. — When one wishes to expand, one must first contract. When one wishes to be strong, one must first be weak. When one wishes to take, one must first give. Everything in this world has the alternative of existence and nonexistence (positive and negative).
    Bruce Lee
  105. An intelligent mind is constantly learning. — An intelligent mind is one which is constantly learning, never concluding — styles and patterns have come to conclusion, therefore they [have] ceased to be intelligent. An intelligent mind is an inquiring mind. — An intelligent mind is an INQUIRING mind. It is not satisfied with explanations, with conclusions; nor is it a mind that believes, because belief is again another form of conclusion.
    Bruce Lee
  106. We are capable of much more. — The fact [is] that we live only on such a small percentage of our potential: - You do not allow yourself to be totally yourself - Society does not allow you to be totally yourself.
    Bruce Lee
  107. On the therapeutic benefits of jogging. — Jogging is not only a form of exercise to me, it is also a form of relaxation. It is my own hour every morning when I can be alone with my thoughts.
    Bruce Lee
  108. Character is the form of the soul. — Character is to the soul what outward appearance is to the body. A man’s genuineness and refinement should not reveal themselves directly; they should express themselves only indirectly as an effect from within.
    Bruce Lee
  109. Remove the dirt of preconceived opinion. — Scratch away all the dirt our being has accumulated and reveal reality in its s-ness or in its suchness, or in its nakedness, which corresponds to the Buddhist concept of emptiness.
    Bruce Lee
  110. On past, present, and future. — My friend, do think of the past in terms of those memories of events and accomplishments which were pleasant, rewarding, and satisfying. The present? Well, think of it in terms of challenges and opportunities, and the rewards available for the application of your talents and energies. As for the future, that is a time and a place where every worthy ambition you possess is within your grasp.
    Bruce Lee
  111. A five-step process to formulating ideas - Gather materials. - Masticate the facts. - Relax and drop the whole subject. - Be ready to recognize and welcome the idea when it comes. - Shape and develop your idea into usefulness.
    Bruce Lee
  112. Don’t neglect life by worrying about death. — I don’t know what is the meaning of death, but I am not afraid to die — and I go on, non-stop, going forward [with life]. Even though I, Bruce Lee, may die some day without fulfilling all of my ambitions, I will have no regrets. I did what I wanted to do and what I’ve done, I’ve done with sincerity and to the best of my ability. You can’t expect much more from life.
    Bruce Lee
  113. The spiritual force transcends all. — I feel I have this great creative and spiritual force within me that is greater than faith, greater than ambition, greater than confidence, greater than determination, greater than vision. It is all these combined. My brain becomes magnetized with this dominating force which I hold in my hand.
    Bruce Lee
  114. Simple pleasures. I like light rain. It gives one such a sense of calmness and tranquillity. I enjoy walking in the rain. But most of all, I like books. I read all types of books — fiction and nonfiction.
    Bruce Lee
  115. To live now you must die to yesterday. — To understand and live now, there must be dying to everything of yesterday. Die continually to every newly gained experience—be in a state of choiceless awareness of WHAT IS.
    Bruce Lee
  116. Do not start from a conclusion. — To understand, surely, there must be a state of choiceless awareness in which there is no sense of comparison or condemnation, no waiting for a further development of the thing we are talking about in order to agree or disagree — don’t start from a conclusion above all.
    Bruce Lee
  117. On diet. — Only eat what your body requires, and don’t [become] carried away with foods that don’t benefit you.
    Bruce Lee
  118. Dualism vs. monism. — The dualistic philosophy reigned supreme in Europe, dominating the development of Western science. But with the advent of atomic physics, findings based on demonstrable experiment were seen to negate the dualistic theory, and the trend of thought since then has been back toward the monistic conception of the ancient Taoists.
    Bruce Lee
  119. Self-knowledge involves relationship. — To know oneself is to study oneself in action with another person. Relationship is a process of self-revelation. Relationship is the mirror in which you discover yourself — to be is to be related.
    Bruce Lee
  120. Try not to offend. — I’ll not willingly offend, nor be easily offended.
    Bruce Lee
  121. An idea emotionalized becomes physical. — Any idea that is constantly held in the mind and emotionalized, begins at once to clothe itself in the most convenient and appropriate physical form that is available.
    Bruce Lee
  122. The root of concentration. — Concentration is the ROOT of all the higher abilities in man.

    Bruce Lee
  123. One’s perspective on truth changes with change. — Because I am a changing as well as an ever-growing man, thus what I hold true a couple of months ago might not be the same now.
    Bruce Lee
  124. The necessity for acting on our beliefs. — Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do.
    Bruce Lee
  125. The goal of a human being. — The human goal: to actualize oneself.
    Bruce Lee
  126. The law of non-interference with nature. — The law of non-interference with nature is a basic principle of Taoism [stating] that one should be in harmony with, not rebellion against, the fundamental laws of the universe. Preserve yourself by following the natural bends of things and don’t interfere. Remember never to assert your self against nature; never be in frontal opposition to any problems, but to control it by swinging with it.
    Bruce Lee
  127. subconscious mind. — Recognizing the influence of my subconscious mind over my power of will, I shall take care to submit to it a clear and definite picture of my Major Purpose in life and all minor purposes leading to my major purpose, and I shall keep this picture constantly before my subconscious mind by repeating it daily!
    Bruce Lee
  128. All thought is partial. — All thought is partial, it can never be total. Thought is the response of memory, and memory is always partial, because memory is the result of experience; so thought is the reaction of a mind which is conditioned by experience
    Bruce Lee
  129. The aim of the self-willed man is growth. — A self-willed man has no other aim than his own growth. He values only one thing, the mysterious power in himself which bids him live and helps him to grow. His only living destiny is the silent, unsayable law in his own heart, which comfortable habits make it so hard to obey but which to the self-willed man is destiny and godhead.
    Bruce Lee
  130. Being in the Now. — Listen. Can you hear the wind? And can you hear the birds singing? You have to HEAR IT. Empty your mind. You know how water fills a cup? It BECOMES that cup. You have to think about nothing. You have to BECOME nothing.
    Bruce Lee
  131. You are the commander of your mind. — I’ve always been buffeted by circumstances because I thought of myself as a human being [affected by] outside conditioning. Now I realize that I am the power that commands the feeling of my mind and from which circumstances grow.
    Bruce Lee
  132. Maturity vs. maturing. — There is no such word as “maturity.” Rather: maturing. Because when there is a maturity, there is a conclusion and a cessation. That’s “the end.” That’s when the coffin is closed.
    Bruce Lee
  133. Ignorance is blind. — Those who are unaware they are walking in darkness will never seek the light.
    Bruce Lee
  134. On the need to remember. — Remembrance is the only paradise out of which we cannot be driven away. Pleasure is the flower that fades, remembrance is the lasting perfume. Remembrances last longer than present realities; I have preserved blossoms for many years, but never fruits.
    Bruce Lee
  135. To stand on the outside and try to look inside is futile; whatever was there will go away. This also applies to a nebulous thing described as “Happiness.” To try to identify it is like turning on a light to look at darkness. Analyze it, and it is gone.
    Bruce Lee
  136. The individual is more important than the system. — The individual is of first importance, not the system. Remember that man created method and not that method created man, and do not strain yourself in twisting into someone’s preconceived pattern, which unquestionably would be appropriate for him, but not necessarily for you.
    Bruce Lee
  137. Admitting mistakes. — Mistakes are always forgivable, if one has the courage to admit them.
    Bruce Lee
  138. life is best to be lived — not to be conceptualized. If you have to think, you still do not understand.
    Bruce Lee
  139. On organized religion. — I have no religion whatsoever. I believe that life is a process and that man is a self-made product. The spirit of the individual is determined by his dominating thought habits.
    Bruce Lee
  140. Love and respect. — Without respect, love cannot go long.
    Bruce Lee
  141. The reward of doing. — The doer alone learns.
    Bruce Lee
  142. Shame is fear of humiliation. — Shame is fear of humiliation at one’s inferior status in the estimation of others.
    Bruce Lee
  143. Experiencing is believing. — A fat belly cannot believe that such a thing as hunger exists.
    Bruce Lee
  144. Enjoy yourself. — Remember my friend to enjoy your planning as well as your accomplishment, for life is too short for negative energy.
    Bruce Lee
  145. Four idea principles. — The four idea principles are: - Find a human need, an unsolved problem - Master all of the essentials of the problem - Give a new “twist” to an old principle - Believe in your idea — and act!
    Bruce Lee
  146. We must approach the book as cultural therapy, as indispensable ingredient in communal diet, necessary for maintenance of civilized values as opposed to tribal values.
    Marshall McLuhan
  147. If our schools are not working and democratic principles are losing their force, that has nothing to do with insufficient information.
    Neil Postman
  148. In the nineteenth century, Nietzsche put the matter in a brutal light by arguing that reason is a kind of linguistic illusion, that good and evil, are equally, illusionary, and there is nothing but one’s will and power to realize one’s will. In other words, there is no difference between the sentences “I want to do this” and “I have a right to do this”.
    Neil Postman
  149. The Internet is not a “truth” medium, it is an information medium.
    Neil Postman
  150. Think, for example, of how words “community” and “conversation” are now employed by those who use the Internet. I have the impression that “community” is now used to mean, simply, people with similar interests, a considerable change from an older meaning: A community is made up if people which may not have similar interests but who must negotiate and resolve their differences for the sake of social harmony… As to “conversation”, two (or more) people typing messages to each other are engaged in activity quite different from what is usually called a conversation.
    Neil Postman
  151. These ideas - that people create meanings by the names they use, and we are free to rejects the names that are given - are central to language education, and are one’s principal source of defense against a culture in which propaganda is the largest industry.
    Neil Postman
  152. We need technology to live, as we need food to live. But, of course, if we eat too much food, or eat food that has no nutritional value, or eat food that is infected with disease, we turn a means of survival into its opposite. The same may be said of our technology. Not a single philosopher would dispute that technology may be life-enhancing or life-diminishing. Common sense commands us to ask, Which is it?
    Neil Postman
  153. Childhood was invented in the seventeenth century. In the eighteenth, it began to assume the form with which we are familiar. In the twentieth century, childhood began to unravel, and by the twenty first, may be lost altogether - unless there is some serious interest in retaining it.
    Neil Postman
  154. The opposite of a correct statement is an incorrect statement, but the opposite of a profound truth is another profound truth.
    Niels Bohr
  155. We have been left with the idea that progress is neither natural nor embedded in the structure of history; that is to say, it is not nature’s business or history. It is our business. No one believes, or perhaps ever will again, that history itself is moving inexorably toward a golden age (Editor: it seem that this idea is already partly forgotten, mostly because of our ignorance). The idea that we must make our own future, bend history to our own will, is, of course, frightening and captures the sense of Nietzsche’s ominous remark that God is dead. We have all become existentialists, which lays upon us responsibilities that once were shared by God and history.
    Neil Postman
  156. What is there (Editor: XX century) to find - the principle of indeterminacy? Nietzsche’s arguments for the death of God? Freud’s insistence that reason is merely a servant of the genitalia? The idea that language is utterly incapable of providing accurate maps of reality?
    Neil Postman
  157. Knowledge is the quest, not a commodity; what we thing we know comes out of what we ones thought we knew; what we will know in the future may make a hash of what we now believe.
    Neil Postman
  158. Here, then, is motley multitude with intellectual wants to be supplied. These new votaries of the pleasure of the mind have not all had the same education; they are not guided by the same lights, do not resemble their own fathers; and they themselves are changing every moment with changing place of residence, feelings, and fortune. So there are no traditions, or common habits, to forge links between their minds, and they have neither the power nor the wish nor the time to come to common understanding. But it is from this heterogeneous, stirring crowd that authors spring, and from it they must win profit and renown.
    Alexis de Tocqueville
  159. Let us not turn to the eighteenth century in order to copy the institutions she fashioned for herself but in order that we may better understand what suits us. Let us look there for instructions rather than models. Let us adopt principles rather than details.
    Neil Postman
  160. To forget our mistakes is bad. But to forget our successes may be worth.
    Neil Postman
  161. Bacon is the first to claim that the principle end of scientific work was to advance the “happiness of mankind”. He continually criticized his predecessors for failing to understand that the real, legitimate, and only goal of the sciences is the “endowment of human life with new inventions and riches”.
    Neil Postman
  162. Whatever else we bring into the new century, we will certainly feature the greatest array of propagandistic techniques in the history of humankind.
    Neil Postman
  163. Information was not thought of as a commodity to be sold. It had no separate existence, as it does in our age, specifically, it was not thought to be worthwhile unless it was embedded in a context, unless it gave shape, texture, or authority to a political, social, or scientific concept, which itself was required to fit into some world-view.
    Neil Postman
  164. “Radical historicism” claims that there are no ultimate truths, especially moral truths: that there is no transcendent authority to which we may appeal for a final answer to a question, Is this right or wrong thing to do?
    Neil Postman
  165. “In Defense of Poetry”, he (Editor: Perry Shelley) made the arguments that explained why Reason itself was insufficient to produce humane progress. Indeed, when science and technology claim to provide ethical imperatives, we are lead into moral catastrophe… It is only through love, tenderness, and beauty, he wrote, that the mind is made receptive to the moral decency, and poetry is the means by which love, tenderness, and beat are best cultivated. It is the poetic imagination, not scientific accomplishment, that is the engine of moral progress… Thus, the “heaven city” that the eighteenth-century rationalists dreamed of is not reachable through reason alone… Progress is the business of the heart, not the intellect.
    Neil Postman
  166. Children are neither black tablets nor budding plants. They are markets; that is to say, consumers whose needs for products roughly the same as the needs of adults… The point is that childhood, if it can be said to exist at all, is now an economic category. There is very little the culture wants to do for their children except to make them into consumers.
    Neil Postman
  167. One did not give information to make another “informed”. One gave information to make another do something or feel something, and the doing and feeling were themselves part of a larger idea. Information was rhetorical instrument, and this idea did not greatly change until the mid-nineteenth century.
    Neil Postman
  168. What does Lord require of thee but do justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with The God.
    prophet Micah
  169. One can have the clearest and most complete knowledge of what is and yet not be able to deduce from that what should be the goal of our human aspirations. Objective knowledge provides us with powerful instruments for the achievement of certain ends, but the ultimate goal itself and longing to reach it must come from another source.
    Albert Einstein
  170. Was it inevitable that by 1995 American children would be watching 5,000 hours of television before entering the first grade, 19,000 hours by high school’s end, and by age twenty would have seen 600,000 television commercials?
    Neil Postman
  171. The intention of the Holy Spirit is to teach how one goes to heaven, not how heaves goes.
    Galileo Galilei
  172. Technology, as Paul Goodman once remarked, is a branch of moral philosophy, not of science; which suggests that advise that comes from people who have little or no philosophical perspective is likely to be arid if not dangerous.
    Neil Postman
  173. As we proceed into a postmodern world, we are bereft of a narrative that can provide courage and optimism; we are facing what Václav Havel and others have called “a crisis in narrative”. Old gods have fallen, either wounded or dead. New ones have been aborted. “We are looking”, he said, “for the new scientific recipes, new ideologies, new control systems, new institutions”. In other words, we seeks new narratives to provide us with “an elementary sense of justice, the ability to see things as others do, a sense of transcendental responsibility, archetypal wisdom, good taste, courage, compassion, and faith”.
    Neil Postman
  174. It is enough to say that if Diderot, Adam Smith, and Jefferson had lived through, they could not possibly have believed in the friendly flow of history.
    Neil Postman
  175. I mean by wisdom the capacity to know what body of knowledge is relevant to the solution of significant problems. Knowledge is only organized information. It is self-contained, confined to a single system of information about the world. One can have a great deal of knowledge about the world but entirely lack wisdom. That is frequently the case with scientists, politicians, entrepreneurs, academics, even theologians.
    Neil Postman
  176. Skepticism is the principal legacy of the Enlightenment. There is nothing more profound to do than to carry that legacy forward by making and effort at conveying it to our young.
    Neil Postman
  177. Newspapers purpose, in general, was to create a cosmopolitan citizenship, informed about the best ideas and most recent knowledge of the time.
    Neil Postman
  178. These subjects are about the relationship between language and reality; they are about differences between kind of statements, about the nature of propaganda, about the ways in which we search for truths, and just about everything else one needs to know in order to use language in a disciplined way and to know when others aren’t.
    Neil Postman
  179. When one has knowledge, one knows how to relate information to one’s life, and, especially knows when information is irrelevant.
    Neil Postman
  180. I write for those who are still searching for a way to confront the future, a way that faces reality as it is, that is connected to a humane tradition, that provides sane authority and meaningful purpose… Where should we look for such a way? Well, of course, one turns first to the wisdom of the sages, both near and far. Marcus Aurelius said, “At every action, no matter by whom preferred, make it a practice to ask yourself, ‘What is his object in doing this?’ But begin with yourself; out this question to yourself first of all. ” Goethe told us, “One should, each day, try to hear a little song, read a good poem, see a fine picture, and, if possible, speak a few reasonable words.” Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living. ” Rabbi Hillel said, “What is hateful to thee, do not do to another.” The prophet Micah: “What does Lord require of thee but do justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with The God.” And our own Henry David Thoreau said, “All our inventions are but improved means to an unimproved end.”
    Neil Postman
  181. What we may learn from these two great philosophers, Einstein and Mill, is what they learned from their predecessors - that it is necessary to live as if there is transcendent authority. “One can have the clearest and most complete knowledge of what is”, Einstein wrote, “and yet not be able to deduce from that what should be the goal of our human aspirations. Objective knowledge provides us with powerful instruments for the achievement of certain ends, but the ultimate goal itself and longing to reach it must come from another source”. The other source is religion. Neither Mill nor Einstein believed in the stories that give form and inspiration to traditional religious systems, what Mill called the “supernatural religions”. But both understood that we require a story that provides a basis for moral conduct and has a transcendent character. They found it in “natural law”, and in the capacities of “human nature”. In their stories, human beings have innate feelings for the general good and the unity of mankind. Mill called his story the Religion of Humanity. Einstein spoke of Cosmic Religious feeling. And they found the details of their moral code in sacred texts and history, as well as custom; that is to say, in our obligations to those whom we have judged to have acted in accord with the principles if human solidarity. Mill wrote: “… the thought that our dead parents or friends would have approved our conduct is scarcely less powerful motive than the knowledge that our living ones do approve it; and the idea that Socrates, or Howard, or Washington, or Antonius or Christ would have sympathized with us, or that we are attempting to do our part in the spirit in which they did theirs, has operated on the very best minds as strong incentive to act up to their highest feelings and convictions.” That there is a tendency as part of our nature toward our being “moral” - detesting wanton killing, honoring parents, caring for children, speaking truthfully, loving mercy, overcoming egotism, and all the other exhortations we find shared by sacred texts - is a legacy of Enlightenment. And that this tendency cannot be proven in a scientific manner but must be taken on faith is also a feature of that legacy. And that there can be no objection to one’s believing in a divine source for one’s moral grounding is yet another feature of the legacy, provided one does not claim absolute certainty for one’s belief.
    Neil Postman
  182. All our inventions are but improved means to an unimproved end.
    Henry David Thoreau
  183. … the thought that our dead parents or friends would have approved our conduct is scarcely less powerful motive than the knowledge that our living ones do approve it; and the idea that Socrates, or Howard, or Washington, or Antonius or Christ would have sympathized with us, or that we are attempting to do our part in the spirit in which they did theirs, has operated on the very best minds as strong incentive to act up to their highest feelings and convictions.
    John Stuart Mill
  184. Information consists of statements about the facts of the world. Facts cannot be wrong. They are what they are. Statements about facts - that is, information - can be wrong and often are.
    Neil Postman
  185. I find it useful to ask of any technology that is marketed as indispensable, What problem does it solve for me? Will it advantages outweigh its disadvantages? Will it alter my habits and language, and if so, for better or worse? … I will use technology when I judge it to be in my favor to do so. I resist being used by it. In some cases I may have moral objections. But in most instances, my objection is practical, and reason tells me to measure the results from that point of view.
    Neil Postman
  186. Perhaps because of such psychic burden, we have held on to the idea that technological innovation is synonymous with moral, social, and psychic progress.
    Neil Postman
  187. The food of feeling is action… Let a person have nothing to do for his country, and he will not care for it.
    John Stuart Mill
  188. I rather like imagining a time when, in addition to op-ed pages, we will have “wisdom pages”, filled with relevant questions about the stories that have been covered, questions directed at those who offer different bodies of knowledge from those which the stories themselves confront. I can even imagine a time when the news will be organized, not according to the standard format of local, regional, national, and world news, but according to some other organizing principle - for example, the seven deadly sins of greed, lust, envy, and so on.
    Neil Postman
  189. The change in the meaning of information was largely generated by invention of telegraphy and photography in the 1840s. Telegraphy, in particular, gave legitimacy to the idea of context-free information; that is, to the idea that the value of information need not be tied to any function it might server in social and political life. It may exist by itself, as a means of satisfying curiosity and offering novelty. The telegraph made information into a commodity, a “thing” desirable in itself, separate from its possible uses and meaning. In the process, telegraphy made public discourse essentially incoherent. It brought into being a world of broken time and broken attention, to use Mumford’s phrase. The principal strength of the telegraph was its capacity to move information not collect it, explain it, or analyze it.
    Neil Postman
  190. John Stuart Mill argued that the active participation of the governed in the process of government is an essential component of a democratic system. “The food of feeling”, he wrote, “is action… Let a person have nothing to do for his country, and he will not care for it.” That, I assume, is what John F. Kennedy meant in saying, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country”. Political indifference in the death of democracy.
    Neil Postman
  191. Science and religion will be hopeful, useful, and life-giving only if we learn to read them with new humility - as tales, as limited human renderings of the Truth.
    Neil Postman
  192. Bernard Mandeville argued that the “private vices” of envy and pride are, in fact, “public virtues” in that they stimulate industry and invention, and Hume wrote that the “pleasure of luxury and the profit of commerce roused men from their indolence”, leading them to advances in their various enterprises.
    Neil Postman
  193. Science can purify religion from error and superstition. Religion can purify science from idolatry and false absolutes.
    Pope John Paul II
  194. “Information revolution” … has made it impossible to keep secrets from the young - sexual secrets, political secrets, social secrets, historical secrets, medical secrets; that is to say, the full content of adult life, which must be kept at least partially hidden from the young if there is to be a category of life known as childhood.
    Neil Postman
  195. (Editor: Rousseau made two powerful contributions to the idea of Childhood). The first was in his insistence that the child is important in himself, and not merely a means to an end… Rousseau’s second idea was that child’s intellectual and emotional life is important , not because we must to know about it in order to teach and train our children, but because childhood is the stage of life when man most closely approximates the “state of nature”.
    Neil Postman
  196. Imagined futures are always more about where we have been than where we are going.
    Neil Postman
  197. Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.
    John F. Kennedy
  198. There are three clear legacies of the eighteenth century that bear on education; that is to say, on schooling. The first … is the idea that schooling must be based on understanding the nature of childhood and, in particular, of the different stages through which the young travel on their journey to adulthood. The second … is the idea that an educated populace is a national resources. And the third is the assumption than an educated mind is practiced in the uses of reason, which inevitably leads to a skeptical - one might event say scientific - outlook.
    Neil Postman
  199. It seemed clear to many in the nineteenth century that progress was as real as gravity or any other natural phenomenon. And its reality was given special force by the great invention of invention. We learned how to invent things, and the question of why receded in importance. The idea that if something could be done, it should be done was born in the nineteenth century. And along with it there developed a profound belief in all the principles through which invention succeeds: objectivity, efficiency, standardization, measurement, a market economy, and, of course, faith in progress.
    Neil Postman
  200. Rather than their reading Derrida, they ought to read Diderot, or Voltaire, Rousseau, Swifts, Madison, Condorcet, or many of the writers of the Enlightenment period who believed that, for all of the difficulties in mastering language, it is possible to say what you mean, to mean what you say, and to be silent when you have nothing to say.
    Neil Postman
  201. In America parties do not write books to combat each other’s opinions, but pamphlets, which are circulated for a day with incredible rapidity and then expire.
    Alexis de Tocqueville
  202. Like telegraphy, photography re-creates the world as a series of idiosyncratic events. There is no beginning, middle, or end in a world of photographs. as there is none implied by telegraphy. The world is atomized. There is only a present, and it need not be part of any story that can be told.
    Neil Postman
  203. The problem to be solved in the twenty first century is not how to move information, not the engineering of information. We solved that problem long ago. The problem is how to transform information into knowledge, and how to transform knowledge into wisdom.
    Neil Postman
  204. Editorials merely tell us what to think. I am talking about telling us what we need to know in order to think. That is the difference between mere opinion and wisdom. It is also the difference between dogmatism and education. Any fool can have an opinion; to know what one needs to know to have an opinion is wisdom; which is another way of saying that wisdom means knowing what questions to ask about knowledge.
    Neil Postman
  205. We live now in a world to too much information, confusing specialized knowledge, and too little wisdom.
    Neil Postman
  206. For all of the Twain’s enthusiasm for the giantism of American industry, the totality of his work is an affirmation of the pre-technological values. Personal loyalty, regional tradition, the continuity of family life, the relevance of the tales and wisdom of the elderly, are the soul of his books.
    Neil Postman
  207. School is traditionally considered a place for students to learn answers, not the questions which evoke answers. What will happen if a student, being given a set of facts, asks, “What is a fact? How is it different from an opinion? And who is to judge?”
    Neil Postman
  208. Both David Hume and Adam Smith argued that there existed a self-generating impulse of rising expectations that must lead to a society of continuous improvement.
    Neil Postman
  209. There were two intellectual strains of which the idea (Editor: of childhood) was composed. We might call them the Lockean, or the Protestant, conception of childhood, and the Rousseauian, or Romantic, conception. In the Protestant view, the child is an unformed person who, through literacy, education, reason, self-control and shame, may be made into a civilized adult. In the Romantic view, it is not the unformed child but the deformed adult who is the problem. The child possesses as his or her birthright capacities for candor, and understanding , curiosity, and spontaneity that are deadened by literacy, education, reason, self-control, and shame… To Rousseau, education was essentially a subtraction process; to Locke an addition process. But whatever the differences between these to metaphors, they do have in common a concern for the future. Locke wanted education to result in a rich, varied, and copious book; Rousseau wanted education to result in a healthy flower. This is important to keep in mind, for a concern for the future is increasingly missing from the metaphors of childhood in the present day. Neither Locke not Rousseau ever doubted that childhood requires future-oriented guidance of adults.
    Neil Postman
  210. “Every culture”, Lewis Mumford once wrote, “lives within its dream.” But we often lose our dream, as I believe happened to us in the twentieth century. And we are in danger if we cannot reclaim one that will help us to go forward. What else is history for if not to remind us about our better dreams?
    Neil Postman
  211. Among their (Editor: ancient greeks) values none stood higher than that in all things one should strive for excellence.
    Neil Postman
  212. I am suspicious of people who want us to be forward-looking. I literally do not know what they mean when they say, “We must look ahead to see where we are going”. What is it that they wish us to look at? There is nothing yet to see in the future. If looking ahead means anything, it must mean finding in our past useful and humane ideas with which to fill the future.
    Neil Postman
  213. I regard history as the single most important idea for our youth to take with them into the future. I call it an idea rather than a subject because every subject has a history, and its history is an integral part of the subject. History, we might say, is meta-subject. No one can claim accurate knowledge of a subject unless one knows how such knowledge came to be. I would, of course, favor “history” courses, although I have always thought such courses out to be called “histories” so that our youth would understand that what once happened has been seen from different points of view, by different people, each with a different story to tell.
    Neil Postman
  214. Everyone will know how to use computers. But what they will not know, as none of us did about everything from automobiles to movies to television, is what are the psychological, social, and political effects of new technologies. And that is a subject that ought to be central in schools… If we are going to make technology education part of the curriculum, its goal must be to teach students to use technology rather than to be used by it. And that means that they must know how a technology’s use affects the society in which they live, as well as their own personal lives. This is something we didn’t do with television, and, I fear, we are now not doing with computer technology.
    Neil Postman
  215. I … propose that, beginning sometime in later elementary school and proceeding with focused detail in high school and beyond, we provide our young with opportunities to study comparative religion. Such studies would promote no particular religion but would aim at illuminating the metaphors, literature, art, and ritual of religious expression itself.
    Neil Postman
  216. The essence of religion is the strong and earnest direction of the emotions and desires toward the ideal object, recognized as of highest excellence, and as rightfully paramount over all selfish objects of desire.
    John Stuart Mill
  217. Knowledge cannot judge itself. Knowledge must be judged by other knowledge, and therein lies the essence of wisdom.
    Neil Postman
  218. What do I mean by “knowledge”? I define knowledge as organized information - information that is embedded in some context; information that has a purpose, that leads one to seek further information in order to understand something about the world.
    Neil Postman
  219. “Mythinformation” is an almost religious conviction that at the root of our difficulties - social, political, ecological, psychological - it the fact that we do not have enough information. This, in spite of everyone’s having access to books, newspapers, magazines, radios, television, movies, photographs, videos, CDs, billboards, telephones, junk mail, and, recently, the Internet.
    Neil Postman
  220. The worst thing about television news or radio news is that there is no reason offered for why information is there; no background; no connectedness to anything else; no point of view; no sense of what the audience is supposed to do with the information.
    Neil Postman
  221. But something had happened, as we know, in the twentieth century. Among other things the idea that progress is real, humane, and inevitable died. As early as 1932, Lewis Mumford thought progress to be “the deadest of the dead ideas … the one notion that was thoroughly blasted by the twentieth century experience”.
    Neil Postman
  222. Television solved several important problems, but in solving them changed the nature of political discourse, led to a serious decline in literacy, and quite possibly made the traditional process of socializing children impossible.
    Neil Postman
  223. The idea of progress, then, is one of the great gifts of the Enlightenment. The eighteenth century invented it, elaborated it, and promoted it, and in doing so generated vast resources of vitality, confidence, and hope. But the eighteenth century also criticized and doubted it, initiating powerful arguments about its limitations and pitfalls.
    Neil Postman
  224. We do not always have to go in the direction that some technology takes us. We have responsibilities to ourselves and our institutions that supersede our responsibilities ti the potential of technology.
    Neil Postman
  225. Newspapers should get out of information business and into the knowledge business.
    Neil Postman
  226. What is hateful to thee, do not do to another.
    Rabbi Hillel
  227. The science curriculum is usually focused on communicating the known facts of each discipline without serious attention … to the history of discipline, the mistakes scientist have made, the methods they use and have used, or the ways in which scientific claims are either refuted or confirmed.
    Neil Postman
  228. I mean by “narrative” as story. I refer to big stories - stories that are sufficiently profound and complex to offer explanations of the origins and future of people; stories that construct ideals, prescribe rules of conduct, specify sources of authority, and, in doing all this, provide a sense of continuity and purpose. Joseph Campbell and Rollo May, among others, called such stories “myths”. Marx had such stories in mind referring to “ideologies”. And Freud called them “illusions”. No matter. What is important about narratives is that human being cannot live without them. We are burdened with a kind of consciousness that insists on our having a purpose. Purposefulness requires a moral context, and moral context is what I mean by a narrative.
    Neil Postman
  229. At every action, no matter by whom preferred, make it a practice to ask yourself, “What is his object in doing this?” But begin with yourself; out this question to yourself first of all.
    Marcus Aurelius
  230. We are presented with a world of “and”s, not “because”s. This happened, and then this happened, and then something else happened.
    Neil Postman
  231. Balzac, Flaubert, and Zola, documented in their novels the spiritual emptiness that a culture obsessed with progress produces.
    Neil Postman
  232. Nicholas Negroponte envisions a time when we may speak to a doorknob or a toaster and predicts that, when we do, we will find the experience no more uncomfortable than talking to a telephone answering machine. He has nothing to say about how we may become different by talking to doorknob (and he has no clue about how talking to an answering machine s is far from comfortable). He is concerned only that we adapt to our technological future. He nowhere addresses the psychic or social meaning of adaptation. People are quite capable of adapting to all sorts of changes - soldiers adapt themselves to killing, children adapt themselves to being fatherless, women can adapt themselves to being abused. I have not doubt we can adapt ourselves to talking much more to machines than to people. But that is not an answer to anything.
    Neil Postman
  233. Democracy depends on public discourse, and therefore the kind of quality of the discourse is of singular importance. Simply to say that more information is received more quickly in diverse forms, with opportunities for fast feedback, is not to say that democratic processes are enriched.
    Neil Postman
  234. To use the term “distance learning” to refer to students and teacher sending e-mail messages to each other may have some value, but it obscures the fact that the act of reading a books is the best example of distance learning possible, for reading not only triumphs over the limitations of space and co-presence bit of time as well.
    Neil Postman
  235. Every culture lives within its dream.
    Lewis Mumford
  236. Let the child be as free as possible, treasure every moment which may be conductive to freedom, peace, and equanimity. Do not teach by words anything which you can teach by actual experience of things as they are.
    Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi
  237. It is not inevitable that the computer will be used to promote sequential, logical, complex, and even philosophical thought among the mass of people. There are economic and political interest that would be better served by allowing the bulk of semiliterate population to entertain itself with the magic of visual computer games, to use and be used by computers without understanding.
    Neil Postman
  238. When people do not have a satisfactory narrative to generate a sense of purpose and continuity, a kind of psychic disorientation takes hold, followed by a frantic search for something to believe in or, probably worse, a resigned conclusion that there is nothing to find.
    Neil Postman
  239. Most students have no idea why Copernicus is to be preferred over Ptolemy. If they know of Ptolemy at all, they know that he was “wrong” and Copernicus was “right”, but only because their teacher or textbook says so. This way of believing is what scientists regard as dogmatic and authoritarian. It is the exact opposite of scientific belief.
    Neil Postman
  240. One should, each day, try to hear a little song, read a good poem, see a fine picture, and, if possible, speak a few reasonable words.
    Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
  241. We think of a philosopher as a person who is involved in a political and social affair, who is eager to change how things are, who is obsessed with the enlightenment of others.
    Neil Postman
  242. In a culture dominated by print, public discourse tends to be characterized by a coherent, orderly arrangement of facts and ideas. The public for whom it is intended is generally competent to manage such discourse. In a print culture, writers make mistakes when they lie, contradict themselves, fail to support their generalizations, try to enforce illogical connections. In a print culture readers make mistakes when they don’t notice, or even worse, don’t care.
    Neil Postman
  243. Marvin Minsky and others working in the field of artificial intelligence have prophesied enthusiastically that humans will become merely pets of their computers.
    Neil Postman
  244. I believe we are living just now in a special moment in time, at one of those darkening moments when all around us is change and we cannot yet see which way to go. Our old ways of explaining ourselves to ourselves are not large enough to accommodate a world made paradoxically small by our technologies, yet larger than we can grasp. We cannot go back to simpler times and simpler tales - tales made by clans and tribes and nations when the world was large enough for each to pursue its separate evolution. There are no island continents in the world of electronic technologies, no places left to hide or withdraw from the communities of women or men. We cannot make the world accept one tale - and tat one our own - by chanting it louder than the rest or silencing those who are singing a different song. We must take to heart the sage remark of Niels Bohr, one of our century’s greatest scientist. He said, “The opposite of a correct statement is an incorrect statement. The opposite of a profound truth is another profound truth.” … We can only make the human tale larger by making ourselves little smaller - by seeing that the vision each of us is granted is but a tiny fragment of a much greater Truth not given to mortals to know.
    Neil Postman
  245. The unexamined life is not worth living.
    Socrates
  246. Radio, for example, made it unnecessary for people to read to each other, or to read a all. Movies led people out of their homes; television brought them back but not to read.
    Neil Postman
  247. Television erases the dividing line between childhood and adulthood in two ways: it requires no instruction to grasp its form, and it does not segregate its audience. Therefore, it communicates the same information to everyone, simultaneously, regardless of age, sex, level of education, or previous condition of servitude.
    Neil Postman
  248. As television begins to render invisible the traditional concept of childhood, it would not be quite accurate to say that it immerses us in an adult world. Rather, it uses the material of the adult world as basis for projecting a new kind of person altogether. We might call this person the adult-child… Television promotes as desirable many of the attitudes that we associate with childishness - for example, an obsessive need for immediate gratification, a lack of concern for consequences, and almost promiscuous preoccupation with consumption.
    Neil Postman
  249. The idea of children implies a vision of the future. They are the living messages we send to a time we will not see. But television cannot communicate a sense of the future or, for that matter, a sense of the past. It is a present-centered medium, a speed-of-light medium. Everything we see on television is experienced as happening now. The grammar of television has no analogue to the past and future tenses in language. It amplifies the present out of all proportion and transforms the childish need for immediate gratification into a way of life. We end up with what Christopher Lasch calls “the culture of narcissism” - no future, no children, everyone fixed at an age somewhere twenty and thirty.
    Neil Postman
  250. One becomes fastidious about method only when one has not story to tell.
    Neil Postman
  251. Pomposity is the triumph of style over substance.
    Neil Postman
  252. The symbolic for of television does not require any special instruction or learning. In America, television-viewing begins at about the age of eighteen months, and by thirty-six months children begin to understand and respond to television imagery… There is no need for any preparation or prerequisite training for watching television… Watching television requires no skills and develops no skills. That is why there is no such things as remedial television-watching. That is also why you are not better today at watching television than you were five years ago, or ten.
    Neil Postman
  253. To be an Athenian is to hold knowledge and, especially, the quest for knowledge in high esteem. To contemplate, to reason, to experiment, to question - these are, to an Athenian, the most exalted activities a person can perform. To a Visigoth, the quest for knowledge is useless unless it can help you to earn money or to gain power over other people. To be an Athenian is to cherish language because you believe it to be humankind’s most precious gift. In their use of language, Athenians strive for grace, precision, and variety. And they admire those who can achieve such skill. To a Visigoth, one word is as good as another, one sentence indistinguishable from another. A Visigoth’s language aspires to nothing higher than the cliché. To be an Athenian is to understand that the thread which holds civilized society together is thin and vulnerable; therefore, Athenians place great value on tradition, social restraint, and continuity. To an Athenian, bad manners are acts of violence against social order. The modern Visigoth cares little about any of this. The Visigoths think of themselves as the center of the universe. Tradition exists for the own convenience, good manners are an affectation and a burden, and history is merely what is in yesterday’s newspaper. To be an Athenian is to take a interest in public affairs and the improvement of public behavior. Indeed, the ancient Athenians had a word for people who did not. The word was idiotes, from which we get our word “idiot”. A modern Visigoth is interested only in his own affairs and has no sense of the meaning of community. And, finally, to be an Athenian is to esteem the discipline, skill, and taste that are required to produce enduring art. Therefor, in approaching a work of art, Athenians prepare their imagination through learning and experience. To a Visigoth, there is no measure of artistic excellence except popularity. What catches the fancy of the multitude is good. no other standard is respected or even acknowledged by the Visigoth.
    Neil Postman
  254. The brain does not regard brain change as a problem. If we think of language as brain of civilization, then it is possible that severe language-damage may not be perceived by the social body as a problem. It is possible that we have adapted ourselves to disinformation, to Newspeak, to picture newspapers and magazines, to religion revealed in the form of entertainment, to politics in the form of a thirty-second television commercial. In adapting ourselves, we come to accept the present situation as the only available standard.
    Neil Postman
  255. Television if relentless in both revealing and trivializing all things private and shameful.
    Neil Postman
  256. We do not see anything as it is except through the questions we put to it.
    Neil Postman
  257. When a culture becomes overloaded with pictures; when logic and rhetoric lose their binding authority; when historical truth becomes irrelevant; when the spoken or written word is distrusted or makes demands on our attention that we are incapable of giving; when our politics, history, education, religion, public information, and commerce are expressed largely in visual imagery rather than words, then a culture is in serious jeopardy.
    Neil Postman
  258. Humans live in two worlds - the world of events and things, and the world of words about events and things. In considering the relationship between these two worlds, we must keep in mind that language does much more than construct concepts about the events and things in the world; it tells us what sort of concepts we ought to construct. For we do not have a name for every thing that occurs in the world. Languages differ not only in their names for things but in what things they choose to name.
    Neil Postman
  259. Just as it is natural for a physicist upon reaching his deepest understandings to be drawn forward religion, so it is natural for a mature philosopher to turn forward the problems of education.
    Neil Postman
  260. (Editor: Korzybski’s) non-Aristotelian perspective requires that we learn and internalize the most up-to-date assumptions and understandings about the structure of the world: the word, for example, is not a thing; no two events in the world are identical; no one can say everything about an event; things are undergoing continuous change; et cetera.
    Neil Postman
  261. Euphemism … is that form of balderdash wherein we attempt to obscure the nature of reality.
    Neil Postman
  262. Television obliterates the distinction between child and adult, as it obliterates social secretes, as it undermines concepts of the future and the value of restraint and discipline, we seem destined to be moving back toward a medieval sensibility from which literacy had freed us.
    Neil Postman
  263. Television screens saturated with commercials promote the Utopian and childish idea that all problems have fast, simple, and technological solutions.
    Neil Postman
  264. Commercial television adds to the Decalogue several impious commandments, among them that thou shalt have no other gods than consumption, thou shalt despise what is old, thou shalt seek to amuse thyself continuously, and thou shalt avoid complexity like the ten plagues that afflicted Egypt.
    Neil Postman
  265. I believe that human beings need first to be children before they can be grown-ups. Otherwise, they remain like television’s adult-child all their lives, with no sense of belonging, no capacity for lasting relationships, no respect for limits, and not grasp of the future.
    Neil Postman
  266. Childhood innocence is impossible to sustain, which is why children have disappeared from television… All the children on televisions shows are depicted as merely small adults, in the manner of thirteenths - and fourteenth-century paintings… You will see children whose language, dress, sexuality, and interests are not different from those of the adults on the same shows.
    Neil Postman
  267. A discovery is a discovery, and an idea is an idea. Its source is irrelevant.
    Neil Postman
  268. (Editor: Huxley) prophesied, if I may put it this way, that there is a tyranny lurking in a Coca-Cola bottle; that we could be ruined not only by what we fear and hate but by what we welcome and love, by what we construe to be a gift from the gods.
    Neil Postman
  269. Brooks was making a kind of prophecy … that the producers of American culture will increasingly turn our history, politics, religion, commerce, and education into forms of entertainment, and that we will become as a result a trivial people, incapable of coping with complexity, ambiguity, uncertainty, perhaps even reality. We will become, in a phrase, a people amused into stupidity.
    Neil Postman
  270. There are two ways in which the spirit of a culture becomes a prison. This was the way of Nazis, and it appears to be the way of the Russians. In the second - the Huxleyan - culture becomes a burlesque. This appears to be the way of the Americans. What Huxley teaches is that in the Age of Advanced Technology, spiritual devastation is more likely to come from an enemy with a smiling countenance than from one whose face exudes suspicion and fate. In the Huxleyan prophecy, Big Brother does not watch us, by his choice; we watch him, by ours. When a culture becomes distracted by trivia; when political and social life are redefined as a perpetual round of entertainments; when public conversation becomes a form of baby talk; when a people become, in short, an audience and their public business a vaudeville act, then - Huxley argued - a nation finds itself at risk and culture-death is a clear possibility.
    Neil Postman
  271. Junk food, once suite only to the undiscriminating palates and iron stomachs of the young, is now common fare for adults. It has already been forgotten that adults are supposed to have more developed taste in food than children. McDonald’s and Burger King commercials show us that this distinction is no longer relevant.
    Neil Postman
  272. It is meaningless to have answers if we do not know the questions that produces them… To have an answer without knowing the questions, without understanding that you might not have been given a different answer if the question had been posed differently, may be more than meaningless; it may be exceedingly dangerous.
    Neil Postman
  273. In Orwell’s book people are controlled by inflicting pain. In Brave New World, they are controlled by inflicting pleasure.
    Neil Postman
  274. Whatever we say something is, it is not.
    Alfred Korzybski
  275. As language itself creates culture in its own image, each new medium of communication re-creates or modifies culture in its image; and it is extreme naïveté to believe that a medium of communication or, indeed, any technology is merely a tool, a way of doing. Each is also a way of seeing. To a man with a hammer, everything looks like a nail. To a man with a pencil, everything looks like a sentence; to a man with a television camera, everything looks like a picture, and to a man with a computer, the whole world looks like a data.
    Neil Postman
  276. The principles and rules of asking questions obviously differ as we move from of one system of knowledge to another.
    Neil Postman
  277. Men do not become tyrants in order to become warm.
    Aristotle
  278. We may … be so preoccupied with defending ourselves against attach that we are unable to recognize when our enemy is inadvertently helping our case. That is why Napoleon warned his generals that they must never interrupt an enemy when he is in the process of committing suicide.
    Neil Postman
  279. We are, to use his (Editor: Korzybski) phrase, “time-binders”, while plants are “chemistry-binders”, and animals are “space-binders”. Chemistry-binding is the capacity to transform sunlight into organic chemical energy; space-binding, the capacity to move about and control a physical environment. Human have these capacities, too, but are unique in their ability to transport their experience through time. As time binders, we can accumulate knowledge from the past and communicate what we know to the future.
    Neil Postman
  280. This is where television news is at its most radical - not in the giving publicity to radical causes, but in producing the impression of an ungovernable world.
    Neil Postman
  281. With the assistance of modern contraceptives, the sexual appetite of both adults and children can be satisfied without serious restraint and without mature understanding of its meaning. Here, television has played an enormous role, since it not only keep the entire population in a condition of high sexual excitement but stresses a kind of egalitarianism of sexual fulfillment: sex is transformed into a product available to everyone - let us say, like mouthwash or under-arm deodorant.
    Neil Postman
  282. Our principle means of accomplishing binding of time is symbol. But our capacity to symbolize is dependent upon and integral to another process, which Korzybski called “abstracting”. Abstracting is the continuous activity of selecting, omitting, and organizing the details of reality so that we experience the world as patterned and coherent. Korzybski shared with Heraclitus the assumption that the world is undergoing continuous change and that no two events are identical. We give stability to to our world only through our capacity to re-create it by ignoring differences and attending to similarities: although we know that we cannot step into the “same” river twice, abstracting allows us to act as if we can.
    Neil Postman
  283. In the television-commercial parables, the root cause of evil is Technological Innocence, a failure to know the particulars of the beneficent accomplishments of the industrial process.
    Neil Postman
  284. “Future schlock” is the name I give to a cultural condition characterized by the rapid erosion of collective intelligence. Future schlock is the aftermath of future shock. Whereas future shock results in confused, indecisive, and psychically uprooted people, future schlock produces a massive class of mediocre people.
    Neil Postman
  285. It is odd that we have no word for serendipity’s close by but troublesome cousin, especially because it is more common variety of experience. I refer to a situation in which someone looks to one thing, discovers a more valuable thing, but doesn’t know it. I propose the word columbusity, if honor of Christopher Columbus.
    Neil Postman
  286. How can I help students to get an idea? … One of the ways that seem to help is to ask them to survey their stock of beliefs, choose one of them that they hold deeply, and then argue that its opposite is true. The result is often liberating, and provides confirmation of the commonplace that playing with language is an important means of making discoveries.
    Neil Postman
  287. Unless one’s complaints are grounded in a sense of duty to one’s country or to a recognizable humane tradition, they are not worthy of serious attention.
    Neil Postman
  288. The theme music came up and Sassoon had just time enough to say, “Don’t go away. We’ll be back with a marvelous new diet and then a quick look at incest”.
    Neil Postman
  289. “Watching television” is something quite different from “watching a television program”. The later implies a selection, the former a compulsion.
    Neil Postman
  290. … ours is the first era in which it has been possible for people of different nations to conduct their affairs in a friendly and understanding manner. In the old days, peoples spent their lives fearing and even hating one another because of ignorance on all sides.
    Albert Einstein
  291. I was made acutely aware how far superior an education that stresses independent action and personal responsibility is to one that relies on drill, external authority and ambition.
    Albert Einstein
  292. It was no use hanging on to the English notion that you are safe so long as you keep the law. Practically the law was what the police chose to make it.
    George Orwell
  293. I had dropped more or less by chance into the only community of any size in Western Europe where political consciousness and disbelief in capitalism were more normal than their opposites. Up here in Aragon one was among tens of thousands of people, mainly though not entirely of working-class origin, all living at the same level and mingling on terms of equality. In theory it was perfect equality, and even in practice it was not far from it. There is a sense in which it would be true to say that one was experiencing a foretaste of Socialism, by which I mean that the prevailing mental atmosphere was that of Socialism. Many of the normal motives of civilized life – snobbishness, money-grubbing, fear of the boss, etc – had simply ceased to exist.
    George Orwell
  294. The jails were places that could only be described as dungeons. In England you would have to go back to the eighteenth century to find anything comparable.
    George Orwell
  295. It is impossible to read through the reports in the Communist Press without realizing that they are consciously aimed at a public ignorant of the facts and have no other purpose than to work up prejudice.
    George Orwell
  296. It was queer how everything had changed. Only six month ago, when the Anarchists still reigned, it was looking like a proletarian that made you respectable.
    George Orwell
  297. When you have had a glimpse of such disaster as this – and however it ends the Spain war will turn out to gave been an appalling disaster, quite apart from the slaughter and physical suffering – the result is not necessarily disillusionment and cynicism. Curiously the whole experience had left me with not less but more belief in the decency of human beings.
    George Orwell
  298. I am well aware that it is now the fashion to deny that Socialism has anything to do with equality. In every country in the world a huge tribe of party-hacks and sleek little professors are busy “proving” that Socialism means no more than a planned state-capitalism with the grab-motive left intact. But fortunately there also exist a vision of Socialism quite different from this. The thing that attracts ordinary men to Socialism and makes them willing to risk their skins for it, the “mystique” of Socialism, is the idea of equality; to the vast majority of people Socialism means classless society, or it means nothing at all.
    George Orwell
  299. It is waste of time to be angry, but the stupid magnify of this kind of things does try one’s patience.
    George Orwell
  300. Evidently the official version of the Barcelona fighting was already fixed upon: it was to be represented as a “fifth column” Fascist rising engineered solely by the P.O.U.M.
    George Orwell
  301. The English newspapers gave it out that these ships were proceeding to Barcelona “to protect British interests.”
    George Orwell
  302. One had been in a community where hope was more normal than than apathy or cynicism, where the word “comrade” stood for comradeship and not, as in most countries, for humbug.
    George Orwell
  303. The thing that had happened in Spain was, in fact, not merely a civil war, but the beginning of a revolution. It is this fact that the anti-Fascist press outside of Spain has made it special business to obscure. The issue has been narrowed down to “Fascism versus democracy” and the revolutionary aspect concealed as much as possible. In England, where the Press is more centralized and the public is more easily deceived than elsewhere, only two versions of the Spanish war have had any publicity to speak of: the Right-wing version of Christian patriots versus Bolsheviks dripping with blood, and the Left-wing version of gentlemanly republicans quelling a military revolt. The central issue has been successfully covered up.
    George Orwell
  304. But so long as argument is produced except a scream of “Trotsky-Fascist!” the discussion cannot even begin.
    George Orwell
  305. The only unexpected feature in the Spanish situation – and outside Spain it has caused an immense amount of misunderstanding – is that among tge parties of the Government side the Communist stood not upon the extreme Left, but upon the extreme Right. In reality this should cause no surprise, because the tactics of the Communist Party elsewhere, especially in France, have made it clear that Official Communism must be regarded, at any rate for the time being, as an anti-revolutionary force. The whole of Comintern policy is now subordinated (excusably, considering the world situation) to the defense of U.S.S.R., which depends upon a system of military alliances. In particular, the U.S.S.R. is in alliance with France, a capitalist-imperialist country. The alliance is of little use to Russia unless French capitalism is strong, therefore Communist policy in France has got to be anti-revolutionary.
    George Orwell
  306. [i]t is not sufficient that the state of affairs which we seek to promote should be better than the state of affairs which preceded it; it must be sufficiently better to make up for the evils of the transition.
    John Maynard Keynes
  307. Above all, the new Left—and its overwhelmingly youthful constituency—rejected the inherited collectivism of its predecessor. To an earlier generation of reformers from Washington to Stockholm, it had been self-evident that ‘justice’, ‘equal opportunity’ or ‘economic security’ were shared objectives that could only be attained by common action. Whatever the shortcomings of over-intrusive top-down regulation and control, these were the price of social justice—and a price well worth paying.
    Tony Judt
  308. Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influences, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist. Madmen in authority, who hear voices in the air, are distilling their frenzy from some academic scribbler of a few years back. I am sure that the power of vested interests is vastly exaggerated compared with the gradual encroachment of ideas.
    John Maynard Keynes
  309. I think that Capitalism, wisely managed, can probably be made more efficient for attaining economic ends than any alternative system yet in sight. But that in itself is in many ways extremely objectionable. Our problem is to work out a social organization which shall be as efficient as possible without offending our notions of a satisfactory way of life.
    John Maynard Keynes
  310. Instead of using their vastly increased material and technical resources to build a wonder city, the men of the nineteenth century built slums … [which] on the test of private enterprise, ‘paid,’ whereas the wonder city would, they thought, have been an act of foolish extravagance, which would, in the imbecile idiom of the financial fashion, have ‘mortgaged the future’ … The same rule of self-destructive financial calculation governs every walk of life. We destroy the beauty of the countryside because the un-appropriated splendors of nature have no economic value. We are capable of shutting off the sun and the stars because they do not pay a dividend.
    John Maynard Keynes
  311. In the last analysis, every life is realization of a whole, that is, of a self, for which reason this realization can be called “individuation”. All life is bound to individual carriers who realize it, and it is simply inconceivable without them. But every carrier is charged with an individual destiny and destination, and the realization of this alone makes sense of life.
    Carl Jung
  312. Thanks to movies, I existed parallel in time to people my own age in France, Holland, or America.
    Czesław Miłosz
  313. Poland weighed on us. To live there was like walking on a sheet of ice underneath which grimaced a million deformed, nightmarish faces. The lack of a uniform standard made it impossible to take a man “as he is” - the forefront of the picture was always dominated by his status: white-collar, peasant, Jew.
    Czesław Miłosz
  314. Modern man’s bitterness and sorrow, already so apparent in Byron, has only one source: the mind’s image of matter as infinite, as subject to time without end and without beginning, which provokes a cosmic terror before a universe that exists nowhere. Hence the question he constantly asks of himself, walking and sleeping: Where is space? The Newtonian universe is a prison.
    Czesław Miłosz
  315. Modern civilization, if is said, creates uniform boredom and destroys individuality. If so, then this is one sickness I had been spared.
    Czesław Miłosz
  316. Through defeats and disasters, humanity searches for the elixir of youth; that is, of life made into thought, the ardor that upholds belief in the wider usefulness of our individual effort, even if it apparently changes nothing in the iron working of the world… By choosing, we had to give up some values for the sake of others, which is the essence of tragedy. Yet only such an experience can whet our understanding, so that we see an old truth in a new light: when ambition counsels us to lift ourselves above simple moral rules guarded by the poor in spirit, rather than to choose them as our compass needle amid the uncertainties of change, we stifle the only thing that can redeem our follies and mistakes: love.
    Czesław Miłosz
  317. In Polish literature there are no characters like Dostoyevsky’s Alyosha or Prince Mishkin, who symbolize the dilemma: “either all good or no good at all”.
    Czesław Miłosz
  318. (Editor: Einstein) was a humanitarian; his mind had been formed in an era when nothing could have shaken the prevailing assumption that man is a reasonable creature, and that if he falls into madness it is only temporary. The criterion for that era had been the individual man, who dominated the collectivity, who was safeguarded by inviolable law and empowered to protest by the ballot. But for my generation man was already the plaything of demonic powers born not in himself but in an interhuman space created by both him and his fellow-man.
    Czesław Miłosz
  319. Philosophy, despite the university departments, is not mere speculation; … it both nourishes itself on everything within us and impregnates our whole being; and … if it does not help us to judge a man, a piece of sculpture, a literary work, it is dead.
    Czesław Miłosz
  320. Already during my early childhood I had drawn a feeling of superiority from my meditations on the universality of death: those around me did not think about this, I thought about it, and this alone gave me the upper hand. Is it not the same with a man, who, in his mind, undresses a woman walking down the street? What interests him more than sex is power.
    Czesław Miłosz
  321. Immense number of people maintain themselves with jobs that are dishonest. At the bottom of their heart they know this, but in their feverish bustling they try to prove to themselves and to others that if not for them the globe would stop turning. The peasant is honest because his energy is transformed into the bread. The artisan is honest because he makes over wood … or metal.
    Czesław Miłosz
  322. Terror and destruction were for export, not for home use; on the contrary, they served to enrich one’s home country. Wretched humanity beyond one’s own frontiers was simply a material to be cut and shaped as one pleased.
    Czesław Miłosz
  323. The fate of humanity, according to him (Editor: Tiger), does not depend upon the foolish moves of its politicians but upon revolutions so discreet that scarcely anyone perceives them.
    Czesław Miłosz
  324. All their aggressiveness had been channeled into the struggle for money, and that struggle made them forget the bloody lessons of the Civil War. Later on, every one of them had so trained himself to forget, that during the depression he regarded unemployment as shameful proof of his own personal inability. I esteemed these men; I was an admirer of their America. At least no one here could justify his laziness by sighing: “If only nations were not predestined, if it weren’t for the Czar, if it weren’t for the government, if it weren’t for the bourgeoisie …” But paradoxically, that triumph of the individual had wrought an inner sterility; they had souls of shiny plastic. Only the Negroes, obsessed like us …, were alive, tragic and spontaneous.
    Czesław Miłosz
  325. My own regular subject of contemplation was the same: the devastating process of change - in individuals, in countries, and in systems.
    Czesław Miłosz
  326. There are many definitions of freedom. One of them proclaims that freedom is the ability to drink and unlimited quantity of vodka.
    Czesław Miłosz
  327. From the dreams spun by nineteenth-century Socialists about a perfect society, nothing had really bean salvaged. Instead, the foreground was dominated by the Hegelian conviction that certain phases will inevitably be victorious over others: that things are as they are, and we are not responsible.
    Czesław Miłosz
  328. The nonsense was over at last. That long-dreaded fulfillment had freed us from self-reassuring lies, illusions, subterfuges; the opaque had become transparent; only a village well, the roof of a hut, or a plow were real, not the speeches of statesmen recalled now with ferocious irony.
    Czesław Miłosz
  329. To kill time before my train left, I went into the only little theater there. The pure vulgarity of that burlesque show, stripped of aesthetic, plebeian, was fit for immigrant workers camps of the last century; even apes would have understood copulative movements of the girls on stage. A diversion for lonely males. But in the bar across the street lonely were deprived even of the consolation of stammering their confession to the bartender, for all eyes were riveted on the television screen. Was this the highest that l’homme sensuel moel could reach when left to himself, undismayed by the cyclones of history? The inside of the train, which I boarded a while later, was decorated with large reproductions of French Impressionists.
    Czesław Miłosz
  330. Had I been given the chance, perhaps I would have blown the country to bits, so that mothers would no longer cry over the seventeen year-old sons and daughters who died on the barricades, so that the grass would no longer grow over the ashes of Treblinka and Majdanek and Auschwitz, so that the notes of a harmonica played under the nightmarish pits and dunes of the city outskirts. Because there is a kind of pity that is unbearable. And so one blows it all up, at least in one’s mind; that is, one is possessed by a single desire: not to look.
    Czesław Miłosz
  331. Much has been written about the need for faith in our century. Perhaps it would be more correct to remember that a need for a simplified outlook on life, which could be contained in a catechism or a brochure, has always existed. Marxism probably had such great drawing power because it appeared at a time when the world had become too difficult to grasp either scientifically or humanistically; and the more primitive the mind, the greater the pleasure in reducing unruly, disparate quantities to a common denominator.
    Czesław Miłosz
  332. Most important was the ability I acquired, once and for all, to concentrate not only on the meaning but on the art of connecting words, the certainty I gained that what one says changes, depending upon how one says it.
    Czesław Miłosz
  333. At the moment of doing a good deed, resisting temptation, or coming from Confession, we think we are good. In other words, we commit a sin of pride, putting ourselves above others because we cannot forgo the comparison. We pity the sinners who are worse than we are. Of what value then is virtue? Unaware that I was treading the path of St. Augustine, I had hit upon one of Christianity’s key problems.
    Czesław Miłosz
  334. Doubtless every family archive that perishes, every account book that is burned, every attachment of the past reinforces classifications and ideas at the expense of reality. Afterward, all that remains of entire centuries is a kind of popular digest. And not one of us today is immune to that contagion.
    Czesław Miłosz
  335. Nothing is more deceptive than the apparent similarity between the Polish and Russian languages.
    Czesław Miłosz
  336. If one rejects the idea of punishments and rewards after death as indecent (what sort of shallow transaction is that?) and if history of Christianity raises doubts …; if dogma is out of harmony with scientific thought - then one must uncover a different dimension where the contradictions can change key and find new validity. This dimension exists parallel to biology or physics; it does not inhibit them.
    Czesław Miłosz
  337. Exceptional privileges and a high income do not always have to go together, because money can be replaced by fame; nor must they necessary go with freedom, for the state, even as it tames and subjugates an artist or scientist, by this very effort pays homage to his role and his importance.
    Czesław Miłosz
  338. Attentiveness, the gift that renders one aware of the presence of another man.
    Czesław Miłosz
  339. (Editor: Russian) poetry was like a magical incantation; everything was reduced to sounds. It was even free to mean nothing, since the creative stuff out of which it was made was not the world but the word. The intoxication of a chant, the intoxication of rhythm.
    Czesław Miłosz
  340. … since a person who, without intending to lie, says that he saw or understood a certain thing ought to be believed more than a thousand others who deny it merely because they could not have seen it or understood it: just as, in the discovery of the antipodes, the testimony of a few sailors who sailed around the earth was believed rather than a thousand philosophers who could not believe it was round.
    Czesław Miłosz
  341. Every dram is played only once on the stage of history; and if it is performed a second time, the tragedy is contaminated by the elements of bloody farce.
    Czesław Miłosz
  342. The odium fell on the Byelorussians, who were known for their passivity, shiftlessness, and defeatism in the face of destiny.
    Czesław Miłosz
  343. Collective imagination is given shape through the discipline of form itself, and … poetry is political in a totally different sense from the conventional use of the term.
    Czesław Miłosz
  344. Parliamentary methods were discredited in the eyes of my generation.
    Czesław Miłosz
  345. (Editor: Piłsudski’s) was … a vision of a non-national state embracing both the Polish Kingdom ad the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. A dream that was either anachronism or too modern - depending upon how it would have been realized in practice. At an hour of awakening nationalism, such a conception was both too late and too early.
    Czesław Miłosz
  346. The problem with choosing between madness (a refusal to recognize necessity) and servility (an acknowledgement of our complete powerlessness) is that one act of obedience can be the start of a downward slide. A man cannot bear a thought of being crushed by a physical compulsion; therefore he deifies the force that rules over him, investing it with superhuman traits, with omniscient reason, with a special mission; and in this way he saves a bit of his own dignity.
    Czesław Miłosz
  347. But when I compare us with the inhabitants of calm and orderly countries, I would be inclined, in spite of all our misfortunes and sufferings, to call us happier in one respect. Neither new models of cars, nor travels, nor love affairs provide the elixir of youth. In grabbing our portion of amusements and pleasures, we expose ourselves to the vengeance of time, which dulls receptivity… That miraculous elixir is nothing other than the certainty that there are no boundaries to the knowledge of what is human; that to puff ourselves with self-importance is inappropriate because each of our achievements falls away into yesterday, and we are always pupils in an introductory class.
    Czesław Miłosz
  348. Unless we can relate to it personally, history will always be no more or less of an abstraction, and its content the clash of important forces and ideas.
    Czesław Miłosz
  349. The model citizen was one who appeared out of nowhere, with neither memory nor traditions. An ancestor - not a matter of choice, after all - be he rabbi, apartment-house owner or miller, was no asset; he inspired fear and could bring on death or misfortune.
    Czesław Miłosz
  350. The completely baseless belief that only people with proletarian blood in their veins are capable of throwing themselves enthusiastically into the class struggle must be rejected from the start.
    Czesław Miłosz
  351. It was only with hindsight that I could appreciate how ironic nationalistic Europe seems to those who, thanks to just such an ancestor, had been expose to and old-fashioned way of thinking far more humane than the new way, with its fanatical discrimination.
    Czesław Miłosz
  352. All of us yearn naïvely for a certain point on the earth where the highest wisdom accessible to humanity at a given moment dwells, and it is hard to admit that such a point does not exist, that we have to rely only upon ourselves.
    Czesław Miłosz
  353. I finally obeyed Martin Luther’s advice: when asked what he would do if he knew tomorrow was going to be the end of the world, he said, “I would plant apple trees”.
    Czesław Miłosz
  354. The greatest ally of any ideology is, of course, the feeling of guilt, which is so highly developed in modern man that it saps his belief in the value of his own perceptions and judgements.
    Czesław Miłosz
  355. Mayakovsky symbolized for me the Russians’ revolution and - who knows? - perhaps their whole eternally ambiguous civilization, so powerful, human, hungry for justice in literature, and so miserable and cruel in worldly affairs. It seemed as if they spent all their strength in extraordinary feats, leaving nothing for more modest desires of harmony and happiness, which they branded treason and weakness. Perhaps there was some truth to saying that the Russians, “being able to do more, cannot do less”.
    Czesław Miłosz
  356. One should appreciate, after all, the advantages of one’s origin. Its worth lies in the power it gives one to detach oneself from the present moment.
    Czesław Miłosz
  357. What was the meaning of the statement that “America will be destroyed by fire, England by fire and water, and Russia by a falling piece of the moon?”. After that, an era of reborn humanity was to follow, the reconciliation of religion and science and the triumph of one universal Church.
    Czesław Miłosz
  358. (Editor: French) would have quaked had someone told them that if they carried rebellion to its conclusion, it would mean no more little bakeries, no more package-good stores or bistros with their cats dozing in the sun behind the windowpane. Theirs was always a secure revolt because their bitterness and their nihilism rested on the tacit understanding that thought and action was measured by different standards: thought, even the most violent, did not offend custom. Any other nation, had it permitted itself such a dose of poison, would have long ago ceased to exist; for France it was healthy. Only when carried to different soil did her slogans, books, and programs reveal their destructive force, among the people who tool the printed word literally.
    Czesław Miłosz
  359. Happy are they who can avoid radical choices.
    Czesław Miłosz
  360. No one can fully engage himself in activity knowing in advance that he will fail.
    Czesław Miłosz
  361. I was, it could be feared, a potential executioner. Every man is whose “I” is grounded in a scientific way of thinking. The temptation to apply laws of evolution to society soon becomes almost irresistible.
    Czesław Miłosz
  362. Nature’s time, thought of as linear, was more or less encompassed by the formula of evolution: the passage from inanimate matter to the first vertebrates, to fish, birds, animals, and at last to man, was progressive. As the natural sciences developed, the line was extended even further to the history of human societies. Here, too, there was to be constant progress, but until Marx there were no guarantees beyond rather vague faith.
    Czesław Miłosz
  363. (Editor: Mayakovsky’s) work welded revolutionary theory with the old dream Russians had of themselves as a chosen nation, and the two messianism nourished each other: class as redeemer and nation as redeemer.
    Czesław Miłosz
  364. In America, the contradiction inclined me toward movement, while in Paris, through my conversations with Tiger, it drove me back toward being, and I tried to diagnose my case. Whoever commits himself to movement alone will destroy himself. Whoever disregards movement will also destroy himself, but in a different way. This, I said to myself, is the very core of my destiny - never be satisfied with one or the other, only at moments to seize the unity of the opposites.
    Czesław Miłosz
  365. I was stretched, therefore, between two poles: the contemplation of motionless point and the command to participate actively in history; in other words, between transcendence and becoming. I did not manage to bring these extremes into a unity, but I did not want to give either of them up.
    Czesław Miłosz
  366. Whoever claims that force cannot suffice as an argument overlooks the character of politics, where the winner takes all. If it were possible to withdraw from politics, then the values of truth and ethics would hold. But it is not possible to withdraw, so all one can do is try to save these values or embody them in politics.
    Czesław Miłosz
  367. (Editor: Tiger) believed that it was our duty to carry the precious values of our European heritage across the dark era, even though one were to be surrounded for whole decades by nothing but absurdity, blood, and feces. Wear a mask, throw them off the scent - you will be forgiven if you preserve the love of the Good within you.
    Czesław Miłosz
  368. Documents were thought up by bureaucrats to poison people’s lives, and one should not have to stick to closely to regulations.
    Czesław Miłosz
  369. One should be cautious, however, about equating economic inferiority with weakness in all spheres.
    Czesław Miłosz
  370. By distrusting mechanistic views of the universe (very nice accomplishments but nothing comes of them) I was permitting myself the luxury of superstitions.
    Czesław Miłosz
  371. Americans accepted their society as if it had arisen from the very order of nature; so saturated with it were they that they tended to pity rest of humanity for having strayed from the norm, If I at least understood that all was not well with me, they did not realize the opposite disablement affected them: a loss of the sense of history and, therefore, of a sense of the tragic, which is only born of historical experience.
    Czesław Miłosz
  372. Nineteenth-century science fostered a completely naïve picture of history by creating contempt in the popular mind … for more complicated factors than mechanistic, material ones - in a sense, Hitler took Darwinism, “the struggle for existence” and the “survival of the fittest”, too seriously, and by identifying history with nature he ignored the limits of blind force. That naïve outlook was overcome in Marx’s analysis, and all the errors of his successors may be due to their neglect of his intention.
    Czesław Miłosz
  373. Undoubtedly I could call Europe my home, but it was a home that refused to acknowledge itself as a whole; instead, as if on the strength of some self-imposed taboo, it classified its population into two categories: members of the family (quarrelsome but respectable) and poor relations.
    Czesław Miłosz
  374. I was convinced that as long as we live, we must lift ourselves over new thresholds of consciousness; that to aim at higher and higher thresholds is our only happiness. While living in Government-General, I crossed one of those thresholds - when we finally begin to become the person we must be and we are at once inebriated and a little frightened at the enormous distance yet to be travelled.
    Czesław Miłosz
  375. The immensity of a past, made up of one event after another stored in chronicles, overwhelmed the mind and produced the boredom I so often observed in university lecture halls; it also produced anxiety, the feeling of powerlessness in the face of chaos. The connections between one event and another was unclear.
    Czesław Miłosz
  376. What we keep hidden is clearer to us than if we were to talk about it publicly.
    Czesław Miłosz
  377. I took from Marxism only its criticism of changeable and fluid institutions, but stopped at the threshold beyond which one must approve the millennium as the fulfillment of all time.
    Czesław Miłosz
  378. Because he who does not constantly overcome himself - i.e., does not learn and does not act - disintegrates within; but if a man is to grow, social reality must be flexible, not rigid, not established as it is in the West. And nothing other than that chaos of new forms, after all, had made me decide to stick to People’s Poland. It was my shield against those who spend all their time earning, spending, and amusing themselves.
    Czesław Miłosz
  379. Our real moral duty is toward the person of another human being.
    Czesław Miłosz
  380. Perfection is worth the effort and it cannot be measured by the clock; in other words, he showed us how to respect literature as a fruit of arduous labor.
    Czesław Miłosz
  381. If a problem is stated in the wrong terms, it cannot be solved.
    Czesław Miłosz
  382. I can consider myself a typical Eastern European. It seems to be true that his differentia specifica can be boiled down to a lack of form - both inner and outer. His good qualities - intellectual activity, fervor in discussion, a sense of irony, freshness of feeling, spatial (or geographical) fantasy - derive from a basic weakness: he always remains an adolescent, governed by a sudden ebb or flow of inner chaos. Form is achieved in stable societies.
    Czesław Miłosz
  383. Men who understand their place in the world differently cannot be measured by a common standard.
    Czesław Miłosz
  384. We always feel ourselves from the inside other than people see us - the clothes we wear are not our skin - but this revolt against the roles society imposes on us has many pitfalls.
    Czesław Miłosz
  385. But today I see that the effect those exercises had on me cannot be measured by the sparsity of material. The time we devoted to them, although I did not suspect it then, was to gave far greater weight than the whole days of storing up useless facts from different fields.
    Czesław Miłosz
  386. Never underestimate the power of a few committed people to change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.
    Margaret Mead
  387. A human … experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separated from the rest. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circles of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.
    Albert Einstein
  388. A person experiences life as something separated from the rest - a kind of optical delusion of consciousness. Our task must be to free ourselves from this self-imposed prison, and through compassions, to find the reality of Oneness.
    Albert Einstein
  389. Benjamin was the only animal who did not side with either faction. He refused to believe either that food would become more plentiful or that the windmill would save work. Windmill or no windmill, he said, life would go on as it had always gone on - that is, badly.
    George Orwell
  390. Bravery is not enough. Loyalty and obedience are more important… Discipline, comrades, iron discipline! That is the watch word for today. One false step, and our enemies would be upon us. Surely, comrades, you do not want Jones back?
    George Orwell
  391. All that year the animals worked like slaves. But they were happy in their work; they grudged no effort or sacrifice, well aware that everything they did was for the benefit of themselves and those of their kind who would come after them, and not for a pack of idle, thieving human beings.
    George Orwell
  392. Now, comrades, what is the nature of this life of ours? Let us face it: our lives are miserable, laborious, and short. We are born, we are given just so much food as will keep the breath in our bodies, and those of us who are capable of it are forced to the last atom of our strength; and the very instant that our usefulness has come to an end we are slaughtered with hideous cruelty. No animal in England knows the meaning of happiness or leisure after he is a year old. No animal in England is free. The life of an animal is misery and slavery: that is the plain truth.
    George Orwell
  393. The one argued that if they could not defend themselves they were bound to be conquered, the other argued that if rebellions happened everywhere they would have no need to defend themselves.
    George Orwell
  394. I trust that every animal here appreciates the sacrifice that Comrade Napoleon had made in taking extra labour upon himself. Do not imagine, comrades, that leadership is pleasure. On the contrary, it is a deep and heavy responsibility. No one believes more truly than Comrade Napoleon that all animals are equal. He would be only too happy to let you make your decisions for yourselves. But sometimes you might make the wrong decisions, comrades, and then where should we be?
    George Orwell
  395. Twelve voices were shouting in anger, and hey were all alike. No question, now, what had happened to the faces of the pigs. The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.
    George Orwell
  396. Without a narrative, life has no meaning. Without meaning, learning has no purpose. Without a purpose, schools are houses of detention, not attention.
    Neil Postman
  397. The opposite of a correct statement is an incorrect statement, but the opposite of a profound truth is another profound truth.
    Niels Bohr
  398. I do not go as far back as the introduction of the radio and the Victoria, but I am old enough to remember when 16-millimeter film was to be the sure cure, the closed-circuit television, then 8-millimeter film, then teacherproof textbooks. Now computers. I know a false god when I see one.
    Neil Postman
  399. I refer, for example, to the fact that approximately ten thousands schools have accepted the offer made by Christopher Whittle to include, daily, two minutes of commercial messages in the curriculum - the first time, to my knowledge, that an advertiser has employed the power of the state to force anyone to watch commercials. In exchange for this opportunity, Whittle offers his own ten-minute version of the news of the day and free, expensive equipment, including a satellite dish.
    Neil Postman
  400. There is little evidence (that is to say, none) that the productivity of nation’s economy is related to the quality of its schooling.
    Neil Postman
  401. We are presented with a student who is “bored with the real world.” What does it mean to say someone is bored with the real world, especially one so young? Can a journey into virtual reality cure such a problem? And if it can, will our troubled youngster want to return to the real world? Confronted with a student who is bored with the real world, I don’t think we can get away so easily by making available a virtual-reality physics lab.
    Neil Postman
  402. What happens to people when they have no gods to serve? Some commit suicide. There is more of this in the United States, particularly among our young, than in most other places in the world. Some envelop themselves in drugs, including alcohol. Some take whatever pleasure is to be found in random violence. Some encase themselves in an impenetrable egoism. Many, apparently, find a momentary and pitiful release from dread in commercial re-creations of once powerful narratives of the past.
    Neil Postman
  403. Who writes the songs that young girls sing? Or the tales that old men tell? Who creates the myths that bind a nation and give purpose and meaning to the idea of a public education? In America, it is advertisers and, of course, the popular musicians and filmmakers; maybe even the hollow mean gathered around swimming pools in Beverly Hills, inventing stories we call television sitcoms.
    Neil Postman
  404. There was a time when educators became famous for providing reasons for learning; now the become famous for inventing a method.
    Neil Postman
  405. Technology is the knack of so arranging the world that we do not experience it.
    Max Frisch
  406. The question is not, Does or doesn’t public schooling create a public? The question is, What kind of public does it create? A conglomerate of self-indulgent consumers? Angry, soulless, directionless masses? Indifferent, confused citizens? Or a public imbued with confidence, a sense of purpose, a respect for learning, and tolerance? The answer to this question has nothing whatever to do with computers, with testing, with teacher accountability, with class size, and with other details of managing schools. The right answer depends on two things and two things alone: the existence of shared narratives and the capacity of such narratives to provide and inspired reason for schooling.
    Neil Postman
  407. … at it best, schooling can be about how to make a life, which is quite different from how to make a living. Such an enterprise is not easy to pursue, since our politicians rarely speak of it, our technology is indifferent to it, and our commerce despises it. Nonetheless, it is the weightiest and most important thing to write about.
    Neil Postman
  408. … learning the following lessons: share everything, play fair, don’t hit people, put things back where you found them, clean up your own mess, wash your hands before you eat, and, of course, flush… We have ample evidence that it takes many years of teaching these values in school before they are accepted and internalized. That is why it won’t do for children to learn in isolation. The point is to place them in a setting that emphasizes collaboration, as well as sensitivity and responsibility for others.
    Neil Postman
  409. Too much apparatus, like too much bureaucracy, only inhibits the natural flow [of teaching and learning]. Free human dialogue, wandering wherever agility of mind allows, lies at the heart of education. If teachers do not have the time, the incentive, or the wit to provide that; if students are too demoralized, bored or distracted to muster the attention their teachers need of them, then that is the educational problem which has to be solved - and solved from the inside the experience of the teachers and the students.
    Theodore Roszak
  410. The evidence for the superiority of one method over another is usually given in the language of statistics, which, in spite of its abstract nature, is strangely referred to as “hard evidence.” This gives the profession a sense of making progress, and sometimes delusions of grandeur. I recently read an article in The American Educator in which the author claims that teaching methods based on research in cognitive science are “the educational equivalents of polio vaccine and penicillin.”
    Neil Postman
  411. If I may amend Niels Bohr’s remark, …, the opposite of a profound story is another profound story, by which I mean that the story of every group may be told inspiringly, without excluding its blemishes but with an emphasis on the various struggles to achieve humanity, or, to borrow from Lincoln again, the struggles to reveal the better angels of our nature. This is what once was meant by cultural pluralism.
    Neil Postman
  412. Olga was one of those modern women who like divide themselves into being that experiences and being that observes.
    Milan Kundera
  413. Trying to be witty leads to lying, more or less.
    Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
  414. My flower is ephemeral, the little prince said to himself, and she has only four thorns with which to defend herself against the world! And I’ve left her all alone where I live!
    Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
  415. Fox: “It’s the time you spent on your rose that makes your rose so important… You become responsible forever for what you’ve tamed. You’re responsible for your rose…”
    Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
  416. “People where you live,” the little prince said, “grow five thousand roses in one garden… yet they don’t find what they are looking for… And yet what they are looking for could be found in a single rose, or a little water… But eyes are blind. You have to look with the heart!”
    Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
  417. Fox: “One sees clearly only with the heart. Anything essential is invisible to the eyes.”
    Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
  418. Snake: “It’s also lonely with people.”
    Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
  419. Flower: “People? … you never know where to find them. The wind blows them away. They have no roots, which hampers them a good deal.”
    Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
  420. And he felt very unhappy. His flower has told him she was the only one of her kind in the whole universe. And here were five thousand of them, all just alike, in just one garden! She would be very annoyed, he said to himself, if she saw this… She would cough terribly and pretended to be dying, to avoid being laughed at. And I’d have to pretend to be nursing her; otherwise, she’d really let herself die in order to humiliate me. And then he said to himself, I thought I was rich because I had just one flower, and all I own is an ordinary rose. That and three volcanoes, which come up to my knee, one of which may be permanently extinct. It doesn’t make me much of a prince…
    Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
  421. King: “One must command from each what each can perform. Authority is based first of all upon reason.”
    Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
  422. King: “Then you shall pass judgement on yourself. That is the hardest thing of all. It is much harder to judge yourself than to judge others. If you succeed in judging yourself, it’s because you are truly a wise man.”
    Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
  423. “What a rite?” asked the little prince. “That’s another thing that’s been too often neglected,” said the fox. “It’s the fact that one day is different from the other days, one hour from the other hours.”
    Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
  424. Grown-ups like numbers. When you tell them about a new friend they never ask questions about what really matters. They never ask: “What does his voice sound like?” “What games does he like best?” “Does he collect butterflies?” They ask: “How old is he?” “How many brothers does he have?” “How much does he weight?” “How much money does his father make?” Only then do they think they know him. If you tell grown-ups, “I saw a beautiful red brick house, with geraniums at the windows and doves on the roof…,” they won’t be able to imagine such a house. You have to tell them, “I saw a house worth a hundred thousand francs.” Then they exclaim, “What a beautiful house”.
    Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
  425. Little Prince: “You confuse everything… You’ve got it all mixed up! … I know a planet inhabited by a red-faced gentleman. He’s never smelled a flower. He’s never looked at a star. He’s never loved anyone. He’s never done anything except add up numbers. And all day long he says over and over, just like you, “I’m a serious man! I’m a serious man!” And that puffs him up with pride. But he’s not a man at all - he’s a mushroom!”
    Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
  426. Little Prince: “In those days, I didn’t understand anything. I should have judged her according to her actions, not her words. She perfumed my planet and lit up my life. I should never have run away! I ought to have realized the tenderness underlying her silly pretensions. Flowers are so contradictory! But I was too young to know how to love her.”
    Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
  427. “The only things you learn are the things you tame,” said the fox. “People haven’t time to learn anything. They buy things ready-made in stores. But since there are no stores where you can buy friends, people no longer have friends. If you want a friend, tame me!”
    Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
  428. Everything is changing - you, your family, your neighborhood, your education, your job, your government, your relation to the others.
    Marshall McLuhan
  429. Print technology created the public. Electric technology created the mass. The public consists of separate individuals walking around with separate , fixed points of view. The new technology demands that we abandon the luxury of this posture, this fragmentary outlook.
    Marshall McLuhan
  430. The viewer of Renaissance art is systematically placed outside the frame of experience. A piazza for everything and everything in its piazza. The instantaneous world of electronic informational media involves all of us, all at once. Not detachment or frame is possible.
    Marshall McLuhan
  431. Societies have always been shaped more by the nature of the media by which men communicate than by the content of communication.
    Marshall McLuhan
  432. There is absolutely no inevitability as long as there is a willingness to contemplate what is happening.
    Marshall McLuhan
  433. The alphabet and print technology fostered and encouraged a fragmenting process, a process of specialism and of detachment. Electric technology fosters and encourages unification and involvement.
    Marshall McLuhan
  434. The public, in the sense of a great consensus of separate and distinct viewpoints, is finished. Today, the mass audience (the successor to the “public”) can be used as a creative, participatory force. It is, instead, merely given packages of passive entertainment.
    Marshall McLuhan
  435. Information pours upon us, instantaneously and continuously. As soon as information is acquired, it is very rapidly replaced by still newer information. Our electrically configured world has forced us to move from the habit of data classification to the mode of pattern recognition. We can no longer build serially, block-by-block, step-by-step, because instant communication insures that all factors of the environment and of experience coexist in a state of active interplay.
    Marshall McLuhan
  436. Students of media are persistently attacked as evaders, idly concentrating on means or processes rather than on “substance”. The dramatic and rapid changes of “substance” elude these accusers.
    Marshall McLuhan
  437. All media work us over completely. They are so pervasive in their personal, political, economic, aesthetic, psychological, moral, ethical, and social consequences that they leave no part of us untouched, unaffected, unaltered. The medium is the massage. Any understanding of social and cultural change is impossible without a knowledge of the way media work as environments.
    Marshall McLuhan
  438. Our is a brand-new world of allatonceness. “Time” has ceased, “space” has vanished. We now live in a global village … a simultaneous happening.
    Marshall McLuhan
  439. The young today reject goals. They want roles - R-O-L-E-S. That is, total involvement. They do not want fragmented, specialized goals or jobs.
    Marshall McLuhan
  440. The poet, the artist, the sleuth - whoever sharpens our perception tends to be antisocial; rarely “well-adjusted” he cannot go along with currents and trends.
    Marshall McLuhan
  441. The living room has become a voting booth. Participation via television in Freedom Marches, in war, revolution, pollution, and other events is changing everything.
    Marshall McLuhan
  442. Today’s child is growing up absurd, because he lives in two worlds, and neither of them inclines him to grow up. Growing up - that is our new work, and its total. Mere instructions will not suffice.
    Marshall McLuhan
  443. Like easel painting, the printed book added much to the new cult of individualism. The private, fixed point of view became possible and literacy conferred the power of detachment, non-involvement.
    Marshall McLuhan
  444. Professionalism is environmental. Amateurism is anti-environmental. Professionalism merges the individual into patterns of total environment. Amateurism seeks the development of the total awareness of the individual and the critical awareness of the ground rules of society. The amateur can afford to lose. The professional tends to classify and to specialize, to accept uncritically the ground rules of the environment.
    Marshall McLuhan
  445. All media are extensions of some human faculty - psychic or physical.
    Marshall McLuhan
  446. The new feeling that people have about guilt is not something that can be privately assigned to some individual, but is rather, something shared by everybody, in some mysterious way… This feeling is an aspect of the new mass culture we are moving into - a world of total involvement in which everybody is so profoundly involved with everybody else and in which nobody can really imagine what private guilt can be anymore.
    Marshall McLuhan
  447. Faraday had two qualities that more than made up for his lack of education: fantastic intuition and independence and originality of mind.
    Marshall McLuhan
  448. … I’m convinced that my existence - like everything that has ever happened - has ruffed the surface of Being, and that after my little ripple, however marginal, insignificant, and ephemeral it may have been, Being is and always will be different from what it was before. All my life I have simply believed that what is once done can never be undone and that, in fact, everything remains forever. In short, Being has a memory. And thus even my insignificance - as a bourgeois child, a laboratory assistant, a soldier, a stagehand, a playwright, a dissident, a prisoner, a president, a pensioner, a public phenomenon, and a hermit, an alleged hero but secretly a bundle of nerves - will remain here forever, or rather not here, but somewhere. But not, however, elsewhere. Somewhere here.
    Václav Havel
  449. I think that the moral order stands above the legal, political, and economic orders, and that these latter orders should derive from the former, and not be techniques for getting around its imperatives. And I believe that this moral order has a metaphysical authority in the infinite and the eternal.
    Václav Havel
  450. I think that politicians in office have a duty to work for peace and for a better and more just world; you might say that’s what they’re paid for and so it’s better that the prize go to someone who works for good cause voluntarily, and possibly at great risk.
    Václav Havel
  451. Sometimes I have the impression that the main ideal of our state is to exploit and disfigure our country to the hilt in the interest of a somewhat problematic consumer paradise for the present generation and to slap the face or kick the shins of anyone who resists this.
    Václav Havel
  452. …in democratic conditions … it’s important that politics be more than just a technology of power, but that it provides a genuine service to citizens, a service that is as disinterested as possible, based on certain ideals, a service that follows the moral order that stands above us, that takes into account the long-term interest of human race and not just what appeals to the public at any given moment … That doesn’t mean that politics must surrender all its ideals, deny its “heart”, and become a mere self-propelled, technocratic process…
    Václav Havel
  453. … I think that the creation of a new political world order requires that special attention to be paid to the problem of borders between individual spheres of civilization, a problem that can be solved only if the spheres that are momentarily wealthier cease to consider themselves superior to those that are momentarily poorer.
    Václav Havel
  454. The absence of standards creates unease even among the most notorious violators. I experienced that in prison. Even the worst criminals would have been very upset if the head of the state were to clearly approve of something criminal. Everyone has to play his own role: it’s up to the president to say you shouldn’t steal, and it’s up to the thief to steal.
    Václav Havel
  455. … everything that exists has its own purpose and system. We just don’t know, and we never will know, how to understand it. But there’s probably a reason for that too.
    Václav Havel
  456. I think that it’s a sad thing that the parties, rather than thinking about which system is best for the country, always think first of all which system is best for them at a particular time. Consequently their positions on referenda, the direct election of the president, the electoral system, and similar themes are constantly changing, or rather, being passed from party to party like a relay baton.
    Václav Havel
  457. A country that finds itself at a historical crossroads must have an idea of what it is, of its possibilities, of what it wishes to be, of what role it wants to play, of what it will put its money on, and, on the contrary, what it will try to avoid. This view must be partly the outcome of the very broad and practical discussion that draws on a variety of expert analyses, and it must reach beyond the limits of individual political programs or electoral mandates.
    Václav Havel
  458. … we will need a revolution of “heads and hearts,” as Masaryk called it, a kind of general awakening, an emphasis on seeking an alternative to the established and shopworn and very technocratic political parties…
    Václav Havel
  459. … European Union today is letting itself be dragged, with no resistance, in the same general direction as the rest of global civilization; it’s driven by the idea of growth, the creation of profit at any price, development and prosperity, although unfortunately utterly one-dimensional… Europe could be an inspiration, an example of how to try to think not only of quantity but also of quality, how not to think merely about momentary short-term material success but also about qualitative, indirect, long-term success, to revive the tradition of responsibility for the world that its culture once helped to articulate.
    Václav Havel
  460. Uncritical respect is always punished, but it is the object of that respect who is punished, not those who counter it.
    Václav Havel
  461. I could well image crowds of populists, demagogues, nationalists, and post-communists who would exploit every delay to argue, with increasing urgency, that the arrogant, consumerist, and selfish West neither recognized us nor wanted us, and therefore we must go our own way. Let us understand what that way would have entailed: it would have meant authoritarian governments flying, instead of abandoned red flag, the flag of nationalism, beneath which it would hide its own Mafia-like practices, and privatization of everything into its own hands. And reawakened nationalism would necessary lead to a new danger of confrontation. Nationalists may well be as alike as two peas in a pod, but this doesn’t necessary lead to brotherhood; on the contrary: nationalist ideologies are essentially confrontational.
    Václav Havel
  462. It was a black congregation. There was a tremendous sense of community. They sang magnificently and, in a kind of ecstasy, communicated not only with their Cristian God, but through him perhaps with all the deities that humankind has ever had. The atmosphere of friendship, mutual respect, and solidarity was fascinating.
    Václav Havel
  463. Life is beautiful because, among other things, it is unpredictable and you can never be completely prepared for what comes along.
    Václav Havel
  464. I gave a speech in Paris for the representatives of the largest multinational corporations, the actual rules of our current global world. I wrote a pointed speech that was highly critical of the behavior of global corporations, of their unscrupulousness, of the growing uniformity of the world, of the omnipresent dictatorship of advertisements, of profit, and so on.
    Václav Havel
  465. … the injunctions not to steal or kill apply everywhere, and everywhere the moral order is in some way related to the idea of eternity. In any case, it’s been shown time and again that without that relationship to eternity, any moral order will always necessary collapse.
    Václav Havel
  466. … almost no one has attempted to analyze either the reasons for the mood of antiglobalization or the errors of the INPEG, or the source of the aggressiveness of the aggressors, or the rather sad role played by media in all this.
    Václav Havel
  467. … man will carry the complete truth about himself to the grave, though someone, in the end, will know that truth after all: if not the Lord God, then at least the great memory of Being.
    Václav Havel
  468. I am an opponent of every obsession, because I consider obsessions the most dangerous of social phenomena. Thus I am also an opponent of market fundamentalism and dogmatism… But the law of profit does not guarantee anything meaningful in itself. I mention it here because market dogmatism is the part of ideology of “standardness”… I really don’t know why I should, on the basis of injunction from on high, choose a standard wife, a standard flat, amass money and material goods in the standard way, and think in a standard fashion.
    Václav Havel
  469. In principle … I believe that there are cases when it is possible and proper to go to the aid of innocent people, even at the cost of violating state sovereignty. In one of the speeches I said: a state is the work of humans, a human being is the work of God. What I meant was that defending human beings is a higher responsibility than respecting the inviolability of a state.
    Václav Havel
  470. We live in a world of intermediaries, and intermediaries for intermediaries, in a world of lobbyists, consultants, PR agents. People are paid by others to introduce someone to someone else, who will advise them how to make money on something that someone else has created. How is it possible that our population remains constant and yet we have more and more intermediaries.
    Václav Havel
  471. … modern media often lives from one day to the next, from one flashy headline to the next, so it’s no surprise that they can be so mesmerized by today that they forget about yesterday. I would even go so far as to say that the media often behave like a willfull little girl; for instance, as I write this, the Czech Republic has a prime minister whom a media turned into the most popular man in the country by far for quite a while, and then recently, in a matter of days, they turned him into the most hated. Neither view had much to do with his real qualities, good or bad.
    Václav Havel
  472. Perhaps we might all be reassured by the known fact that today’s sensation will be completely forgotten by the day after tomorrow and that everyone is already looking forward to the day after tomorrow’s sensations.
    Václav Havel
  473. Under normalization, no one believed in any ideal any longer, and the most successful were simply the most cynical.
    Václav Havel
  474. The beauty of language is that it can never capture precisely what it wants. Language is disconnected, hard, digital as it were, …, it can never completely capture something as connected as reality, experience, or our souls.
    Václav Havel
  475. It seems to me that Europe is in danger of losing its spiritual dimension in a flood of trivial concerns, such as what kind of tariffs ought to be imposed. It’s as though some fundamental discourse about the direction of the world today were lacking, a discourse about the dangers inherent in that direction, and the role that this unique community of nations can play against this planetary background.
    Václav Havel
  476. .. I genuinely believe that the absolutely fundamental difference between the European tradition and other cultures lies in the different notions of time and that it is fundamental source of the European idea of development and progress. Other cultures, on the contrary, honor the status quo, quietude, leaving things in place, etc., etc.
    Václav Havel
  477. I am secure in my independence and therefore feel no need to demonstrate it.
    Václav Havel
  478. Only a fool could believe that the nation, or the whole humanity for that matter, would change overnight and that everyone would start to behave wisely, unselfishly, altruistically, ready to make sacrifices for a good cause.
    Václav Havel
  479. People told me exactly what I would later often say to others when trying to draw them into politics: you can’t spend your whole life criticizing something and then, when you have the chance to do it better, refuse to go near it.
    Václav Havel
  480. I would develop the idea that it is we ourselves who are undermining our own identity - by the terrible way we speak, the appaling architecture we put up, our lack of respect for the landscape and historical buildings, our dubious urbanization, the way we’ve given up on the plurality of trades and small businesses, the depopulation of the countryside, the construction of ever greater monuments to consumption without increasing the productivity and efficiency of our own industries or making a sophisticated attempts to market our own products… We are becoming just another globalized country.
    Václav Havel
  481. Yesterday was the sixtieth anniversary of the end of the Second World War… It seems that Putin is treating this anniversary as somewhat of a celebration of himself and his way of governing, which understandably causes some awkwardness.
    Václav Havel
  482. When I said that we would no longer be a satellite but a partner, Gorbachev had an interesting reaction. He said that “satellite” was a very strong and inaccurate word, but that he would forgive me for using such a colorful expression because I was a literary man. And I said to myself, so this is how history is made.
    Václav Havel
  483. I would like to touch upon three matters: a) the proposed new relationship of the Church to Hus as an act of confessional reconciliation; b) the related idea of the ecumenical future of the world as a way of saving civilization; c) the meaning of the Christmas holidays and the Christmas tree.
    Václav Havel
  484. How wonderful it is, by comparison, to be a writer! You write something in a couple of weeks, and it’s here for ages. What will remain when presidents and prime ministers are gone? Some references to them in textbooks, most likely inaccurate.
    Václav Havel
  485. In subtle ways, the economic power links up with political power and the power of the media to create something once called Mafia-democracy.
    Václav Havel
  486. One simple electrician with his heart in the right place can influence the history of his nation.
    Václav Havel
  487. But America is a rather odd country. It’s very religious, and at the same time it allows the broadcast of the pope’s funeral t be interrupted by advertisements, many of which were the direct embodiment of what he had criticized fir his entire life. I found it truly hard to understand, and it made me more and more uncomfortable, until I finally switched the television off.
    Václav Havel
  488. Mainly, though, despite all the things that so upset us today, conditions now are incomparably better than they were under communism. Moreover, the country is part of such a solid system of international relationships and guarantees that any form of subjugation coming from outside now seems virtually out of the questions. I think that we have never in our entire dramatic history, enjoyed this kind of certainty before.
    Václav Havel
  489. … at moments it’s almost impossible to know whether you’re in an airport in Tokyo, a hotel lobby in Los Angeles, or a hypermarket on the outskirts of Prague. The pressure towards soulless uniformity that is perceptible everywhere today - despite the seemingly endless array of choices among a seemingly infinite array of products pretending to be different from one another - poses a great threat to all forms of uniqueness. Without even being aware of it we are subtly made more alike…
    Václav Havel
  490. What bothered me most, however, was the fact that I found a lack of conceptual vision, not only in the economy, but in our very understanding of what the state should be. “The invisible hand of the market” was supposed to take care of everything, but there are things it simply can’t take care of, and I would even say that this glorious “invisible hand” is occasionally capable of committing highly visible crimes.
    Václav Havel