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Monday, April 17, 2006

Cultural brain damage

I am constrained by the thought that the decline of language may have proceeded so far that most people no longer perceive it as a problem. An analogy here might clarify what I mean. It is said that the brain is the only organ of our body that feels no pain and therefore does not know when it is injured. The brain does not regard brain damage as a problem. If we think of language as the brain of a 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 public-relations hype, to imagery disguised as thought, 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, and conclude with Dr. Pangloss that this is the best of all possible worlds.

- Neil Postman, Conscientious Objections