Freeing Ourselves from the Tyranny of Print
Innovative educator calls for "all-media literacy."
When slaves turn on their masters, there is a bitterness and lack of logic in their attack which they inevitably regret once they have achieved their freedom. Our civilization is just starting to free itself from the tyranny of print. Print is not a bad thing in itself, but it doesn't merit the continuous monopoly which it has had in the past. Print, like any other finite being, should be asked to do only those things which it can best do.
The new media have busted the linear monopoly of print. Like most revolutions, this one was not led by the establishment. The elite cultures, especially the schools, are the vested interest here. Western education is built around the book. Much of our research is patterned on the fragmenting habits of print. Even Freud is culture-bound. Even our movies and TV have not broken the spell of print-oriented man, (sic) because they are made by such men. The monopoly of print is over. It's only now a question of ratifying the fact and adapting ourselves and our institutions to the fact. It will not be easy.
Print is not a bad thing in itself, but it doesn't merit the continuous monopoly which it has had in the past.
Is it worth doing? Is anything else worth doing? Our habits and modes of perception pervade everything we do as human beings: our interpersonal relationships, our habits of inquiry, our psychological makeup, our work. It's that basic. Our current frantic and almost neurotic concern about literacy is but one example. An all media literacy should command the same sense of urgency and commitment. It will if it is understood. Understanding takes time.
What agencies of society should lead the way? Those two giants who don't speak to each other - the school and the mass media.
Anyone for dialogue?
---- An excerpt from A Handful of Postulates, 1966.