Mediated How the Media Shapes Our World and the Way We Live in It


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Bloomsbury USA


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1596910321

9781596910324

304 Pages

$18.00

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Winner of the Marshall McLuhan Award for Outstanding Book in the Field of Media Ecology Just when it seemed there was nothing new to say about the media, along comes a book that transcends the conventional wisdom with an original vision—one that unites our most intimate personal concerns with far-reaching historical trends in an accessible way. From Princess Diana's funeral to the prospect of mass terror, from oral sex in the Oval Office to cowboy politics in different lands, from high school cliques to marital therapy, from the hip-hop nation to climbing Mt. Everest, from blogs to reality TV to the Weather Channel, Mediated takes on every last department of our media-saturated society. What emerges is a portrait of a populace immersed in options, surrounded by representations, driven to unprecedented levels of self-consciousness—and obligated by these circumstances to transform lives into performances.

REVIEWS

Praise for Mediated

"A fine roar of a lecture about how the American mind is shaped by (too much) media . . . De Zengotita . . . is an adventurer of the digitized American psyche."—The Washington Post Book World

"A spectacular widescreen critique of contemporary American culture."—The Christian Science Monitor

"Reading Thomas de Zengotita's Mediated is like spending time with a wild, wired friend, the kind who keeps you up late and lures you outside your comfort zone with a speed rap full of brilliant notions."—O, The Oprah Magazine

"Mediated has the same liveliness and intense intellectuality as Marshall McLuhan's Understanding Media, which is a way of saying there are anywhere from three to ten stimulating ideas on every page. As McLuhan presented us with the realization that modernism was coming to an end, so de Zengotita has a great deal to say about the saturation of postmodernism in our existence today. Let me offer my salute to Thomas de Zengotita."—Norman Mailer

"If the world as we perceive it is made by, for, and of the media, Thomas de Zengotita is our Captain Cook and Christopher Columbus. He sets out to discover what we see and how we know and the result is a brilliant book, as entertaining as it is insightful."—Lewis Lapham, author of Waiting for the Barbarians

"A conversation with Thomas de Zengotita is about the most engaging and enlightening experience a thinking person can have. This book feels as natural and personal as having Tom in your own living room, drawing you out, considering your responses, and then bringing you to new levels of awareness. Here's a man who understands both the media and his medium so completely that the connections he makes across the vast landscapes of popular culture end up feeling like spontaneous discoveries by the reader. Invite Tom into your head and heart by all means, and try walking around the world really seeing for a while. You may decide to stay that way."—Douglas Rushoff, author of Media Virus! and ScreenAgers

"Read Thomas de Zengotita's Mediated for a brilliant reflection on postmodern culture and our peculiar, performing, contemporary selves and the media that make and reflect us. It's a great read, and you'll never feel the same about your kids, your friends, or yourself again."—Frances Fox Piven, author of Poor People’s Movements and The War at Home

"De Zengotita's style is both reflective and sardonic as he delves into the ways the media has shaped our individual reactions to modern culture and events. Influenced by the media-inspired 'culture of performance,' we now live our lives as if we are performers practicing method acting, he maintains. We go through the motions of expected reactions to everything from the 9/11 terrorist attacks to Princess Diana's death to documentaries of the Kennedy assassination and the civil rights movement. The Internet, satellite television, and a host of technological products and services now give us the impression of participating in current and historical events to such an extent that we can barely distinguish the varying levels of what de Zengotita categorizes as ranging from the real-real to the unreal-real. Analyzing car commercials, cell-phone usage, the social art of teenagers, and other aspects of modern culture, with keen detail and wit, de Zengotita offers an amazing look at how media affects our culture, our choices, and our responses to our media-filtered lives. Completely absorbing, amusing, and insightful."—Vanessa Bush, Booklist

"In a deceptively colloquial, intellectually dense style, de Zengotita posits that since the 1960s, Americans have belonged to a culture of reflexivity, and the media in all their forms have put us there. We're bombarded from childhood with so many images putting 'us'—the individual person—at the center of the universe that we cannot help thinking that this is where we belong. We live in a Times Square world, says the Harper's contributing editor, and thus we become the ultimate Descartesians: media think only of us, therefore we think only of ourselves. The result of this self-centeredness is that we become increasingly numbed by the bombardment of images and, in a variation on the 'if a tree falls in the woods' query, we can no longer imagine our premediated lives. Media imagery has given us an omniscient perspective—we can be on the grassy knoll, by the Twin Towers, on the beach as the tsunami hits—while never having to incur the horrors of being there. 'Mediation' inevitably closes us off to the unmediated world, home of those victims of the tsunami whose lives are hideously hard and where no media put them front and center. This provocative, extreme, and compelling work is a must-read for philosophers of every stripe."—Publishers Weekly

Reviews from Goodreads

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BOOK EXCERPTS

Read an Excerpt

Thomas de Zengotita is a contributing editor at Harper's Magazine and holds a Ph.D. in anthropology from Columbia University. He teaches at the Dalton School and at the Draper Graduate Program at New York University.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR


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  • Thomas de Zengotita is a contributing editor at Harper's Magazine and holds a Ph.D. in anthropology from Columbia University. He teaches at the Dalton School, and at the Draper Graduate Program at New York University.
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