Media Unlimited, Revised Edition How the Torrent of Images and Sounds Overwhelms Our Lives

Todd Gitlin




Trade Paperback

272 Pages



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In this look at our electronically glutted, speed-addicted world, Todd Gitlin evokes a reality of relentless sensation, instant transition, and nonstop stimulus, which he argues is anything but progress. He shows how all media, all the time fuels celebrity worship, paranoia, and irony, and how attempts to ward off the onrush become occasion for yet more media. Far from bringing about a “new information age,” Gitlin argues, the digital torrent has fostered a society of disposable emotions and casual commitments, and threatens to make democracy a sideshow. In a new afterword, Gitlin takes measure of the most recent wave of inundation in the form of iPods, blogs, and YouTube.

Both a startling analysis and a charged polemic, Media Unlimited reveals the unending stream of manufactured images and sounds as a defining feature of our civilization and a perverse culmination of Western hopes for freedom.


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Chapter 1
On my bedroom wall hangs a print of Vermeer’s The Concert, painted around 1660. A young woman is playing a spinet. A second woman, probably her maid, holds a letter. A cavalier stands between them, his back to us. A landscape is painted on the raised lid of the spinet, and on the wall hang two paintings, a landscape and The Procuress, a work by Baburen, another Dutch artist, depicting a man and two women in a brothel. As in many seventeenth-century Dutch paintings, the domestic space is decorated by paintings. In wealthy Holland, many homes, and not only bourgeois ones, featured
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  • Todd Gitlin

  • Todd Gitlin is a professor of journalism and sociology at Columbia University and the author of twelve other books, including The Sixties, Inside Prime Time, The Twilight of Common Dreams, and The Bulldozer and the Big Tent. He lives in New York City.