Monday, January 17, 2005

Script vs. Screen

Two books I ordered have arrived:

Reel Spirituality by Robert Johnston
The Vanishing Word by Arthur Hunt III

Two books from opposite poles in some ways, one extols the virtues of films while the other warns against the loss of a word-centric mind.

If it shows anything, it is that I have not gotten off my hobby horse. Being a kind of media junkie myself (as labeled by some nice people), social critic Neil Postman (who remains a favourite author) helped me look across the fence. The late Postman who claimed not to even have an email address is insightful and extremely quotable and I poured through 5 or 6 of his books quite quickly. I loved the way he dissected our image conscious and technology-obsessed culture with the slightest hint of cynicism.

Of course there’s Quentin Schultze’s Habits of the High Tech Heart, which a friend has been bugging me to look into. It’s on my list of books to read this year (Yes, I have a copy, Tony). Marva Dawn called it an “open-eyed, mind-boggling, soul-piercing look” at society’s love affair with cyber-myths of progress.

Then there’s Endangered Minds by Jane Healy, a book that sat on the must-read list of books of hundreds of homeschoolers for a time, and I just had to get my hands on it too. Healy ponders over why today’s kids are skipping mental activities like reading for less arduous ones like pushing the TV remote buttons. Hers is a book that indicates a shift in child development studies – from behavioural science, to brain science. If you can get through her medical gobbledygook, it’s an eye-opener. Her other book Failure to Connect took a dig at computers, but I found it harder-going and scanned through the last half.

Neither a techno freak or a closet Luddite, I do appreciate the ongoing tussle between word and image (or script vs. screen , as someone said). For a person who straddles both worlds daily, my butt has taken its share of punishment so I understand a little about the stakes involved. There are larger issues undoubtedly, and I suppose we have McLuhan to thank for opening up Pandora’s upgraded techno-box.

The reality of our postmodern generation and the technology we all take for granted requires engagement and response. Now to switch off the computer, turn off the dvd, and really, really dig into those books.

1 comment:

Jim said...

So...did you read the second one yet? :)