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Mediated by Thomas De Zengotita can only be described as one of the more interesting and bizarre books I’ve read in quite awhile. The only way to describe it is to say that in places it was like reading a Lewis Black rant — although he doesn’t quite have Black’s comedic presentation skills when he does take the stage.

The book and his work are hyped as picking up where Marshall McLuhan left off, and he does bow in the direction of McLuhan as well as others. (Although he avoids citations or other scholarly trappings, he does note how much he owes to McLuhan “Ong, Lasch, Boorstin, Postman, Harvey, Sennett, Lapham, Gitlin, Rifkin, Rushkof, Gabler…” et al.). He clearly comes to the project with many misgivings about the postmodern “mediation” process that we are all subject to — and he hints at times that in earlier forms the book was pure Luddite “rage against the [mediating] machine”. But as it stands, the book emerges as observational, insightful and filled with resignation — this is the way it is, he implies, and in some respects it is bad but in some respects it is okay….

Some highlights of the work I come away with include:
1. we are all Method Actors now;
2. the social Blob has taken over — shades of Hannah Pitkin’s characterization of Arendt’s fear “social”;
3. the child-centeredness of our mediate culture — we are just taking soooo much longer to grow up;
4. the “you”-ness of our age — De Zengotita would certainly have understood why “you” was Time’s Person of the Year…;
5. the pressure of crunch time;
6. the meaningfulness and vacuousness of “whatever”, “awesome” and similar keywords for our age;
7. the core differences between Clinton and Bush from the mediated society perspective;
8. the emergence of “everyone” as Nietzsche’s Übermensch;
9. the importance of reading John Locke in order to understand our world;
and so on.

I can say part of me enjoyed the read once I settled into the author’s style — just as I enjoy Lewis Black after an initial adjustment. But the academic in me wishes this would have been a more scholarly work that would include all those bothersome references and elaborations that others abhor….

September 26th, 2007 Posted by | Marshall McLuhan, media, media studies, postmodernism, Thomas De Zengotita | 2 comments