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Mediated: How the Media Shapes Our World and the Way We Live in It [Paperback]

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Item Specifications...

Pages   291
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 1" Width: 5.25" Height: 8.25"
Weight:   0.6 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Feb 21, 2006
Publisher   Bloomsbury USA
ISBN  1596910321  
EAN  9781596910324  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
In this utterly original look at our modern "culture of performance," de Zengotita shows how media are creating self-reflective environments, custom made for each of us. From Princess Diana's funeral to the prospect of mass terror, from oral sex in the Oval Office to cowboy politics in distant lands, from high school cliques to marital therapy, from blogs to reality TV to the Weather Channel, "Mediated" takes us on an original and astonishing tour of every department of our media-saturated society. The implications are personal and far-reaching at the same time.

Buy Mediated: How the Media Shapes Our World and the Way We Live in It by Thomas De Zengotita, Robert W. Lawson, Ira Dilworth, Rosemary Neering, Ira Dilworth, Daniel Romer, Sylvia Plath, Erika Sausverde & Szaulius Ambrazas from our Christian Books store - isbn: 9781596910324 & 1596910321

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More About Thomas De Zengotita, Robert W. Lawson, Ira Dilworth, Rosemary Neering, Ira Dilworth, Daniel Romer, Sylvia Plath, Erika Sausverde & Szaulius Ambrazas

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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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1Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Social Sciences > General   [9673  similar products]
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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Excellent book, but (ironically) a little "blobbish"  Mar 19, 2008
De Zengotita's central tenet in "Mediated" is that images and forms the media produce serve primarily to cater to our self-centered nature, here called the "flattered self." These feed the meaningless, amorphous "blob" of postmodern consumer culture, which serves no purpose in society. As the media becomes more fractured and prevalent, messages and truths become essentially meaningless. One problem with his "blob" concept stems from its primary characteristic: amorphousness. It flexes to encompass all of De Zengotita's ideas. Ironically, in doing so, the concept of the blob diminishes the bite of his arguments, allowing him leeway to wiggle out of more detailed descriptions of his theories.

He posits that the new power afforded to individuals alters various aspects of our lives, including puberty, politics, and entertainment. People no longer are able to "fill in the blanks" in the lives of their heroes, so heroes naturally become more local and less monolithic. Individuals are afforded god-like modes of power, making the "extraordinary" commonplace. The increased rate and type of interactions become overwhelming to individuals, who find themselves unable to process or deal with them. In reality, I would say this is a straw man argument; people rarely feel overwhelmed by information. What is not useful or required passed quickly through, not remembered and not harmful.

Like many scholars of a certain age, De Zengotita's is pessimistic about the possibilities of media. One of his many suggestions is that a music concerts now "provide fans with the only experiences of transcendent social belonging most of them will ever know" (given that they are not religious and not "joiners"). It's a provocative statement - but would he recognize such an event if it he found it? I believe he would be less likely to recognize such an event than other scholars who gives new forms of mass self-expression more credence. On other fronts, he is more convincing - take for instance his examples of interactions between "real" versus artificial through the complex interactions between audience and players in reality television, or the public revelation and cleansing of talk shows.

The "flattered self" and "meworld" cannot fully explain the multitude of interactions and motives encountered in modern life. It's a difficulty we encounter since the rise of mass media, where the media are inexorable from its audience and participants. On the dust jacket, Norman Mailer praises the book, saying "there are anywhere from three to ten stimulating ideas on each page." Indeed, De Zengotita's ideas are poignant, and excuse his occasional overreaching or unconvincing example. (still, using one's own children is an example of the latter... "weak tea" as a professor of mine frequently said)

The idea of the "flattered self" is an entirely appropriate metaphor for the current age. This basic concept is primarily what makes this book a provocative read. At one point, this was its title. If this remained as the title, the focus refined, and its arguments condensed, "Mediated" would be a true classic. Unfortunately, it's not quite at the level of Neil Postman, although one can detect a few strokes of his felt-tipped pen in De Zengotita's carefully considered arguments.
Overly cute, embarrassing style  Nov 18, 2007
I eagerly awaited the delivery of this book. I tried my best to like it. I really did, but after the second day of reading I simply had to stop. The style utilized is grossly,overly cute and embarrassing for an educated writer. The book cries for an editor that would have forced a strict expository style on this addled writer. I found the book so extremely irritating that I stopped in mid-book. Such an interesting topic so mangled by an untalented author. Save your money!
intelligent, but lacks intellectual discipline...  Sep 26, 2007
Reading this book is like having to listen to your stoned parents bragging about how modern and cool they are for having a tevo, while you are busy hooking it up for them because they still can't figure out how to use it. Although de Zengotita brings up some interesting and important points, he has an incredibly convoluted (and, frankly, smug) writing style which unfortunately seems to be passing for intellectual rigor in the academy these days. A bigger problem is that he hasn't made the effort to organize these insights into any coherent theory or even anything coherent, period. The result is that we are left snippets of insight coupled with the vague notion that he's onto something really important, and frustrated with his refusal to exercise any intellectual or editorial discipline so that we can be more clear about what exactly that is.
A clear-eyed book  Sep 3, 2007
I'm probably like most people who read this book: I'm reading it a second time in order to pull together all the sense-making pieces, and trying to re-think my experiences growing up in America in the period de Zengotita describes. He hits many nails on the head.
My only disappointment with this book (an it's not really a legitimate one,since the disclaimer up front says that mediation means different things to different people)is that de Zengotita did not give so much as a passing glance at language as the ultimate Mediator, the building block of all mediation. Think for instance how the word "creation" metaphysically structures and interprets the whold world/universe--etc, etc. Addressing language as mediation, though, would certainly have pulled the author off his rails or turned a moderate book into a massive volume. But the advantage of including language as a mediator is that it gives a dizzying recursiveness to the book: through words, de Zengotita is mediating mediation to us. And even beyond that: things have meaning because of what they're called. The author refers to the few things in life that are not mediated: paper clips, your feet under the blanket, accidents, necessity: well, even by referring to them he has mediated them.
Maybe it's a paradox that mediation creates options, but is not itself an option.
Loose Associations Do Not An Argument Make  Jun 17, 2007
The front cover of the paperback version has a quote from Norman Mailer: "'Mediated' has the same liveliness and intense intellectualizing as Marshall McLuhan's 'Understanding Media.'" After reading this book, I have come to the conclusion that Mailer didn't think much of either.
This book is a collection of loose associations underlaid with hostility towards some of the more pampered and clueless members of our society (his students, perhaps). The style has zing, but that is not a valid substitution for reasoned argument.
Worst of all, the book posits that the public is spoiled and in charge. This flies in the face of the notions of manufactured consent, of debate and consumption within a narrowly prescribed range of acceptable alternatives, of the subtle and not so subtle inculcation of fear of speaking out that has been noted by authors like Noam Chomsky and Al Gore.
The "whatever" response the author notes may well be an expression of the futility of expecting anyting better, not an expression of bored power. The public may not be so much "mediated" as confused and shaped by an ambiguous and dishonest array of information. The "method acting" may well be intimidated and overly cautious speech--in that sense, it is, indeed, self-conscious.
This book does note some cultural markers, but ties them together poorly. With the exception of the chapter on the acting styles of Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, where it does come to life impressively, it is a terrible book.

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