娱乐至死


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娱乐至死

Amusing Ourselves to Death



奥威尔担心我们憎恨的东西会毁掉我们,而赫胥黎担心的是,我们将毁于我们热爱的东西。印刷时代造就了理性思辨的人,电视时代造就了娱乐至死的人。媒介通过是一种潜移默化的隐形力量,塑造着人类的认知。

George Orwell feared that what we hated would destroy us. Aldous Leonard Huxley worried that we would be ruined by what we loved. The printing age produced rational thinkers, and the television age made people entertain to death. The media has shaped human cognition through subtle invisible forces.



在十九世纪,印刷时代造就了理性思辨的美国人,按照波兹曼的说法,这和阅读文化息息相关,因为文字本身就非常适合传递思辨性的观点。不过,电视则恰恰相反,这种媒介技术并不适合严肃的逻辑思考,电视上每个镜头的平均时间只有3.5秒,充满了视觉的刺激、动态的切换,因此,波兹曼非常不屑地吐槽说:在电视上,复杂的措辞,充分的证据和逻辑都派不上用场,有时候连句法也被丢到一边,但这并没有什么关系,政治家们关心的是给观众留下印象,而不是给观众留下观点。在他的年代,电视机的出现开始对我们的生活产生了巨大变化,媒体的传播途径变得开阔和便捷,不像以前那样只能通过报纸或电报。这种速度上的推进使我们更快速的接触每一步信息,而电视为了吸引人,自然不会以传统的教书似的方式进行沟通,娱乐化的模式便出现了。

In the 19th century, the printing age created rational, speculative Americans. As Neil Postman put it, this is closely related to the reading culture, because the writing system is perfect for conveying speculative ideas. But television is the opposite. This media technology is not fit for serious logical thinking. The average time per shot on television is only 3.5 seconds, full of visual stimuli and dynamic switching. So Postman said with great disdain: On TV, complicated diction, sufficient evidence and logic are useless. Sometimes even syntax is thrown aside. But it doesn't matter. Politicians care to impress the audience, not to leave them a point of view. In his time, TV sets emerged to make great changes in our lives. The channels of communication of the media spread wide and convenient, not confined to newspapers and telegrams as before. This speed push allowed us to get in touch with information at each step more quickly. To attract the audience, TV programs naturally did not communicate in the traditional way of teaching. So the pattern of entertainment emerged.



文学、宗教、音乐,等等都希望借助这样一个便捷的工具来推进,而找到一个让普通人也能接受的途径,娱乐的方式解决了这个问题。在这种现象的初期,我想是有意义的,那个时代的人们并没有太多机会了解更多知识,电视的娱乐性也会体现出它的价值。波兹曼认为,电视特别适合做娱乐节目。所以说,娱乐其实是电视的最佳用途。

Literature, religion and music want to advance with such a convenient tool, and find a way to be accepted by ordinary people. The way of entertainment has solved the problem. I think it was of significance in the early days of this phenomenon. People of that era did not have much opportunity to learn more knowledge, and the entertainment of television would reflect its value. Postman thought that television wass especially suitable for entertainment programs. So entertainment is actually the best use of television.


可后续的发展却不那么回事,不仅是那些打发时间的,连一些真正渴望知识的也习惯于去电视中学习。那这样真的好吗?当然,我不能否认电视中不可能什么知识也没有,问题只在于它的表达方式上,它太过于附和普通人的心理需求了,也就是说太过盲目和附庸了。如果我们用电视来思考严肃的政治信息,就会变成娱乐至死的物种。书中说到这么一句:文化将成为一场滑稽戏,等待我们的可能是一个娱乐至死的“美丽新世界”,在那里“人们感到痛苦的不是他们用笑声代替了思考,而是他们不知道自己为什么笑以及为什么不再思考”。

But that's not what happened next. Not only those who passed the time, but also some who were really thirst for knowledge had got used to studying on TV. Is that really good? Of course, I can't claim there's no knowledge on TV. The problem is simply with its way of expression, which is too attached to the psychological needs of ordinary people, that is, too blind and obedient. If we think about serious political messages with TV, it will become a species of entertainment to death. The book noted that culture would be a farce, and what awaited us might be a "brave new world" of entertainment to death, where "what makes people miserable is not they laugh instead of thinking, but that they don't know why they laugh and why they don't think any more". 

这样的结果让人感到可怕,莺歌燕舞中的芸芸众生只是为了娱乐而娱乐,而对于如何生成一套解释和认知世界的理论,娱乐无能为力。当世界在黑暗的语境中难得地安静下来时,焦虑和无力感将如鼠疫一样蔓延,只有当下一次娱乐狂欢降临,人群才会告别墓地般的安静,这种恶性循环已经成为一种稳定的机制,也是我们时代病灶所在。我们依从于一种不知为何的行为,却不明何以为之,甚至都不愿去思之。这样的文化传递方式正在改变我们的生活。

Such a result is frightening. The myriad beings enjoy the joys of life just for the fun. There is nothing entertainment can do about generating a set of theories to explain and recognize the world. When the world has a rare moment of quieting down in a dark context, anxiety and powerlessness will spread like plague. Only when the next carnival of entertainment falls will the crowd bid farewell to the grave-like silence. This vicious circle has become a stable mechanism and the focus of infection of our time. We rely on an inexplicable behavior, but don't know why, and don’t even want to think about it. Such a way of cultural transmission is changing our lives.

波兹曼的时代电脑还没有像今天这样在我们的日常生活中无可替代,但他也已对可以预见的电脑时代提出了警告,而今日的事实比他猜想的更让人悲观。在今天,我们被淹没在各种电子信息中,不论电子产品以怎样的形式来接触我们,它的演绎方式始终没有变,总是习惯于把娱乐性放在第一位,互联网最大的问题之一,便是让我们失去了阅读和思考的耐心。

In Postman's time, computers were not as irreplaceable in daily lives as they are today. But he still warned about the foreseeable computer age. Today's facts are more pessimistic than he suspected. We are now submerged in all kinds of electronic information. No matter how electronic products contact us, its deductive way has never changed, as it has always put entertainment first. One of the biggest problems of the Internet is to let us lose the patience of reading and thinking.


为什么害怕,并不是认为娱乐会让我们腐化,而是我们太简单地用娱乐去考虑每一件事情,或者连思考的娱乐都放弃了。

Why are we afraid? It is not that entertainment will corrupt us, but that we simply think of everything as entertainment, or even give up the entertainment of thinking.


作者简介 About Author

沈佳祺 Johnson Shen

所有的相遇,都是久别重逢。不知不觉在CNOOD已经六年多了。在这样一个关怀他人,提升自我的集体中,始终能让自己充满正能量。走遍世界的角落,带着自由而无用的灵魂。

“Every occasion of encounter is a reunion after a long separation. I have been working at CNOOD for more than six years before I know it. I am always filled with positive energy in such a mutually caring and self-promoting organization. With a free and useless soul, I’m going across every corner of the world.”


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