Book written by Jerry Mander, a sort of capitalist turned hippy who argues that television is bad. Written in 1976, but most definitely still applicable. warning: possible luddite nut-case.
It made me stop watching television.

It was refreshing to see this book's title appear on this site. That book has, for me, changed my already sketchy opinion of television, since I was raised on cable access but upon leaving the nest, I've yet to use a TV for anything more than watch rented movies.

Like other books that extrapolate the woes of the media, this book was already ahead of its time. Being written in the 70's, this book's author had already begun to see the rapid pace and effect of television's impact on society.

There is not one person to whom I have lent this book that didn't walk away more informed. I am not anti-television as much as I am constantly craving to be more aware of my surroundings. I do have a Kill Your Television bumper sticker on my Festiva, as well as a Drive Now Talk Later bumper sticker I got from the NPR show Car Talk, which are equally beloved. For me, neither is a simple statement of cool rebellion, but a call for self-awareness.

"4 Arguments" is a great piece of thinking, one of those reads that's not a revelation so much as a condensation nucleus, something that months of thinking gels around, triggering a phase change from supersaturated liquid to a hard crystal matrix.

Mander, the author, is angry as hell. And if you aren't angry as hell by the end of the book, then there's something seriously wrong with your outrage organ. To say that the book is only about what's wrong with TV is to unjustly limit the scope and force of this book's argument. Instead, "4 Arguments" uses television as a condensation nucleus for what's wrong with life in the postindustrial era. He talks about the effect of light on the human organism, how it regulates our sleeping and our appetites. He talks about the effect of artificial light, fluorescent light and TV light. He talks about the modern office as a sensory depravation chamber where the worker is slowly driven insane by the lack of sensory stimulus. He talks about the effects of organic, human conversation and literacy on cognitive function. Yes, the high Cassandra wail of his luddism gets a bit shrill (I'm an appropriate technologist myself), but to paraphrase Voltaire, isn't slaying the bugbear (bete noir) enough, in and of itself? If you have ever had a twinge of doubt about this medium, under the control of bloodless corporate vampires, please read this book.

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