Image vs Word

Neil Postman in Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business (Penguin, 2005) p. 9:

“‘Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water beneath the earth’ [Exodus 20:4]. I wondered then, as so many others have, as to why the God of these people would have included instructions on how they were to symbolize, or not symbolize, their experience. It is a strange injunction to include as a part of an ethical system unless its author assumed a connection between forms of human communication and the quality of a culture. We may hazard a guess that a people who are being asked to embrace an abstract, universal deity would be rendered unfit to do so by the habit of drawing pictures or making statues or depicting their ideas in any concrete, iconographic forms. The God of the Jews was to exist in the Word and through the Word, an unprecedented conception requiring the highest order of abstract thinking.”

2 thoughts on “Image vs Word

  1. I have read it. It’s okay but not spectacular. The challange is to find authors who elevate the word without dissing the visual arts and technology. Not easy to come by.

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