A paradox lies at the heart of our modern media realities: as our instruments of communication become more and more complex, the messages they convey become increasingly simple. Television, for example, is now our main source of news. But while CNN and CSPAN are capable of providing more information than ever before, and it a greatly accelerated pace, their explanations of complex social and economic events are reduced to the sound bite, now shortened even more to the sound blip.
In this brilliant, prophetic book, Frank Zingrone shows how mass media, and all electronic technology, simplify our ability to represent experience. Reality is becoming for us entertainingly mediated, with nature itself becoming a filmic simulation of reality with media access from our living rooms. We watch gourmet cooks prepare complex meals on TV while increasing our consumption of convenience foods. We become increasingly sedentary while accessing escalating amounts of mass sport.
The result of this overload? A paralysis that keeps us from taking social or political action, that confines us to consume as directed by the images created by advertisers. A paralysis that cripples public discourse. A paralysis that deadens the vitality of tradition and fosters dispersonalization.
In The Media Simplex, Zingrone charts a path through the maze of modern media overload. In doing this, he gives us insights into retrieving meaning from the edge of chaos.
Frank Zingrone, a comprehensivist in media, chaos theory, and twentieth-century literature, is a founding member of the department of communications at York University in Toronto, where he is a senior scholar and fellow of Vanier College. He has also taught at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Zingrone is co-editor of Essential McLuhan and Who Was Marshall McLuhan?, and has published two works of poetry, Traces and Strange Attraction.