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Bonfires of the Humanities:

Television, Subliteracy, and Long-Term Memory Loss

David Marc

Bonfire of the Humanities cover In his book, Bonfires of the Humanities, David Marc observes the disintegration of historical consciousness and looks to the rise of television and the electronic environment for the causes of these changes in our print literacy.He sees a decline in the humanities on college campuses as what follows concern over political correctness, the growing tolerance for academic cheating, and institutional grade inflation.

Individuals, Marc tells us, need to engage the world as activist intellecturals. Television and the mass media change the way people come to know things (p. 22), encouraging viewers to accept a culture of simulation. This acceptance of a virtual reality leads to our no longer being able to distinguish ourselves from machines by our intelligence, but only by invoking biology (p. 148).

By relinquishing our activist intellectural interaction with the world, we lose sight of what is essential about mind that cannot be captured by machines. Instead, we are too easily led to believe our identity can be simulated, and as in virtual reality, identify can change rapidly from one thing to another. The metaphor for thinking about life itself them becomes "cycling through."

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