November 10, 2005

Reposted: Media, Distraction, and English -- by Bruce Lin

“And now here is my little secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”

- the Fox in The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery

The Representation and the Represented

Two things to consider when an idea is being presented: WHAT is being represented -- the real meaning? And HOW is it being represented -- the representation? It seems the current trend is moving toward playing with the representations – TV shows with talking heads talking a lots when actually little message is being carried; movies saturated with special effects and breathtaking actions that the storylines hardly matter. We've watched so much on the assassination of President Chen and so much of our time has been spent on it and in the end so little was revealed. We naively think we are free to choose what to see. Sadly, not so. Our choices and senses are railroaded by the media industry, whose major purpose is to make a quick buck, and we are spending our precious time helping them.

The other day, a student told me a good movie she'd just seen. When asked what the movie was about, she had hard time expressing herself: “I don't know how to put it…you have to see it yourself.” I wonder whether her senses have been bombarded by too much media stimulation that they no longer function well. It'd be great if we focus on seeing things as they are, rather than on the representations.

What Does It Mean to You?

When the representation dominates, our senses would have hard time to reach out – you watch news for 24 hours and gain very little; you have all kinds of books to read but you read very few; you read thousands of product catalogs and still don't know what to buy…. We are constantly distracted by the complicated sign system technology brings. The purpose of this short essay is to let you be aware of this phenomenon and hopefully you can be in control of what and when to learn.


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