This essay appears in Future Visions: New Technologies of the Screen, eds. Philip Hayward and Tana Wollen (London: British Film Institute, 1993): pp. 90-122.
Plato would probably disparage the ubiquitous TV den as a modernised version of his gloomy Cave portending dire consequences for the future of culture. Shackled by nothing more sinister than potato chips and beer in an easy chair, passive spectators watch flickering shadows cast by a reality that passes them by in some remote elsewhere. The progenitor of Western philosophy would most likely agree with his contemporary progeny who deride television as a retrograde cultural force that numbs the intellect while it panders to the appetites.
|Essay to come|