To demonstrate the power of analog and digital television on the brain and mind, and its effects through light and images.

This research is based on excerpts and adaptation of the book "Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television" by Jerry Mander and the whole concept of the Brain Nerves as presented by Numbers 1317.

The four arguments proceed through four dimensions of television's role and impact. Each of them can be observed separately from the others, but they also intertwine and overlap each other.

  • The first argument is theoretical and environmental. It attempts to set the framework by which we can understand television's place in modern society. Yet, this argument is not about television itself. It is about a process, already long under way, which has successfully redirected and confined human experience and therefore knowledge and perceived reality.

    We have all been moved into such a narrow and deprived channel of experience that a dangerous instrument like television can come along and seem useful, interesting, sane and worthwhile at the same time it further boxes people into a physical and mental condition appropriate for the emergence of autocratic control.

  • The second argument concerns the emergence of the controllers. That television would be used and expanded by the present powers-that-be was inevitable, and should have been predictable at the outset. The technology permits no other controllers.

  • The third argument concerns the effects of television upon individual human bodies and minds, effects that suit the purposes of the people who control the medium.

  • The fourth argument demonstrates that television has no democratic potential. The technology itself places absolute limits on what may pass through it. The medium, in effect, chooses its own content from a very narrow field of possibilities. The effect is to drastically confine all human understanding within a rigid channel. What binds the four arguments together is that they deal with aspects of television that are not reformable. What is revealed in the end is that there is ideology in the technology itself. To speak of television as "neutral" and therefore subject to change is as absurd as speaking of the reform of a technology such as guns.

As humans have moved into totally artificial environments, direct contact with and knowledge of the planet has been cut. Disconnected, like astronauts floating in space, we cannot know up from down or truth from fiction. Conditions are appropriate for the implantation of arbitrary realities. Television is an example of this, a serious one, since it greatly accelerates the problem.

Human beings no longer trust personal observation, even of the self-evident, until it is confirmed by scientific or technological institutions. Human beings have lost insight into natural processes: how the world works; the human role as one of many interlocking parts of the worldwide ecosystem because natural processes are now exceedingly difficult to observe.

These two conditions combine to limit our knowledge and understanding to what we are told. They also leave us unable to judge the reliability or unreliability of the information we receive. The problem begins with the physical environment in which we live.

Most people spend their lives within environments created by human beings. Natural environments have largely given way to human-created environments. What we see, hear, touch, taste, smell, feel and understand about the world has been processed for us. Our experiences of the world can no longer be called direct, or primary. They are secondary, mediated experiences. When we are walking in a forest, we can see and feel what the planet produces directly.

Forests grow on their own, without human intervention. When we see a forest, or experience it in other ways, we can count on the experience being directly between us and the planet. It is not mediated, interpreted or altered.

On the other hand, when we live in cities, no experience is directly between individuals and the planet. Virtually all experience is mediated in some way. Concrete covers whatever would grow from the ground. Buildings block the natural vistas. The water we drink comes from a faucet, not from a stream or the sky. All foliage has been confined by human considerations and redesigned according to human tastes. There are no wild animals, there are no rocky grounds, no cycle of bloom and decline. There is not even night and day. No food grows anywhere.

Most of us give little importance to this change in human experience of the world, if we notice it at all. We are so surrounded by a reconstructed world that it is difficult to grasp how astonishingly different it is from the world of only one hundred years ago, and that it bears virtually no resemblance to the world in which human beings lived for thousand of years before that. That this might affect the way we think, including our understanding of how our lives are connected to any non-human system, is rarely considered.

In fact, most of us assume that human understanding is now more thorough than before, that we know more than we ever did. This is because we have such faith in our rational, intellectual processes and the institutions we have created that we fail to observe their limits.


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