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A Is for Ox: The Collapse of Literacy and the Rise of Violence in an Electronic Age [Paperback]

Barry Sanders
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Sept. 26 1995 Vintage
The failure of increasing numbers of young people to attain even minimum levels of literacy signals a catastrophe at the deepest levels of our culture. A Is for Ox is an important and impassioned work that both proves this conclusion and suggests what can be done to change it.

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Review

"A brilliant, disturbing reflection on the collapsing moral order of post-modern America. If literacy is the wellspring of selfhood, as Sanders makes clear, our aggressive, image-addicted society is unwittingly committing cultural suicide."--Mike Davis

From the Publisher

"A brilliant, disturbing reflection on the collapsing moral order of post-modern America. If literacy is the wellspring of selfhood, as Sanders makes clear, our aggressive, image-addicted society is unwittingly committing cultural suicide."--Mike Davis

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Most helpful customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Thoughtful rant March 3 2003
By Jzig
Sanders does a wonderful job articulating the reasoning behind many current debates about language, education, literacy, and the shifting definition of written communication. I highly recommend this book, along with Leonard Shlain's The Alphabet versus the Goddess (which offers an alternative view) as food for thought to anyone who teaches, designs, communicates...
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By A Customer
Here's another cultural critic (among a few but growing number) who calls our fascination with electronic media into question. Barry Sanders argues that literacy is on the decline, in large measure because of our fixation on electronically created sources of "knowledge" -- tv, computer games, videos, software. The problem is, these much-heralded technological breakthroughs fail to give us a coherent sense of our own "voice." Sanders believes that the narrative power of true literary sources (stories, myths,and BOOKS, DAMMIT!) provides us with a necessary framework for interpreting our own pains and frustrations, and connects us to others in meaningful ways. In a culture where more and more of the young prefer to be amused by passively responding to electronic images, these same persons find their angst disconnected from the context of shared humanity. No wonder then, that we read about senseless killings where child-perpetrators feel no remorse for their victims. No acquired voice, no humanity ... so they violently lash out when meaninglessness becomes unbearable. Read this book and then engage in subterfuge acts -- like joining book discussion groups, reading aloud to kids, writing journals, and otherwise declining to allow electronic gadgets to do your "thinking" for you. Radical? In these times, you bet
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
60 of 64 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Electronic images insignificant compared to POWER OF WORDS March 18 1997
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Here's another cultural critic (among a few but growing number) who calls our fascination with electronic media into question. Barry Sanders argues that literacy is on the decline, in large measure because of our fixation on electronically created sources of "knowledge" -- tv, computer games, videos, software. The problem is, these much-heralded technological breakthroughs fail to give us a coherent sense of our own "voice." Sanders believes that the narrative power of true literary sources (stories, myths,and BOOKS, DAMMIT!) provides us with a necessary framework for interpreting our own pains and frustrations, and connects us to others in meaningful ways. In a culture where more and more of the young prefer to be amused by passively responding to electronic images, these same persons find their angst disconnected from the context of shared humanity. No wonder then, that we read about senseless killings where child-perpetrators feel no remorse for their victims. No acquired voice, no humanity ... so they violently lash out when meaninglessness becomes unbearable. Read this book and then engage in subterfuge acts -- like joining book discussion groups, reading aloud to kids, writing journals, and otherwise declining to allow electronic gadgets to do your "thinking" for you. Radical? In these times, you bet
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gain new insight into an important topic Aug. 1 2010
By Skards - Published on Amazon.com
A fascinating look into the meaning of literacy, and into exactly why we might want to take a closer look at what we fill ourselves with in terms of modern media.
Especially interesting as a parent is the neurological explanation of why we should be telling our children stories, reading in the home, reading with them, and giving them the opportunity to generate their own images instead of feeding them premade ones on TV, in films and video games.
Our addiction to modern technology and media- far from enhancing our interactions with each other, as may be popularly believed- is isolating us from each other and creating situations where human contact seemingly no longer has much meaning or influence. The extrapolation of this scenario leads to frightening conclusions. It is through being able to reflect and think for ourselves, capacities that are brought about through literacy, that we can contribute to our collective humanity.
I cannot say enough about what this book has done for my understanding of this topic. I read it 2 years ago now, and I am still gaining new insights from it.
9 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Thoughtful rant March 3 2003
By Jzig - Published on Amazon.com
Sanders does a wonderful job articulating the reasoning behind many current debates about language, education, literacy, and the shifting definition of written communication. I highly recommend this book, along with Leonard Shlain's The Alphabet versus the Goddess (which offers an alternative view) as food for thought to anyone who teaches, designs, communicates...
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