Richards on the media 3

Practical Criticism, p 320:

It is arguable that mechanical inventions, with their social effects, and a too sudden diffusion of indigestible ideas, are disturbing throughout the world the whole order of human mentality, that our minds are, as it were, becoming of an inferior shape — thin, brittle and patchy, rather than controllable1  and coherent. It is possible that the burden of information and consciousness that a growing mind has now to carry may be too much for its natural strength. If it is not too much already, it may soon become so, for the situation is likely to grow worse before it is better. Therefore, if there be any means by which we may artificially strengthen our minds’ capacity to order themselves, we must avail ourselves of them. And of all possible means, Poetry, the unique, linguistic instrument by which our minds have ordered their thoughts, emotions, desires . . . in the past, seems to be the most serviceable. It may well be a matter of some urgency for us, in the interests of our standard of civilisation, to make this highest form of language more accessible.

  1. A central difference between Richards and McLuhan may be seen here.  Richards’ imagination of solutions to the present crisis derive from the Gutenberg Galaxy — he looks to what is simplified (‘Basic English’), “controllable” and some “means by which we may artificially strengthen our minds’ capacity to order”.

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