Practical Criticism, p 339-340:
…a decline can be noticed in perhaps every department of literature, from the Epic to the ephemeral Magazine. The most probable reasons for this are the increased size of our ‘communities’ (if they can still be so called, when there remains so little in common), and
the mixtures of culture that the printed word has caused. Our everyday reading and speech now handles scraps from a score of different cultures. I am not referring here to the derivations of our words they have always been mixed but to the fashion in which we are forced to pass from ideas and feelings that took their form in Shakespeare’s time or Dr Johnson’s time to ideas and feelings of Edison’s time or Freud’s time and back again. More troubling still, our handling of these materials varies from column to column of the newspaper, descending from the scholar’s level to the kitchen-maid’s.
The result of this heterogeneity is that for all kinds of utterances our performances, both as speakers (or writers) and listeners (or readers), are worse than those of persons of similar natural ability, leisure and reflection a few generations ago. Worse in all four language functions, less faithful to the thought, less discriminating with the feeling, cruder in tone and more blurred in intention. We defend ourselves from the chaos that threatens us by stereotyping and standardising both our utterances and our interpretations. And this threat, it must be insisted, can only grow greater as world communications, through the wireless and otherwise, improve.
– the complications of time — the increasing speed (or foreshortening of time) in modern communications forces different historical times together in the present: “we are forced to pass from ideas and feelings that took their form in Shakespeare’s time or Dr Johnson’s time to ideas and feelings of Edison’s time or Freud’s time and back again.” In McLuhan’s terms, the accelerating speed of communications tends under electric conditions to “all-at-onceness”.
– the global village vs the global city — the world has become at once both bigger (“the increased size of our communities”) and smaller (“Our everyday […] now handles scraps from a score of different cultures”). But it has not learned how these fit together as a global city; instead, like a village subject to sudden instabilities, it has become increasingly subject to “heterogeneity” rather than “community”.
– the layout of the newspaper with “scraps from a score of different cultures” treated with widely different sensibilities (the “handling of these materials varies from column to column of the newspaper, descending from the scholar’s level to the kitchen-maid’s”) displays the modern global village situation in nuce.