Communication plays a vital and unique role in society-often blamed for problems when it breaks down and at the same time heralded as a panacea for human relations. A sweeping history of communication, Speaking Into the Air illuminates our expectations of communication as both historically specific and a fundamental knot in Western thought.
"This is a most interesting and thought-provoking book. . . . Peters maintains that communication is ultimately unthinkable apart from the task of establishing a kingdom in which people can live together peacefully. Given our condition as mortals, communication remains not primarily a problem of technology, but of power, ethics and art." —Antony Anderson, New Scientist
"Guaranteed to alter your thinking about communication. . . . Original, erudite, and beautifully written, this book is a gem." —Kirkus Reviews
"Peters writes to reclaim the notion of authenticity in a media-saturated world. It's this ultimate concern that renders his book a brave, colorful exploration of the hydra-headed problems presented by a rapid-fire popular culture." —Publishers Weekly
What we have here is a failure-to-communicate book. Funny thing is, it communicates beautifully. . . . Speaking Into the Air delivers what superb serious books always do-hours of intellectual challenge as one absorbs the gradually unfolding vision of an erudite, creative author." —Carlin Romano, Philadelphia Inquirer
In this erudite history of an idea, Peters, a professor of communication studies at the University of Iowa, writes with good form and style in a welcome break from the jargon-muddled work of many academics who tackle the notion of communication. Following Walter Benjamin, Peters approaches the writing of history not as a linear continuum but as a simultaneity, a wormhole. What Peters is after is communication, with all its "misfires, mismatches, and skewed effects." To this end, he is just as likely to reference Paul Newman in Cool Hand Luke as he is to turn to Jesus or St. Augustine or Phaedrus or John Locke. The result is a cultural polylogue. Peters is bent on exposing how new media and faster modes of transportation--anything that contributes to the shrinking of the world--affect communication, and how their impact gives rise to increasing incommunicability. Not just literature and cultural history but also outtakes from the annals of physics, philosophy and spiritualism are important to his project. Finally, Peters writes to reclaim the notion of authenticity in a media-saturated world. It's this ultimate concern that renders his book a brave, colorful exploration of the hydra-headed problems presented by a rapid-fire popular culture. (Sept.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.