Walter Lippmann anticipates Kenneth Gergen’s Saturated Self

“Novelties crowd the consciousness of modern men. The machinery of intelligence, the press, the radio, the moving picture, have enormously multiplied the number of unseen events and strange people and queer doings with which he has to be concerned. They compel him to pay attention to facts that are detached from their backgrounds, their causes and their consequences, and are only half known because they are not seen or touched or actually heard. These experiences come to him having no beginning, no middle, and no end, mere flashes of publicity playing fitfully upon a dark tangle of circumstances. I pick up a newspaper at the start of the day and I am depressed and rejoiced to learn that: anthracite miners have struck in Pennsylvania; that a price boost plot is charged; that Mr. Ziegfeld has imported a blonde from England who weighs 112 pounds and has pretty legs; that the Pope, on the other hand, has refused to receive women in low-necked dress and with their arms bare; that airplanes are flying to Hawaii; and that the Mayor says that the would-be Mayor is a liar…

Now in an ordered universe there ought to be place for all human experiences. But it is not strange that the modern newspaper-reader finds it increasingly difficult to believe that through it all there is order, permanence, and connecting principle. Such experience as comes to him from the outside is a dissonance composed of a thousand noises. And amidst these noises he has for inner guidance only a conscience which consists, as he half-suspects, of the confused echoes of earlier tunes.”

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