The Image, or,
What Happened to the American Dream,
Weidenfeld & Nicholson,
This is an important book from an important author written and published at a convenient year. Rather than a general survey, it seeks to lay the blame for America's self delusion on the Graphic Revolution - or "Man's ability to make, preserve, transmit, and disseminate precise images..."
Introduction, Extravagant Expectations
1. From News Gathering to News Making: A Flood of Pseudo-Events
2. From Hero to Celebrity: The Human pseudo-Event
3. From Traveller to Tourist: The Lost Art of Travel
4. From Shapes to Shadows: Dissolving Forms
5. From Ideal to Image: The Search for Self-Fulfilling Prophesies
6. From the American Dream to American Illusions : The Self-Deceiving Magic of Prestige
Suggestions for further reading, chapter by chapter at the end of the book.
Boorstin's list of characteristics of the image is fascinating albeit in the context of his discussion of corporate identity.
p.194 "Strictly speaking, there is no way to unmask an image. An image, like any other pseudo-event, becomes all the more interesting with our every effort to de-bunk it. For this reason some of the most effective advertising nowadays consists of circumstantial descriptions of how the advertising images were contrived : how tests were devised, how trademarks were designed, and how the corporate cosmetics were applied. The stage machinery, the process of fabricating and projecting the image, fascinate us. We are all interested in watching a skilful feat of magic; we are still more interested in looking behind the scenes and seeing precisely how it was made to seem the lady was sawed in half. The everyday images which flood our experience have this advantage over the tricks of magic ; even after we have been taken behind the scenes, we can still enjoy the pleasure of deception. Paradoxically, too, the more we know about the tricks of image building, about the calculation, ingenuity, and effort that have gone into a particular image, the more satisfaction we have from the image itself. The elaborate contrivance proves to us that we are really justified in being taken in."