User:Lieven Van Speybroeck/Notes/Gutenberg Galaxy

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disclaimer: note dump!

  • 1

comparison 60's with Elizabethan age:

- Elizabethans: evolution corporate experience to individualism
= typographical/mechanical, post-medieval age
- 60's: evolution individualism to corporate experience
= electric, post-literate age
=> interplay of contrasted cultures

goal of the book: trace ways in which the forms of experience and mental outlook and expression have been modified by the phonetic alphabet and by printing -> the organization of experience in society and politics.

  • 3

electronic age: new shapes and structures with oral form, even when the components of the situation may be non-verbal

-> calls for some reorganization of imaginative life.

Q? What happened to bring about the basic change in attitutes, beliefs and values which released the Technological Revolution?

  • 4

Visual function of language extended and empowered by literacy

-> dualistic idea of extensions/prosthesis + disturbance of senses and faculties
-> inevitable drive for equilibrium or completion occurs with both suppression and extension of human sense or function
-> antropologic pov: Edward T. Hall, The Silent Language
  • 5

language & speech: tool to accumulate experience and knowledge in an efficient manner

-> language as metaphor: it stores and translates experience from one mode into another
-> money as metaphor: stores skill and labour and also translates one skill into another

=> extensions of sense constitute closed systems through translation, incapable of interplay or collective awareness -> separation of senses

-> this shifts in the electric age: extensions demand an interplay and ratio that makes rational co-existence possible
-> extension becomes a simultaneous, global combination of senses
  • 16

Three-dimensional perspective = mode of seeing

~ recognizing lettters of the alphabat
~ following chronological narrative
  • 17

Gutenberg technology: stripping of the senses and the interruption of their interplay in tactile synesthesia -> process of separation and reduction of functions

  • 18

Technology is explicitness (Lyman Bryson)

=> explicitness means the spelling out of one thing at a time:
  • one sense at a time
  • one mental or physical operation at a time

The interiorization of the technology of the the phonetic alphabet translates man from the magical world of the ear to the neutral visual world

  • 19

Carothers, 1959: 14:16, 20 October 2011 (CEST)14:16, 20 October 2011 (CEST)14:16, 20 October 2011 (CEST)~ literate (Western) society: driven by an abstract explicit visual technology of uniform time and space in which 'cause' os efficient and sequential.

-> world of vision -> on the whole indifferent to the viewer

non-literate (African) society: driven by the resonant oral word.

-> world of sound -> direct personal significance for the heared
=> different conception of reality: seeing vs hearing

notion of hot/hyperesthetic (hearing) and cool/neutral (viewing) world !!! advent of written word & print: word's loss of powers and vulnerabilities

-> shift from dynamic (auditory) to static (visual)
-> loss of personality and emotional overtones (as opposed to the directed, spoken word)
-> by becoming visual, words join a world of relative indifference to the viewer
=> turn from magic to profane
  • 20

literate society: visual and behavioural conformity frees the individual for inner deviation. oral society: inner verbalizaion is effective social action

  • 22

Carothers: PHONETIC writing splits apart thought and action / split between the magical world of the ear and the neutral world of the eye

-> schizophrenia caused by literacy
-> emergence of the detribalized individual

-> only phonetic writing (in contrast to other forms of writing: hieroglyphs, chinese...) makes a break between the eye and the ear, between semantic meaning and visual code.

  • 24

Cicero on the art of retorics: eloquence IS wisdom

-> only eloquence can apply knowledge to the minds and hearts of men

If a technology is introduced in a culture it alters the ratio of our senses. Any sense when stepped up to high intensity can act as an anesthetic for other senses.

  • 25

Plato: act of writing as an aid not to memory but to reminiscence.

-> creation of forgetfulness through tempering the use of memory
  • 26

Rise of electronic media: shift from visual to auditory world again (alteration of senses) Q?:due to it's 'lowresness'? Still the case?

  • 27

tradition of literate and mechanistic technology leaves us confused about electric technology -> used to the visual not to the auditory they eye has none of the delicacy of the ear

  • 28

manuscript culture vs print culture = audile/tactil vs visual

-> manuscript demands for participation of all senses
-> print puts empathy on only 1: the eye
-> balanced interplay of senses became extremely difficult as print altered the visual sense in Western experience to extreme intensity

Q?:is this really the case? Isn't print a tactile medium as well as it is a visual? Is the balance of senses that much different from manuscript-culture?::

-> clarification later in book
  • 29

Electricity creates conditions of extreme interdependence on a global scale -> auditory world of simultaneous events and over-all awareness.

BUT habits of literacy persist
  • in our speech
  • in our sensibilities
  • in our arrangement of the space and time
  • 30

electric technology: consequences for ordinary perceptions and habits of action wich are quickly recreating in us the mental processes of the most primitive men.

-> consequences occur in our sense life, which creates the vortices and matrices of thought and action
-> print culture confers on man a language of thought which leaves him unready to face the language of his own electron-magnetic technology
  • 31

18th century: first violent revulsion against print culture and mechanical industry. Q?:how?

  • 34

China: though concept of print was invented in 7th or 8th century, it had little effect in the emancipating thought.

-> purpose of print in China: not the creation of uniform repeatable products for a market and price system. It as created as an alternative to prayer-wheels and a visual means of multiplying incantatory spells (~ advertising)
-> printing ideograms is totally different from typography based on the phonetic alphabet -> it involves all senses at once (Gestalt)
-> no seperation of sight, sound & meaning
  • 35

Specializations and separations of function inherent in industry and applied knowledge roots from the invention of the phonetic alphabet Any extension of the sensorium by technological dilation has a quite appreciable effect in setting up new ratios or proportions among all the senses.

-> languages: form of technology constituted by dilation or uttering of all our senses at once
-> subject to the intrusion of any mechanically extended sense
=> writing affects speech directly, not only its accidence and syntax, but also its enunciation and social uses
  • 37

non-literate societies can not see in three dimensions or perspective

-> literacy gives people the power to focus a little way in front of an image to take in the whole image at a glance.
-> non-literate people scan objects and images as we do the printed page: segment by segment -> no detached point of view
  • 38:

literate audience: acceptance of a passive consumer role in presence of a book or film <-> non-literate audience: no notion in the private and silent following of a narrative process.

  • 39

"With film you are the camera, with TV you are the screen"

-> TV = not a narrative medium, not so much visual as audio-tactile
-> the visual component is so small that the viewer has to puzzle the image together

Q?:not anymore? question of resolution?

  • 41

If a new technology extends one or more of our senses outside us into the social world, then new ratios among all of our senses will occur in that particular culture.

  • 43

A shift from nomadic to sedentary modes of work opens the opportunity to invent writing

-> writing as a consequence of architectural thinking
-> writing as a visual enclosure of non-visual spaces and senses.

reading in ancient and medieval times was reading aloud. with print the eye speeded up and the voice quieted down.

-> inner verbalizing inseparable from the horizontal linearity of words on a page
  • 44:

print: first mechanization of an ancient handicraft that led to further mechanization of all handicrafts

  • 45

the invention of the alphabet: translation or reduction of a complex organic interplay of spaces (read: senses, more specifically oral speech) into a single space (read: sense, more specifically vision)

  • 46

the non-literate experience is recreated in our own culture through electronic media. (p55: 'The Africa within the Western experience') speech is the content of phonetic writing, not of any other kind of writing. (in those cases it would be snapshots or 'Gestalts')

  • 47

the phonetic alphabet separates (next to dissociating and abstracting sight and sound) all meaning from the sound of the letters

-> result is a collection of meaningless letters that relate to meaningless sounds
-> compared to other forms of writing: there the divorce between the visual and all other senses remains incomplete because there is always certain meaning vested in sight or sound.

ancient manuscript: has to be read aloud to be read at all.

  • 48

without the phonetic alphabet, cultures remain tribal (see before: phonetic alphabet as detribalization of men through separation of senses)

  • 50

the alphabet cannot be assimilated, only liquidated or reduced

electronic age: showing the limits of the alphabet?

H. Innis (Empire and Communications): print causes nationalism and not tribalism print causes price systems and markets such as cannot exist without print meaning of Western man: built by the meaningless sign linked to the meaningless sound.

  • 54

It was not until the experience of mass production of exactly uniform and repeatable type, that the fission of the senses occured and the visual dimension broke away from the other senses.