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February 1, 2010

This one might be reaching.

While reading through the assigned chapters in The Muse Learns to Write: Reflections on Orality and Literacy from Antiquity to the Present, I was stopped in the beginning of chapter three where Havelock says, "What has it meant for societies and their communication in favor of literate ones of various sorts? There is the contemporary one: What precisely is the relationship between the spoken word of today (or yesterday) and the written text? There is the linguistic one: What happens to the structure of a spoken language when it becomes a written artifact? Does anything happen?" These questions made me think about the public forum that we had at SHU about the color change to the sculpture outside of Lynch.

During the forum many people from the SHU community started discussing about how the color change to Josefa Filkosky's sculpture was ruining the artist intent and the meaning behind the piece because it was no longer the piece she created. I have to admit that I have little education about art and what art is and so on beyond the art history courses that I've taken at Seton Hill, purely because I love Maureen Vissat and how she teaches, but I digress. While I was at the forum, I had no real opinion besides that in my eyes, yes I was shocked the first time I pulled up Seton Hill Drive to see a new BLUE sculpture and even mentioned it to my brother (who was helping me move in) that it was different, but after I got used to the color I began to realize I liked it a lot more in blue. Don't get me wrong, I'm all about SHU spirit and sport the red and gold often, but to be honest, I thought that piece never looked better.

What does this have to do with Havelock? I'm getting there....

During the forum, Dr. Boyle had a chance to explain to everyone the reasons behind the color change and why she gave the painters the go ahead. While I'm sure some people to this day do not agree with her, I have to say she handled the pressing situation with much grace and I mostly appreciated when she posed the question of who really has a say in the artwork once it is given away to someone? She also asked questions along the lines of, does artist intent matter once the piece becomes public and mentioned that while we change literature to fit our needs of the current (ever-changing) society, no one even questions it, but changing a color in on a sculpture calls for red flags. Isn't any form of art...art? I tend to think that no matter what the piece; a song, painting, poem, book or sculpture, once art becomes public - the artist doesn't have a big say in what happens to it, especially if it was given to someone. (I say this even as I have plans to write in the future and realize that sentence just gave full rights to ruin my future work. Boo.)

Anyway, with Havelock, while I was reading I thought of all of this because I wanted to pose the following questions, did written text ruin oral stories? (since there is no way scribes could write the exact same way the speaker told the story) Does changing art forms (in this case writing) into something else matter? (ex. books into movies, since the original work is then not the same) If we stayed with oral histories only, where would we be now?

Time to discuss.   

1 Comment

"changing a color in on a sculpture calls for red flags"

An intentional bit of wordplay? Great connection to a notable SHU event. Did anyone else in the class see the event? Or, rather, "hear" the event?

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