Let's Extend Our Brains and Dig Deeper

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While reading The Muse Learns to Write by Eric A. Havelock, I was forced to really dig deeper on the subject of oral and literate culture.
 
"Is oral communication the instrument of an oral state of mind, a type of consciousness quite different from the literate state of mind?" (Havelock, 24).

Interesting.  I have always found myself to be more of a "written" word kind of person.  I love to really think thoughts through and then write them down to show what I've come up with.  I do think people have to be in an oral state of mind to be very advanced in speaking orally; it just comes too naturally for some people for me to think otherwise.

"More simply, did human beings once think differently from the way we do now, and do we now think differently from the way we may think in the future?" (Havelock, 27).

How can one really say that we think differently?  Thinking is all in the head.  It has to start out as a thought not yet spoken or written.  I am not so sure the way we initially think is much different but I have a feeling that the way we think about projecting our thoughts has changed.      If I start thinking about something sometimes I want to write it down and sometimes I store it in my brain for when I want to orally express that that to another person.  

Havelock writes about the progression of oral communication into the written word and then the written word into oral again using examples like the start of radio broadcasting.  

"We had all been listening to the radio, a voice of incessant utterance, orally communicating fact and intention and persuasion, borne on the airways to our ears" (Havelock, 30).

We have since progressed with television and music but are these things considered oral still?  The question is still brought up as we discussed in class:  Is this considered oral or textual?  My thoughts are that it is more textual because using the television as an example, it has become more like a book; seeing as you can record and rewind and go back to take notes or remember certain parts.  Oral to me is in the moment and live in front of you...you either get it or you don't.  When you get iPods and cell phones into the mix, it is all textual to me.  Maybe I am jumping the gun and perhaps if someone can tell me otherwise then I need a better understanding of the term textual; nonetheless, what we would once call "oral" communication has become simpler for us to control.

There are some other parts of these chapters that get a little too complex for me to even to be thinking about.  "It would seem to follow that, while speech obviously is spoken by persons who may think they are speaking as individuals, and addressing themselves to individual interests, its primary function is likely to be one that serves collectivist purposes" (Havelock, 54).  This quote almost seems too mathematical for me.  I have never thought so much about the spoken word in this context.  To me, this is like asking, "what came first, the chicken or the egg?"

If there is a bottom line, than for me it is saying that writing is concrete.  Even during my own discussions with people I will write down what I have just expressed out loud so as not to forget it.  Oral communication is important in connecting with an audience especially on important topics.  There are so many benefits to the spoken word but how else have people throughout the centuries learned about this topic?  They have learned about it just as we have; by reading it.  I am using written word right now by blogging so my classmates and others can read this.  There is just something about sitting down and concentrating on text to really flow through it and understand what it means.  The spoken word always gets my mind flowing but at the end of the day I am writing it all down or reading to find out more.

2 Comments

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Erica Gearhart said:

You looked at thinking with a complexity that I did not. It is true that there is really no way (at least for us) to tell whether or not someone is thinking differently. I really like how you said that the way we "project" our thoughts is different. This is a really great insight.

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