January 2008 Archives


"...Tiro ""compressed and simplified"" Roman copyhand, capitonlonis rustica, into an ""abstract"" symbol system." (Di Renzo pg. 7)  

This was part of an ongoing investigation into the greatness of Cicero's famed scribe. Apparently, Cicero's scribe Tiro, was not only responsible for the documentation of Cicero's life, he also develop a shorthand system of writing, which at that time, was more like a series of codes rather than a new system of writing (He also was Cicero's right-hand man in his ascension into power) . This passage helps one appreciate the genius beyond the modern alphabet, and the devotion it took on behalf on Tiro in order to complete such a system. This essay reveals the importance of the writing even in an Oral dominated culture. 
 "Without writing, the literate mind would not and could not think as it does, not only when engaged in writing but even when it is composing its thoughts in oral form." (Walter Ogn, WM 316)

  It seemed this quote summed up the main point that Ong was trying to drive. It is extremely difficult for the average literate being to comprehend the mindset and thought process of those who grew up in a oral dominate culture. Because so much of our culture is based upon literacy, are thoughts and belief are organized in a manner that is specific for our literate dominant society.  Ong supports both forms really, and seems to understand that both represent the evolution of humanity. He further addresses the current technological change via computers. The computers threaten writing just as writing threaten oral communication. Ong also drives the point that every form of communication other than oral is artificial. He further states that the use of artificial aids is part of human nature, just as the progression of language/text is. The essay provided a valuable in-depth analysis of the pro/cons of both styles, and in the end Ong seems excited that the new age of communication is upon as, and we should view this new form with awe and enthusiam.      
      "The Chinese way of writing is a complex combination of pictograms, ideograms, and signs that indicate sounds." (Brookfield: Book)

      This quote is important in that it helps one understand the beauty and difficulty of the Chinese language.  The current language that dominates over China is rooted within the history of communication. Also, I feel its important to note that current items in American pop culture rely on ideograms and pictograms to convey quick messages.  Street signs, advertisements, and numerous symbols in our culture rely on the use of ideograms and pictograms. Every culture relies and uses such things, whether or not they are actually imbedded within the language. An immediate example of the power of ideograms and pictograms can be seen through the genius of various comic creators, ranging from Will Eisner, to Art Speigleman (sp?), to Jack Kirby, to Chris Ware and so on. Every culture is affective and unique in its way to arrange shapes to represents ideas that are larger than the actually visual image. 
"There specific which you have discovered is an aid not to memory, but to reminiscence, and you give your disciples not truth, but only the semblance of truth; they will be heaters of many things and will have learned nothing; they will appear to be omniscient and will generally know nothing; they will be tiresome company, having the show of wisdom without the reality." (Plato, From Phaedrus)

 Socrates seems to assert that simply reading something dampens the original intent of the story  (because of the readers inability to comment directly to the writer and so on). In order to learn its important to experience, and Socrates has gained his knowledge through his experiences (orally of course). The oral presentation allows the audience to enter the mind of the teller, through his use of dramatics. Socrates finds letter to be a lazy attempt by those unfit (in his mind) to spread ideas.He seems to carry the belief that only those of the high intelligence should be allowed to lecture audiences. I guess part of being a great philosopher is carrying around huge a ego (*cough* elitist)?   He, as a dialectician, is threaten by the new form on communication. He is used to being approach with questions, maintaining his station as the center of the audience. With letters, his popularity will dwindle as the spread of new ideas threatens his dominance in the field. Every King wants to rule as long as possible, and Socrates understands that this evolution of communication will destroy his popularity and dominance.

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