Wednesday, September 22, 2004

I'm working through the five boxes marked "Rhetoric/Hermeneutics/Linguistics" which I have reclassified as "Rhetoric, Literary Criticism, Media Studies, Linguistics, Philosophy." Some fun stuff here. From Eric Havelock's The Muse Learns to Write which I first read much too quickly in a whirlwind of pre-comprehensive exam reading marathons:

"But otherwise, the introduction of print has had an opposite effect. The term 'book' is commonly used by scholars to describe the papyrus roll and the parchment codex, as well as the contents of a modern library. Both script and print are 'texts,' but in print we see historically a gradual alteration in style and content. To what extent must it be viewed as 'revolutionary'? Commonly, the printed text had been accepted as exemplifying simply a superior, that is, more fluent method of transcription. That something new had arrived in print was noted forty year ago by Chaytor (1945), followed thirteen years later by Febvre and Martin (1958). McLuhan (1962) dramatized what he thought this new thing was -- the introduction of 'linear thinking.' Eisenstein (1979) has followed him by exploring in two magisterial volumes, the social-political effects of print but without giving much attention to 'the subtler effects of print on consciousness' (Ong 1982, p. 118). Harold Innis on the other hand, had perceived that the problem had both a social-political and an ideological dimension (Innis 1951; see also chapter 1, above). Was the text as printed and multiplied, in whatever form, being robbed of any residual ability to 'speak'?" (49-50).

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