alphabet/units

April 13, 2010 § 1 Comment

The Alphabet, and the inexpensive and portable papyrus, meant that military means could be controlled even over long distance, as well as military authority. The phonetically constructed word is a shift from the primitive societies’ pictorial word-realm (mystical, incoherent, traditional) to the medium of the Alphabet: cool, unitary, visual. The psychic and social organisation of an alphabetical society is therefore linear, and divisible into subunits. Industrial and military. As a visual medium the alphabet is cold – the eye is cool and neutral. The alphabetical culture is therefore capable of separating actions from emotions; acting without having to feel anything. (MML, 100-104)

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§ One Response to alphabet/units

  • Maria:

    i have to say that I see the alphabet playing another role in the development of society. The character writing systems in place before the development of the first alphabets at the end of the 2nd millenium B.C. were notoriously hard to learn and use: only a tiny minority had the time and patience to learn to read and write. These character systems had no direct relation to the sound of the languages they represented, and so were independent of the development of the spoken languages in the region.

    Alphabets are much easier to learn & because they are also more phonetic than characters, they reflect the development of spoken word much more clearly. They destroyed the mystique of the scribal arts and put writing into the hands of a much larger fraction of the population. The average person was given a voice he or she had never had before.

    The alphabet, in short, is the classic example of the following rule: simplification in technology is inherently democratizing. The people are given the understanding and tools that had been used to oppress them.

    We live in an anti-democratic age. The current international system desperately needs simplification, as do the many technological revolutions unleashed by Europe since the Renaissance. At the same time, the genuine intellectual and moral aristocracy needs recognition and protection. It can be done. RT

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