Tuesday, January 23, 2007

First Post

"Thinking is more interesting than knowing, but less interesting than looking."

I'm anticipating taking the middle route here. That is, thinking in print about stuff that I've looked at but don't really know all that well.

I had to stop myself from writing the words "thinking out loud" above, realizing that this is a soundless exchange. (Or rather, it has no predefined sound associated with it--I'm surrounded by noise as I write this and I have no idea what you might be listening to.)

I use speech-related euphemisms a lot when writing electronically. It seems imprecise to me but habits are hard to break.

This brings to mind some reading I've been doing recently. Walter Ong's Orality and Literacy has a few chapters that examine the differences between the way literatre, preliterate, and semi-literate cultures perceive and describe the world around them.

As with most of the nonfiction that I read, I immediately think of this in terms of story and character. Take a standard fantasy "barbarian," for example. Rather than acting and speaking like an illiterate person from a literate society, wouldn't such an individual have a viewpoint based on oral culture?

Ong and others I've read suggest that such a viewpoint includes elements such as (A) a lack of general, Platonic definitions to apply to specific items in the surrounding world (for example, a picture of something round would not be described first as being a circle, but as some other specific round object like a plate) (B) an overriding pragmatism when dealing with hypothetical questions and (C) the belief that stories, laws, and such are being repeated verbatim when in fact they are slightly different every time, which might provide a greater flexibility over time, given that the rules and stories are adaptable to new circumstances by their very nature.

Oh well, dinner time approaches. Enough rambling for the first entry.

1 comment:

D Sims said...

Sigh. A typo in my first post. I'll have to look more carefully next time.