Sunday Book-Thought 62

The classicist Eric Havelock and the psychologist David Olson assert the thought-provoking hypothesis that the efficiency of the Greek alphabet led to an unparalleled transformation in the actual content of thought. By liberating people from the effort required by an oral tradition, the alphabet’s efficient “stimulated the thinking of novel thought.”
Try to imagine a situation in which the educated members of an oral culture had to depend entirely on personal memorization and meta-cognitive strategies to preserve their collective knowledge. Such strategies, however impressive, came with a cost. Sometimes subtly, sometimes blatantly, dependence on rhythm, memory, formulas, and strategy constrained what could be said, remembered, and created.
Maryanne WolfProust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain (New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2007), p. 65.


Sunday Book-Thought 60

AutoPoet embodied an inappropriate idea of poetry. As long as the goal was the imitation of a human poet – or as long as the poem’s reader was encouraged to think that was the goal – I wasn’t likely to get any farther. What’s wrong with the AutoPoetry I’ve quoted here (and all the other reams of it the machine would produce until it was turned off) is exactly that it’s imitation poetry. All our habits of reading are called upon, all the old expectations, and then let down. “Monologues of Soul and Body” had worked because its “body” sections were so different from human poetry. It had successfully demanded its own way of reading.
Charles O. Hartman, Virtual Muse: Experiments in Computer Poetry (Hanover, NH: Wesleyan University Press, 1996), p. 72.