Sunday Book-Thought 89

In orality, the speaker and his speech remained one; what was spoken was his creation, in a sense it was himself, and it was difficult to think of this self apart from the words it spoke. As language assumed a new identity, so did the personality that spoke and used it. The composer began to separate himself from the written composition and believe in himself as an ‘authority,’ an ‘author.’
– Eric A. Havelock, ‘The Coming of Literate Communication to Western Culture’, Literacy and the Future of Print, 30.1 (Winter 1980), 90-98 (p. 98).

Sunday Book-Thought 72

Writing turned a spotlight on the high, dim Sierras of speech; writing was the visualization of acoustic space. It lit up the dark.
A good quill put an end to talk, abolished mystery, gave us enclosed space and towns, brought roads and armies and bureaucracies. It was the basic metaphor with which the cycle of CIVILIZATION began, the step from the dark into the light of the mind. The hand that filled a paper built a city.
The handwriting is on the celluloid walls of Hollywood; the Age of Writing has passed. We must invent a NEW METAPHOR, restructure our thoughts and feelings. The new media are not bridges between man and nature: they are nature.
The MECHANIZATION of writing mechanized the visual-acoustic metaphor on which civilization rests; it created the classroom and mass education, the modern press and telegraph. It was the original assembly-line. Gutenberg made all history available as classified data: the transportable book brought the world of the dead into the space of the gentleman’s library; the telegraph brought the entire world of the living to the workman’s breakfast table.
Marshall McLuhan (designed by Harley Parker), Counterblast (London: Rapp & Whiting, 1969), pp. 14-15.