Literacy and the Politics of Writing
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With the growth of modern information technology, it is time to re-examine the concept and purpose of writing, and question the long cherished idea that the alphabet stands at the apex of a hierarchy towards which all proper forms of writing must necessarily progress. This book shows that the primary purpose of writing is the ability to store and transmit information, information essential to the social, economical and political survival of a particular group. Writing, in whatever form, allows the individual the interact with the group, to acquire an amount of knowledge that far outweighs the scope of memory (oral traditions), and to be free to manipulate this knowledge and arrive at new conclusion.
Providing a quick and easy entrance to information related to the subject, the volume contains a network of references leading the reader towards further information, and most entries are listed with bibliographical notes.
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‘honest’. Richard Dawkins tells us that in some cases they can be purposely misleading so as to manipulate the listener in ways beneficial to the caller. The earliest so far available evidence of the use of graphic signs and pictures, either incised (petroglyphs) or painted (petrograms), goes back to at least about 35,000 BC, a 16 Non-linguistic forms of writing period which seems to have coincided with the use of colour (ochre, manganese) and jewellery. Some recent discoveries point towards
characteristic are the names given to individual letters and (expect for Arabic) the basic order in which they are represented. The direction of writing, somewhat ambivalent at first, has since c. 1100 BC consistently been right to left. The question of the origin of the Semitic scripts is one of the most debated subjects that has occupied scholars and amateurs from antiquity to the present day. Was it an independent, unique invention of the Semitic people, an adapted borrowing from one of the
the alphabet. Before going any further we should perhaps here briefly reflect on the causes and the true nature of invention. Inventions hardly ever happen spontaneously or, more importantly, out of context. They happen whenever a particular need coincides with the means available to satisfy this need. Printing did not start with Gutenberg. Block printing, and indeed printing from moveable type, had already been used in China for many centuries — though, strangely, early Western travellers tell
administration). This is an 18th century example of the style. Chinese calligraphers (similar to Chinese painters) were not encouraged to use their own individuality; they were praised if they could copy the style of existing masters to perfection. Plate 59. The basis of Chinese painting and calligraphy is space and the division of space by visible objects. Standard Chinese characters seem to be written within an imaginary, subdivided square. When a text is prepared for engraving and printing,
system of place value that increased in multiples of 20 by placing signs vertically above each other. What provoked the Mayas or preceding culture to recognise the importance of zero? Their obsession with cycles and time? Zero, as far as we can perceive it, stood less for emptiness or void than for a definite beginning and a definite end. Or did it stand for the abstract (non-measurable?) space between both? Bibliography Barakat, R. A. Cistercian Sign Language, a Study of Non-verbal