Warren Sproule (Warren.Sproule@SOCIOL.UTAS.EDU.AU)
Fri, 4 Oct 1996 14:49:20 +1200

Holy Cow! Stay away from the e-mail box for a couple of days and look what
happens...Not only a rehash of literacy/orality divides as indicators of
"levels of consciousness", but even reference to Julian Jaynes'
delightfully nutty _The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the
Bicameral Mind_. Since today's a catastrophe-free one, my kidneys are
operational, and my brain-hemisphere bridge isn't stressed enough to awaken
my 3,000-year-old forced consciousness (Jaynes-fans will follow this; to
you other godless and UNhallucinated problem-solvers, apologies) I'll just
drop in a quick note on writing/consciousness (in no particular order)...

*Contra* one of Jesse s Cook III's main assertions, reading/writing *is* in
large part precisely about communication with the dead; perfectly proper
too, as Comte and others maintain that society contains more of them than
us. A key feature of literature - of all types - is, as Niklas Luhmann
points out, that 'writing and printing make it possible to withdraw from
interaction systems and nevertheless to communicate with far-reaching
societal consequences' (1995: 427). Moreover, the prime distinction between
people[s] with writing and those without it is the privileging of such a
non-interactive society. The importance attached to writing in modern
societies rests on [1] the ability of institutions to deal with groups and
individuals by reducing them from unmanageable physical entities to
predictable and measurable textual entities, and [2] the capacity of
individuals and groups to generate a variety of written versions of a
'self' (or rather, 'selves'). Hence the necessity of assorted documentation
in order to prove one's existence in the first instance (interested parties
are directed to Pirandello's *Il fut Mattia Pascal* of 1904 for a vivid
demonstration of this), and the assortment of paperwork required to
manouevre through and connect up with aspects of contemporary life
(tickets/licenses/passports; CV's; birth/marriage/death certificates, etc,
etc - all this before even moving to a discussion of 'higher-cultural'

Duty calls - more on this p.o.v. if requested.

Von Daniken, Jaynes, McLuhan...am I still on ANTHRO-L? Waiting with bated
breath for the Alvin & Heidi Toffler thread...

ti sero lo mano,