by David Abram
Social media is a much more oral culture than print or television because it is (or should be) about conversation, rather than circulation and broadcasting. However, there is not much evidence that social media is changing attitudes in the way that an oral culture might invite … or is there?
I‘ve just finished Abram’s follow-up to his Spell of the Sensuous. The earlier book is one of the most important I have ever read, and didn’t feel the new book, Becoming Animal, added a lot to the earlier message. But here for the record are my marginal annotations as I worked through it:
- An interesting listing of the 9 ways oral cultures differ from our modern “written language” culture:
- oral awareness is more informed by place, more local in its orientation
- the act of perception is more of a two-way communication
- each entity in the place of which one is a part is ascribed its own active agency in the world
- all things are seen as expressive, intentional
- oral cultures are more aware of their lack of knowledge, of the uncertainty and mystery of everything
- the world is articulated as a story rather than as an organized collection of data; it is “verb-al” rather than “noun-al”
- time is circle and rhythm and cycle, rather than rectilinear and vectored
- the world is the product of its collective imagination, with everything a player in the dream of its creation, fluid rather than static or conceptual
- there is an acceptance that we cannot ever perceive of the world the way any other human or creature does; within the a-part-ness of our individual lives there is a pluralism, a collective appreciation of the difference and uniqueness of each entity
The final passage of the book speaks powerfully again of the grief we all feel for gaia, the collective organism of all-life-on-earth.
There are those, however, who are not frightened of grief;
An addled and anesthetized numbness
is spreading rapidly throughout our species.
dropping deep into the sorrow, they find therein
a necessary elixir to the numbness.
When they encounter one another,
when they press their foreheads against the bark
of a centuries-old tree,
Daniel Durrant “The world is the product of its collective imagination” http://bit.ly/cob3jG via @OPEN_INTEL (social media as an oral culture?)