Online reading group and book discussion forum
  HOME ENTER FORUMS OUR BOOKS LINKS DONATE ADVERTISE CONTACT  
View unanswered posts | View active topics It is currently Tue May 18, 2021 12:08 am



Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 19 posts ] • Topic evaluate: Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.  Go to page 1, 2  Next
Epilogue: Myth and Society 
Author Message
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
BookTalk.org Hall of Fame

BookTalk.org Owner
Diamond Contributor 3

Joined: May 2002
Posts: 16400
Location: Florida
Thanks: 3632
Thanked: 1391 times in 1091 posts
Gender: Male
Country: United States (us)

 Epilogue: Myth and Society
Epilogue: Myth and Society
The Hero with a Thousand Faces - by Joseph Campbell



Sun Feb 20, 2011 3:10 am
Profile Email WWW
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
Getting Comfortable


Joined: Jan 2011
Posts: 6
Location: New York, NY
Thanks: 0
Thanked: 0 time in 0 post
Gender: None specified
Country: United States (us)

Post Re: Epilogue: Myth and Society
This is one of my favorite reads. Joseph Campbell was a true genius. I'll have to reread this one soon.


_________________
This too shall pass.


Wed Mar 16, 2011 9:40 am
Profile Email WWW
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
BookTalk.org Hall of Fame

Platinum Contributor
Book Discussion Leader

Joined: Jan 2008
Posts: 6874
Location: Luray, Virginia
Thanks: 2217
Thanked: 2416 times in 1822 posts
Gender: Male
Country: United States (us)

Post Re: Epilogue: Myth and Society
Uh-oh, why am I posting on the final, short chapter, having said nothing about the book since early on? I admit it, I skipped to the "significance" chapter. The reason is not Campbell's fault, by any means, but has more to do with my not being enough a student of myth to hang with him. The body of the book is a compendium of myth, consisting of hundreds of examples from myths from all over the world, all too much for me currently. Maybe that will change at some point, though I'm running out of time for changes. I can't conceive how anyone can know this much about a subject.


He says, first, that "there is no final system for the interpretation of myths, and there will never be any such thing" (329). Would that were a view that religions had taken about the texts that they have (mis)appropriated. But that being the case, that interpretations are going to be very individual, I have less motivation to read so much about Campbell's own interpretations.

He also talks about the modern world's inability to join with myth, and this observation also partly explains why I couldn't get into the book. Campbell is right about modernity's image of itself as breaking free of the superstitions embodied in myth, adopting a scientific worldview, and exalting the individual over the group. "Those great co-ordinating mythologies," he says, functioned to concentrate meaning in the group, "in the great anonymous forms, none in the self-expressive individual; today no meaning is in the group--none in the world: all is in the individual" (334). What we exalt, usually, is just what Campbell identifies: scientific thinking and the liberty of the individual. I know I often do, at least, and this makes the endless permutations of fantastic myths less attractive to me.

There is an advantage to our way, but also a big drawback. "Where then there was darkness, now there is light; but also, where light was, there is now darkness. The modern hero-deed must be that of questing to bring to light the lost Atlantis of the co-ordinated soul" (334). Campbell doesn't claim that we can turn back "from what has been accomplished by the modern revolution," but we can still "render the modern world spiritually significant" by "making it possible for men and women to come to full human maturity through the conditions of contemporary life." (334). He reminds me here of Stuart Kauffman in Reinventing the Sacred. I have only a vague idea of what he means, though.

This world-altering shift can come about only through the workings of the unconscious, not as a result of conscious intent. He says that through a "long and very frightening process...new symbols [will] become visible" (335). He makes an attractive religious pitch for universalism: "The way to become human is to learn to recognize the lineaments of God in all the wonderful modulations of the face of man" (336). But he emphasizes that the "old mysteries have all lost their force; their symbols no longer interest our psyches." Again, this points to my difficulty in believing in the significance of the myths he has told us about.

In his last two paragraphs he pulls out the stops, leaving me behind in a religious flight that clearly reveals his earlier Catholicism.



Last edited by DWill on Thu Mar 31, 2011 11:22 am, edited 2 times in total.



The following user would like to thank DWill for this post:
geo
Thu Mar 31, 2011 11:19 am
Profile
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
Genuinely Genius

Silver Contributor

Joined: Nov 2010
Posts: 800
Location: Maine
Thanks: 45
Thanked: 178 times in 129 posts
Gender: Female
Country: United States (us)

Post Re: Epilogue: Myth and Society
Dwill I found the same thing about this book. I realize that I am very uncomfortable with myths that are "required" belief. I know that Campbell did not expect his readers to believe them but the cultures to which they were sacred did.

Things like Santa Claus, Easter Bunny, Camelot, Robin Hood etc are o.k. as they are meant to be fun. Otherwise it kind of makes my skin crawl.



Thu Mar 31, 2011 1:15 pm
Profile Email
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
pets endangered by possible book avalanche

BookTalk.org Moderator
Platinum Contributor

Joined: Aug 2008
Posts: 4623
Location: NC
Thanks: 2102
Thanked: 2126 times in 1578 posts
Gender: Male

Post Re: Epilogue: Myth and Society
DWill wrote:

In his last two paragraphs he pulls out the stops, leaving me behind in a religious flight that clearly reveals his earlier Catholicism.


Is this book merely Campbell's personal religious philosophy cloaked as a pseudo scholarly study of mythology? I keep expecting him to say God and eternity are just symbols, but he's not going to say that, is he?


_________________
-Geo
Question everything


Thu Mar 31, 2011 1:31 pm
Profile
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
Genuinely Genius

Silver Contributor

Joined: Nov 2010
Posts: 800
Location: Maine
Thanks: 45
Thanked: 178 times in 129 posts
Gender: Female
Country: United States (us)

Post Re: Epilogue: Myth and Society
I don't believe he was religious as he had no religious ceremony at his funeral. This was his Tschict (?) I guess I do not like the veneration of Joseph Campbell and in fact could not even bring myself to read the biography of him my husband brought home. However I do very much like his "find your bliss and follow it" quote.



Thu Mar 31, 2011 2:33 pm
Profile Email
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
pets endangered by possible book avalanche

BookTalk.org Moderator
Platinum Contributor

Joined: Aug 2008
Posts: 4623
Location: NC
Thanks: 2102
Thanked: 2126 times in 1578 posts
Gender: Male

Post Re: Epilogue: Myth and Society
The universal symbolism in mythology is certainly fascinating, but so often he veers off into mystical territory and loses me. Even with some of the psychology stuff, he's on thin ice. I'd like to bring him down the earth a bit. My biggest question right now is why are snakes so predominant in so many of the world's myths. What is the deal with snakes?


_________________
-Geo
Question everything


Thu Mar 31, 2011 9:45 pm
Profile
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
BookTalk.org Hall of Fame

Platinum Contributor
Book Discussion Leader

Joined: Jan 2008
Posts: 6874
Location: Luray, Virginia
Thanks: 2217
Thanked: 2416 times in 1822 posts
Gender: Male
Country: United States (us)

Post Re: Epilogue: Myth and Society
I don't know what it is exactly about snakes, either. Maybe somebody does. With snakes and all animals in myth, we probably can't understand because we don't have anything like the close experience earlier people had with animals. We say that humans are part of nature, but I don't believe this is actually true of us once we developed civilizations. We're not close to nature but have set ourselves more and more apart from it, and this has been the whole idea of our progress.

I read a very interesting book on saffron's recommendation called The Old Way, about the hunter-gatherers of the Kalihari in the 1950s, just before the surrounding white culture moved in and that way of life disappeared. It was obvious that living as part of nature, as they did, is something foreign to me. They were subject to all the immediate dangers and the unforgiving contingencies of nature. Just think of actually needing to protect yourself from being eaten by lions, jackals, and leopards, and having to succeed in your foraging and hunting or else face starvation. Their relationship to animals, especially to lions, was elemental, and the "Old Way" was in fact not far removed from the ways of the animals themselves.

I thought of Robert Wright, too, while reading it, and the discussion we had earlier about whether earlier people saw myth and religion as metaphorical or literal. I think I oversimplified or was just wrong when I said that the gods and spirits were real or literal to the people who invented them. Again, I can never know how myth functioned for those people, being so far removed from their way of life. But the Ju/Wasi bushmen weren't ruled by either their myths or their gods (of which there were only two, making them less polytheistic than Christians!). How could they be? They had to survive and reserve their ultimate respect for the facts of life in the bush. Then what were the gods for? It wasn't necessarily to explain natural phenomena, as in many cases the Ju/wasi would just say they didn't know why something was the way it was; the Old People hadn't told them. It simply seems to be natural for humans to make up stories, as unsatisfactory as that seems as an explanation. The stories had an overriding social purpose, promoting solidarity of the group, making whether they were 'true' or believed almost irrelevant.

A correspondence with Wright is that the gods had nothing to do with commanding human behavior or rewarding and punishing. The Ju/wasi took care of that extremely well themselves.



The following user would like to thank DWill for this post:
Saffron
Fri Apr 01, 2011 6:06 pm
Profile
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
I can has reading?

Silver Contributor

Joined: Apr 2008
Posts: 2955
Location: Randolph Center, VT
Thanks: 482
Thanked: 399 times in 303 posts
Gender: Female
Country: United States (us)

Post Re: Epilogue: Myth and Society
DWill has made two very interesting posts. It has been awhile since I read J. Campbell's book and have not had energy to dig it out (my books are still in piles from when I moved last year). I have been trying to remember what I liked and didn't about the book. Reading DWill's posts reminded me. I think Campbell was on to something in his investigation of Mythology. Before I explain my statement, let me take one step back to something DWill said in post #2.
Quote:
I thought of Robert Wright, too, while reading it, and the discussion we had earlier about whether earlier people saw myth and religion as metaphorical or literal. I think I oversimplified or was just wrong when I said that the gods and spirits were real or literal to the people who invented them. . . But the Ju/Wasi bushmen weren't ruled by either their myths or their gods. . . They had to survive and reserve their ultimate respect for the facts of life in the bush. Then what were the gods for? It wasn't necessarily to explain natural phenomena, as in many cases the Ju/wasi would just say they didn't know why something was the way it was; the Old People hadn't told them.


While reading The Old Way I was also struck by the pragmatic way the Ju/wasi explained their myths, gods and understanding or lack of understanding about the world. It was clear in the book that they did not take a literalist approach to their mythology. They acted in the world based on what made sense, on empirical evidence and not on dogma. The myths seem to serve more as a means of promoting group coherence and as a tool of enculturation.

Something DWill did not mention in his post is that the Ju/Wasi had a botanist's knowledge of the Kalahari Desert. According to Elizabeth Marshall, the author of The Old Way, the Ju/Wasi were as adept at plant identification in all seasons and stages of growth as any PhD botanist could ever hope to be. Western scholars have generally under estimated the scientific knowledge and abilities of people not of the first world (I was trying not to use the word "primitive"). On the surface it seems incompatible that a society that believe in superstitions and uses myth to explain the world would be lacking in scientific skills. This is an erroneous assumption.

I came across a similar underestimation in the book Collapse by Jarred Diamond. Diamond is describing the disappearance of the Easter Island society of the big heads (moai). One of the big mysteries is how those massive statues called moai were erected without the help of machinery. All kinds of theories have been put forth to explain; even aliens. It turns out all this time no one thought to ask the current inhabitants, the descendants of the folks who did the job. Finally a few years ago an anthropologist thought to ask and apparently the people were somewhat insulted that no one had asked previously. Not only did the people know, but they were able to demonstrate.

All this was really to make the point that we modern people assume that science (logic and rational thought) and the stuff of the unconscious mind (story telling, mythology, the arts) are incompatible, at odds, in competition. I believe they are part of the same process. More and more research on the workings of the human brain back this idea up (have a look at David Brooks' The Social Animal).

Now I am finally to what I want to say about Joseph Campbell. I think that he made many mistakes in how he thought about mythology, not to mention a bit sexist. He tried too hard to explain the symbols and what it all means. I don't actually think there are any specific meanings that are inherent in the symbols. I think the importance of myth is the story and the lessons to be learned by the hearer of the tale. Those lessons can be as simple as learning to feel like you belong to the group, or profound as a prescription on how to be the hero of your own life.

And this last quote from DWill's post seem just right at the end of my post.

Quote:
It simply seems to be natural for humans to make up stories, as unsatisfactory as that seems as an explanation. The stories had an overriding social purpose, promoting solidarity of the group, making whether they were 'true' or believed almost irrelevant.



The following user would like to thank Saffron for this post:
DWill, geo, Seraphim
Fri Apr 01, 2011 8:41 pm
Profile Email
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
Cunning Linguist


Joined: Jun 2010
Posts: 80
Location: In front of my computer
Thanks: 6
Thanked: 14 times in 11 posts
Gender: Female
Country: United States (us)

Post Re: Epilogue: Myth and Society
I'm just getting active again on this site, but I was curious about this book, so I decided to poke my nose in this thread to get an idea of how the book was received. I know I'm a bit backwards starting at the epilogue, but oh well. This discussion has caught my attention, so I've found a copy and have just begun, as I'm curious to see more of exactly what Campbell has to say about mythology.

Whatever his opinion, I do agree with Saffron's following comment:
Saffron wrote:
I think the importance of myth is the story and the lessons to be learned by the hearer of the tale. Those lessons can be as simple as learning to feel like you belong to the group, or profound as a prescription on how to be the hero of your own life.


People can create many different interpretations of symbols, but in the end, the lessons are what we take from these stories.

I look forward to reading this book and hopefully participating some more in the discussion.


_________________
Deep in the human unconscious is a pervasive need for a logical universe that makes sense. But the real universe is always one step beyond logic. ~ Frank Herbert, Dune


Fri Apr 01, 2011 10:13 pm
Profile Email
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
BookTalk.org Hall of Fame

Platinum Contributor
Book Discussion Leader

Joined: Jan 2008
Posts: 6874
Location: Luray, Virginia
Thanks: 2217
Thanked: 2416 times in 1822 posts
Gender: Male
Country: United States (us)

Post Re: Epilogue: Myth and Society
In case I didn't make it clear, The Old Way is a book really worth reading. The reader needs to be prepared for a sad ending, though. What would you guess would be the effects of an "advanced" society on a very simple, organic one?

There isn't any good thing that doesn't have a downside. The development of writing made our civilizations possible, but it also made literalism possible. I doubt the existence of fundamentalists among societies that shared their stories only through telling. Myth seems to be a matter of freely creating permutations; there isn't any one standard version of a myth. Only when stories came to be written down could anyone get the idea of labeling one version as authoritative. And even for a while after writing, the liberal view could have persisted. This could be away to look at the two accounts of creation in Genesis. We get all knotted up about the "contradictions" between the two, because we think in terms of a single, literal truth. We don't understand how the Hebrews could have accounted for the world in two different ways. We could be taking the content of the stories more seriously, and literally, than the the 'authors' did. Even today, the invitation, "Tell me a story," doesn't create an expectation that the teller will give us information, but that she will entertain us or stimulate our imaginations.



The following user would like to thank DWill for this post:
geo
Sat Apr 02, 2011 7:35 am
Profile
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
pets endangered by possible book avalanche

BookTalk.org Moderator
Platinum Contributor

Joined: Aug 2008
Posts: 4623
Location: NC
Thanks: 2102
Thanked: 2126 times in 1578 posts
Gender: Male

Post Re: Epilogue: Myth and Society
Saffron wrote:
On the surface it seems incompatible that a society that believe in superstitions and uses myth to explain the world would be lacking in scientific skills. This is an erroneous assumption.

I came across a similar underestimation in the book Collapse by Jarred Diamond. Diamond is describing the disappearance of the Easter Island society of the big heads (moai). One of the big mysteries is how those massive statues called moai were erected without the help of machinery. All kinds of theories have been put forth to explain; even aliens. It turns out all this time no one thought to ask the current inhabitants, the descendants of the folks who did the job. Finally a few years ago an anthropologist thought to ask and apparently the people were somewhat insulted that no one had asked previously. Not only did the people know, but they were able to demonstrate.

All this was really to make the point that we modern people assume that science (logic and rational thought) and the stuff of the unconscious mind (story telling, mythology, the arts) are incompatible, at odds, in competition. I believe they are part of the same process. More and more research on the workings of the human brain back this idea up (have a look at David Brooks' The Social Animal).


Beautifully said, Saffron. Thank you. I love the anecdote about Easter Island. Since you and DWill have recommended so many books that I want to read, I have to mention again A Short History of Progress by Ronald Wright. He discusses the rise and fall of several civilizations, including Easter Island, from an anthropologist's perspective. This book had a huge effect on me, much as Collapse seems to have had on you. Easter Island is pretty interesting as a society that seems to have gone insane. Competing tribes cut down every last tree in order to appease their gods, although I'm probably oversimplifying things.

I have always enjoyed Brooks' column in the NYTimes. I'll have to take a look at that book too.


_________________
-Geo
Question everything


The following user would like to thank geo for this post:
Saffron
Sat Apr 02, 2011 10:33 am
Profile
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
pets endangered by possible book avalanche

BookTalk.org Moderator
Platinum Contributor

Joined: Aug 2008
Posts: 4623
Location: NC
Thanks: 2102
Thanked: 2126 times in 1578 posts
Gender: Male

Post Re: Epilogue: Myth and Society
DWill wrote:
In case I didn't make it clear, The Old Way is a book really worth reading. The reader needs to be prepared for a sad ending, though. What would you guess would be the effects of an "advanced" society on a very simple, organic one?

There isn't any good thing that doesn't have a downside. The development of writing made our civilizations possible, but it also made literalism possible. I doubt the existence of fundamentalists among societies that shared their stories only through telling. Myth seems to be a matter of freely creating permutations; there isn't any one standard version of a myth.


That would explain why those who collected texts for the Bible would include two separate creation myths. I believe the second creation story is of later origin and, yet, both versions were included. Why? Perhaps they could appreciate the strengths of both myths from allegorical or symbolic perspectives. The creation stories were known to be much older and from different cultures and appreciated as such.

Lately I've been lamenting the decline of reading. It's ironic, however, that the ancient Greeks held similar concerns during the cultural transition from an oral to written tradition. Socrates apparently cautioned his society against learning to read because he believed it would negatively affect the way we pursue and internalize knowledge. See Wolf's article here:

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/06/opini ... 05396.html


_________________
-Geo
Question everything


Sat Apr 02, 2011 3:31 pm
Profile
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
pets endangered by possible book avalanche

BookTalk.org Moderator
Platinum Contributor

Joined: Aug 2008
Posts: 4623
Location: NC
Thanks: 2102
Thanked: 2126 times in 1578 posts
Gender: Male

Post Re: Epilogue: Myth and Society
I don't mean to harp on Campbell's shortcomings, but to me his discussions of the myth seemed rather clinical or sterile as if he chose to view them through one particular and rather esoteric lens. I would have loved some context, to learn more about the Aztec, African, and native American cultures from which the myths sprang. It would have made this book much more interesting in my opinion. That said, his discussions of Buddha really resonated with me and I even went out and bought Buddha by Karen Armstrong, who is a former nun. Despite her Catholic background, Armstrong really provides quite the scholarly, even Wright-esque, account of the Buddha myths. In fact, much of her introduction seemed perfectly relevant to our recent discussions about how the ancients read myths and to the discussions on BT about the relevance of myth and religion in modern times.

For example:

"The monks who evolved the Canon (Buddhism) would certainly have believed in the existence of the gods, even though they saw them as limited beings and, as we shall see, were beginning to regard them as projections of human psychological states."

and . . .

"The story of Gotama has particular relevance for our own period. We too are living in a period of transition and change, as was North India during the sixth and fifth centuries B.C.E. Like the people of North India, we are finding that the traditional ways of experiencing the sacred and discovering an ultimate meaning in our lives are either difficult or impossible. As a result, a void has been an essential part of the modern experience. Like Gotama, we are living in an age of political violence and have had terrifying glimpses of man’s inhumanity to man. In our society too there are widespread malaise, urban despair and anomie, and we are sometimes fearful of the new world order that is emerging.

Many aspects of the Buddha’s quest will appeal to the modern ethos. His scrupulous empiricism is especially congenial to the pragmatic tenor of our own Western culture, together with his demand for intellectual and personal independence. Those who find the idea of a supernatural God alien will also warm to the Buddha’s refusal to affirm a Supreme Being. He confined his researches to his own human nature and always insisted that his experiences—even the supreme Truth of Nibbana—were entirely natural to humanity. Those who have become weary of the intolerance of some forms of institutional religiosity will also welcome the Buddha’s emphasis on compassion and loving-kindness."

The entire introduction is worth a read. You can read it online here:

http://englishonline4u.wordpress.com/2010/09/21/1082/


_________________
-Geo
Question everything


The following user would like to thank geo for this post:
DWill
Sat Apr 02, 2011 3:52 pm
Profile
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
BookTalk.org Hall of Fame

Platinum Contributor
Book Discussion Leader

Joined: Jan 2008
Posts: 6874
Location: Luray, Virginia
Thanks: 2217
Thanked: 2416 times in 1822 posts
Gender: Male
Country: United States (us)

Post Re: Epilogue: Myth and Society
geo wrote:
Lately I've been lamenting the decline of reading. It's ironic, however, that the ancient Greeks held similar concerns during the cultural transition from an oral to written tradition. Socrates apparently cautioned his society against learning to read because he believed it would negatively affect the way we pursue and internalize knowledge.

Kids probably develop types of abilities we haven't developed, through their immersion in the digital world. Maybe these abilities are in general more of a rapid-fire nature and rely on a different logical template. I see these signs in what my kids do with and seem to intuit about computer technology, whereas I'm mostly baffled. So, about the only thing we know is that we won't have it both ways, that reading as we have known it probably won't be as important going forward, but that maybe there is a benefit to the newer ways. I'm not completely sure what "digital world" means, come to think of it. I tend to think of the social media as the main part of it, and can see that the more people are plugged in to this, the less time they have to be by themselves. Being truly alone for long stretches is the prime requirement for reading, IMO. The medium itself, i.e., whether the text is paper or pixels, shouldn't make a crucial difference.

The late Walter J. Ong did ground-breaking work in the field of the transition from orality to literacy to secondary orality. I had one of his books in my hand a long time ago and found it stimulating. Here's a little from Wiki on him:

Quote:
Ong's major concern in his works is the impact on culture and education of the shift from orality to literacy. Writing is a technology like other technologies (fire, the steam engine, etc.) that, when introduced to a "primary oral culture" (which has never known writing) has extremely wide-ranging impacts in all areas of life. These include culture, economics, politics, art, and more. Furthermore, even a small amount of education in writing transforms people's mentality from the holistic immersion of orality to interiorization and individuation.

Many of the effects of the introduction of the technology of writing are related to the fact that oral cultures require strategies of preserving information in the absence of writing. These include, for example, a reliance on proverbs or condensed wisdom for making decisions, epic poetry, and stylized culture heroes (wise Nestor, crafty Odysseus). Writing makes these features no longer necessary, and introduces new strategies of remembering cultural material, which itself now changes.

Because cultures at any given time vary along a continuum between full orality and full literacy, Ong distinguishes between primary oral cultures (which have never known writing), cultures with craft literacy (such as scribes), and cultures in a transition phase from orality to literacy, in which some people know of writing but are illiterate - these cultures have "residual orality".

Some of Ong's interests:

1. the historical development of visualist tendencies in Western philosophic thought
2. the mathematical transformation of thought in medieval and early modern logic and beyond
3. oral cyclic thought, which is characteristic of primary oral cultures, versus linear or historical or evolutionary thought, which depends on writing
4. the movement from oral heroic poetry to mock-heroic poetry in print culture to the realist tradition in literature to the modern antihero
5. the historical development in manuscript culture and print culture of the inward turn of personalized ego-consciousness, or individuality
6. the new dimensions of orality fostered by modern communication media that accentuate sound, which Ong calls secondary orality as it succeeds from, relies on, and coexists with writing
7. the origins and development of the Western educational system
8. the role and effects of Learned Latin in Western culture



Last edited by DWill on Mon Apr 04, 2011 7:48 am, edited 1 time in total.



The following user would like to thank DWill for this post:
geo
Mon Apr 04, 2011 7:46 am
Profile
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 19 posts ] • Topic evaluate: Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.  Go to page 1, 2  Next



Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:


Recent Posts 
• Please "Check In" here to the discussion of "Books do Furnish a Life" by Richard Dawkins

Mon May 17, 2021 9:45 pm

Mr. P

• Book Three: Toward Bethlehem - Chapter 1 & 2

Mon May 17, 2021 7:38 pm

Mr. P

• Excerpt From Behind The Lies by Mark R Beckner

Sun May 16, 2021 11:36 pm

mbeck322

• Behind The Lies - Crime Mysteries: Ebook on sale

Sun May 16, 2021 11:29 pm

mbeck322

• DUTCHESS COUNTY - drama based on the life of Washington Irving

Sun May 16, 2021 10:58 am

MichaelMartinDeSapio

• THE INCREDIBLE LIFE OF JOEY COLETTA - drama about a child actor in Hollywood

Sun May 16, 2021 10:55 am

MichaelMartinDeSapio

• Spent some time with a Legend of Freethought and a Champion of Reason today...

Sat May 15, 2021 10:13 pm

Mr. P

• Update RE: A Highly Involving Young Adult fiction book series

Sat May 15, 2021 4:02 pm

lizzyg92

• 99¢ Sale for Biotech Thriller Novels on Amazon

Sat May 15, 2021 1:07 pm

bionov

• Preserve, Protect, and Defend | barbar aappelbaum books

Sat May 15, 2021 12:00 pm

barbaraappelbaum

• Which type of books are most popular?

Sat May 15, 2021 10:40 am

alborzazar

• https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/opinion/joe-biden-s-systemic-socialism-opinion/ar-BB1gJTNF?ocid=msedg

Fri May 14, 2021 11:18 pm

LanDroid

• Racism as a primal instinct.

Fri May 14, 2021 10:49 pm

Harry Marks

• Contemporary Western Romance - ARC Reviewers Wanted - Releases May 20th - Breaking Wicked

Fri May 14, 2021 3:56 pm

BookBuzz

• New Contemporary Romance Needs Reviewers - Burlesque Baby

Fri May 14, 2021 2:25 pm

BookBuzz


Site Resources 
HELPFUL INFO:
Community Rules & Tips
Frequently Asked Questions
BBCode Explained
Author Interview Transcripts
Book Discussion Leaders

IDEAS FOR WHAT TO READ:
Bestsellers
Book Awards
Banned Books
• Book Reviews
• Online Books
• Team Picks
Newspaper Book Sections

WHERE TO BUY BOOKS:
• Coming Soon!

BEHIND THE BOOKS:
• Coming Soon!

PROMOTE YOUR BOOK!
Advertise on BookTalk.org
Promote your FICTION book
Promote your NON-FICTION book





BookTalk.org is a thriving book discussion forum, online reading group or book club. We read and talk about both fiction and non-fiction books as a community. Our forums are open to anyone in the world. While discussing books is our passion we also have active forums for talking about poetry, short stories, writing and authors. Our general discussion forum section includes forums for discussing science, religion, philosophy, politics, history, current events, arts, entertainment and more. We hope you join us!


Navigation 
MAIN NAVIGATION

HOMEFORUMSOUR BOOKSAUTHOR INTERVIEWSADVERTISELINKSFAQDONATETERMS OF USEPRIVACY POLICYSITEMAP

OTHER PAGES WORTH EXPLORING
Banned Book ListOnline Reading GroupTop 10 Atheism Books

Copyright © BookTalk.org 2002-2021. All rights reserved.

Display Pagerank