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December 15, 2014 / Fantelius

Magnificent Ignorance 4 – Language 2

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Technology + language = writing
Writing began from a need to keep records. At first pebbles or seeds stood for chickens or sheep. 10 white pebbles equaled 10 sheep, 6 flat stones equaled 6 cows, and so on. When people started creating graphic symbols to represent things and numbers the union of language and technology was conceived.

The first writings entailed scraping on stone, scratching on wood or indenting clay, 3 dots, a triangle, 2 diagonal lines, etc. Technologically simple, culturally sublime. These first markings grew into hieroglyphics, cuneiform and other primitive writings. It took 5000 years for the seeds of the scratchings to bear fruit in an alphabet first devised by Palestinians 3000 years ago.

Note that despite the advantages of an alphabet, oriental cultures have made great technological, philosophical and literary achievements using icon representation, often far in advance of the alphabet cultures. If anything, this shows us that language is an aid for thinking. It doesn’t determine thought. More about this later.

The written form of communication consists of two intellectual disciplines. We can speak of two separate languages or a compound of two languages. Writing combines the literary form of communication with the mathematical form. Literature is emotional, holistic, abstract and chaotic whereas mathematics is logical, measurable, specific and scientific. Without writing and its ability to handle numerical notation there can be neither mathematics or science. Repeat with emphasis: without writing, no math or science.
Science is a function of technological (written) language.

A tangle of confusion
Writing can also be described as information technology. That which is called information technology today, IT, is factually DIGITAL information technology. Language technology can be found on 3 levels or stages: Basic (manual) IT, Printed (mechanical) IT and Digital (electronic) IT, or BIT, PIT and DIT if you so will.

The reason that digital information technology, DIT, is referred to merely as IT stems from the magnificent ignorance about the nature of technology. See Magnificent Ignorance 1 – Technology and Magnificent Ignorance 2 – Technology 2

The confusion deepens or should I say, the magnificent ignorance thickens, because the word information is misleading. Clarity would require the word communication instead. The difference between communication and information is decisive. Calling communication technology for information technology hides an essential aspect of language technology, confuses rather than clarifies, and fuels the engines of propaganda. I’ll discuss communication contra information, as well as BIT, PIT and DIT, in a coming blog, Now, I’ll conclude this one with an essential aspect of written (technological) language.

Writing is an enormously powerful technological invention. One of humanity’s most important. It is to the soul what fire is to the flesh. Not only does it form the foundation of math and science, it allows for any expression or statement to reach any number of people anywhere, and it owns permanency. Independent of time and unlimited to receivers it forms the memory of humanity.

Writing requires energy. Compared to speaking, it is expensive. We don’t think of the costs, because we can afford the cheapest forms, and even these provide delicious intellectual power. Speaking is a biological ability acquired naturally and used effortlessly. Writing is a technological instrument that requires education and materials, both of which come with a price. Because of the power it provides and the costs involved, the rulers at the top of society have always controlled it.

The control of the written word was obvious for thousands of years. Pharaohs, kings and emperors decorated themselves with a string of scribes who managed their correspondence, wrote their decrees and sang their praises. The people, at least 95% of the population, were illiterate up until the most recent period of history.

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“I’m not illiterate.” he shouted back defensively, “I have a mother and a father.”

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Due to the power and costs of technological language it remains in the hands of the rulers today in spite of general literacy and theoretical freedom of speech. Although not as obvious and not as complete as in former times, the control determines the condition of the cultural atmosphere. Freedom of speech sounds lovely, but the freedom for the few who own a media corporation or channels of distribution or can buy megatons of advertisements exceeds the freedom of millions of Jacks and Jills shouting from screens, alleys and hills. Modern pharaohs, kings and emperors command their politicians, lawyers and scribes from the court of boardrooms. The rulers wield enormous technological language power to promote their view of the world. We need merely witness the magnificent ignorance holding down the possibilities of humanity to build a garden of peace in the light of justice.

I can strongly recommend Michael Parenti’s book The Assassination of Julius Caesar for a deeper understanding of cultural control and bias. Enjoyable reading and deep insights; a blast from the past shedding light on the present.

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“Language isn’t pretty complicated, it’s beautifully complicated.”
Dartwill Aquila

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PalestineMap

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2 Comments

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  1. camelien / Dec 15 2014 12:54 pm

    “I’m not illiterate.” he shouted back defensively, “I have a mother and a father.”
    Is that one of ‘Dubya’s infamous quotes? Kidding, of course; but am sure you get the snow of my drift.

    btw, “the control determines the condition of the cultural atmosphere” is a profound observation; seems evident to me, too, having heard repetition of ‘exact’ language or “buzz words” used over and over regardless of network witnessed when channel surfing cable’s ‘MSM.’ seems to me there’s deliberate complicit repetitive delivery of the ‘controllers’ “feed” by talking head ‘experts’ that fills unsuspecting viewers’ appetites’ for “news” via flattering their patriotic egos or filling their souls with ‘fear.’ it’s aired in color, of course; but language is always ‘black & white” to the ‘controllers.’

    • Fantelius / Dec 15 2014 2:21 pm

      Part of the “deliberate complicit repetitive delivery” is created structurally. Cutting down on journalists – and harrassing them to produce quickly – makes it all the more necessary to rely on the wire services. What we often see in dozens of newspapers is merely a single press release altered slightly by different reporters. Thanks for your colorful black & white comment.

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