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Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Additive rather than subordinative

Since I have thrown in with the ampersand in my previous post, let me share some really fun stuff. Robert Fowler has written the following in How the Secondary Orality of the Electronic Age Can Awaken Us to the Primary Orality of Antiquity .
    In Homeric epic we encounter the heaping up of stock formulas, such as "rosy fingered dawn" and "wily Odysseus," as well as the episodic construction of the narrative--'one thing after another.'

    Similarly in biblical narrative, we find waw consecutive and kai parataxis at the micro-level of expressions, while analogously at the macro-level the narration typically follows a fairly crude episodic arrangement. We seldom find in the Bible the more polished, more deeply literate periodic style recommended by Aristotle (Ong, 1982:37-39, 142-43).

    With print, words on a page begin to be organized according to a hierarchical logic. Levels of subordination begin to appear, signaled visually by typography. The printed page lends itself to analysis--it can be broken apart into discrete, independent components in a manner that would be impossible and pointless in oral, formulaic speech.

    Hypertext resurrects the associative, non-linear, non-hierarchical organization of information of primary orality. Bolter again explicitly likens the associative operations of hypertext to those of Homeric epic:

      Homer's repetitive formulaic poetry is a forerunner of topographic writing in the electronic writing space. The Homeric poet wrote by putting together formulaic blocks, and the audience 'read' his performance in terms of those blocks. The electronic writer and reader, programmer and user, do the same today. Like oral poetry and storytelling, electronic writing is a highly associative writing, in which the pattern of associations among verbal elements is as much as part of the text as the elements themselves. (Bolter, 1991:59)
I can't help but reflect on the kinds of series I write here, how the posts pile up in episodic blocks, without hierarchical organization. I was asked to put one series into a paper and it just boggled my mind.

HT: Loren Rosen The Busybody I also enjoyed his post on flaming.


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