Thursday, September 15, 2005

The More Things Change....

No point to this post except to quote this illustration of what I said above:
How did history sound? The question is not so banal as it might first appear. For example, when we think of "literature" now we think for the most part of silent readers occupied, to use Benedict Anderson's memorable phrase, "in the lair of the skull." However, many genres were and are meant to be spoken or sung: the epic, the ballad, the sermon, the play. And many readers read aloud, even long after words began to be written down with spaces between them in order to facilitate silent reading. As many scholars writing in the wake of Jurgen Habermas have acknowledged, London's seventeenth- and eighteenth-century coffeehouses were sites for public reading of (and argument about) the contents of the latest newpapers in a cacophanous collision of caffeine, conversation, and print. (Didja catch that alliteration? That's a trick of the ear, not the eye, yet chances are you're not reading this aloud. Sound--or the idea of sound--can invade the lair of the skull, then, though probably not for everyone.)
Hmmm.... It sounds a lot like the coffee houses and blogs of today, doesn't it? Plus ca change, c'est la meme chose, eh?

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