Tuesday, April 19, 2011

This is probably way too deep for a well.

As inveterate readers of Ad Aged know well, most days, like 99 and 44/100s of days I am ensconced deep inside a book of some sort. I love reading and learning. I think it helps moderate my moods and gives me hope that there is intelligent life on earth at a time when even "The New York Times" spends as much ink, digital and otherwise, covering Donald Trump's presidential bid as it does to the important issues of our day and our civilization.

In any event, I am always looking for something interesting to lose myself in and right now I am lost in the first hundred pages of a book called "A History of the World in 100 Objects." Something I read last night really poked me in the eye.

I'm going to go over it in broad strokes.

Stories and writing, many thousands of years ago belonged to the community. There was not one author of Gilgamesh, or even the Iliad and the Odyssey or the Torah. These collections were the shared consciousness of groups of people. They lived and breathed and people participated in their creation.

In many ways, stories in a pre-literate world were much like You Tube is today. Anyone can toss something in and see if it sticks.

But as story-telling and ideas grew in complexity, as the technology of writing progressed, writing became professionalized. Writing, after all, enabled complex thought. As MacGregor says in "A History...""There's a limit to what you can do with the spoken word. You cannot really do higher mathematics or even more complex forms of philosophical argument unless you have some way of writing it down and scanning it."

In short, writing--thinking really--became too important to be left to amateurs. It became the domain of bigger minds, like Aristotle, Socrates and Plato.

To my mind--and I could be wildly wrong here, a similar thing will happen with new media. Right now any idiot (myself included) can "self-publish." But as time progresses, real thinkers, we can only hope, will take over.

1 comment:

Jeroen Bours said...

It is the decade (and maybe more than one decade) of the art director, the designer, the photo editor and the art buyer. Long live the visual. Gone are the long form advertisements which I cherished in my earlier career and worked countless hours on to copy-fit and typographically design them to Ralph Ammirati's standards. Am I happy that we can publish books with pictures only? I should be, I'm an art director by birth. But I'm not really. I still think that the word is mightier than any Gettyimage will ever be, because words never fade.