Writing Before the Letter

Is there writing before the letter? What does grammatology, the science of writing teaches us? We have to first give up or suspend that the evolution of writing depended on the perfection of alphabetization. Maybe we have to give up thinking that writing is an exteriority to speech and speech is an exteriority to thought. This thinking flows on an assumption that supposes language Is an instrument of thought and writing is nothing but an extension of that instrumentation. This provides us dualist model of speech and writing and subordinates writing to speech and thought.

Can we there be writing that is no longer subordinated to speech and thought? When we leave our footprints on the web as we play with its networks, we leave our writings but they are no longer related to our speech and thought. We already have writing which does not represent our speech. The hierarchy of speech, thought and writing has collapsed over the web. All this suggests that evolution of writing does not depend on the evolution of speech. Writing on the web and the Big Data Analytics demonstrates that writing can evolve independently of speech. It actually manifests the dualism between writing, speaking and thinking is our own creation. Perhaps, we have to join Jacques Derrida to blur the boundary between writing and speaking.

We, therefore, have to critically consider the phonetization of writing. Our privileged reduction of all writing as phonetic writing does violence to non-phonetic writing. In its early stage, writing was associated with drawing and had every little to do with speaking. We can still find cave or rock paintings. Maybe it is phonetization of writing that reduced writing to mean phonetic writing alone. Phonetization drew lines of one to one correspondence between written word and spoken word and with the same stroke relegated all non-phonetic forms of writing to non-existence.

Besides, phonetization of writing, we also have to overcome the myth of linearization of writing. Not all forms of writings are linear. We have pictogram and rebus writing as forms of non-linear writing. Linearity is linked to phonetization of writing because it depends on the linear temporality of sound. Perhaps, we have subjected ourselves to successivity or linear logic of time because of our linear temporality of sound. Writing has to reproduce the linearity of the spoken word. This might have also influenced our modes of thinking which operate on the basis of linear logic of time.

What is important in writing is its ideogrammatic form. Today we can see especially on the web in the world of Big Data Analytics that graphic element of writing has escaped the domination of Spoken word. We can now look at writings away from the order of words. Cinematography, choreography , pictorial, musical and sculptural writings abound everywhere. Our footprints on the web also non-alphabetic writings. The genetic information in a living cell as well as the subatomic dance of matter are all different forms of writings. What they convey us are ideographic messages far away from the regime of voice or the spoken word. Therefore, it is now time that we get out of Platonic cave of thinking that reduces writing to phonetic alphabetization and see the sun of writing that embraces all forms of non-phonetic writing.

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Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

- Fr Victor Ferrao