Alphabetic Writings and our Society

Derrida invites us to think that everything is writing. This includes also our speaking. Body of the speaker has always acted as the support for his/her message. Perhaps, to draw these insights, we may have consider the work of Michel Serres. Although, Serres does not agree to reduce our speaking to writing, his intrumentalization of the body in act of communication comes very close to our understanding of speaking as writing. He taught that communication took place through voice or gestures wherein body was only instrument in use.

With the invention of drawing and alphabetic writing, the support system/ hardware of communication changed. Earlier the voice with its modulations and the face could communicate different emotions as one spoke ( wrote as Derrida wants us to accept). But with alphabetic writings, the role of the body became minimal and new support system a paper, a parchment and a book took center stage. Today, the book is already dead and computer or the mobile screen has taken the place of the support system for our communications. The role of the body is not ruled out but it has grown less over the changes that took place in support system.

The invention of the alphabetic writing reached its climax in the invention of a printing press which led to the diffusion of books/ information. Of course, the book is replaced by the internet today. The invention of alphabetic writing brought about an invention of pedagogy and the school/ classroom. With the profusion and penetration of the internet, we have a steady breakdown of the classroom as information transmission centre. Information can now reach seamlessly individuals across several boundaries. Classrooms are today replaced by virtual neighborhoods. Once again, the role of the body in the generation and transmission of knowledge has changed.

The discovery of the alphabet had converted us into a community. Humans had found several of their belongings besides kinships that were already strengthen by oral communication. Gender, nation, business, politics, and several other things came mainly on the back of written alphabet. One of the most important gift of the written alphabet with its becoming a printed word was the birth of the individual to our society. Today with the digitization of the alphabet, this individual is dying into what Gilles Deleuze christens as dividual. Digitization has not just divided the individual but also accelerated our society. Serres likens the youth of today to the decapitated Archbishop Denise of Paris who walked with his head in his hands. Serres says that the youth of today are walking headlessly with their computer in hands.

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Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

- Fr Victor Ferrao