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Posts Tagged ‘Sacred power: the written words

Sacred power: the written words; (August 10, 2009)

For an illiterate person, what is written is in effect a secret method to see without eyes and to hear without ears; these two characteristics can easily be partially compared to the power of a God: religious clerics proffer to the written Books as emanating from their Gods; the Books are the silent residence of Truth. 

An illiterate individual is readier than the literate persons to accepting any opinion or idea once he is told that they are set in writing.  Regardless of how writing was discovered and initially used among societies, its ultimate function was to control and empower the elite classes who could afford to teach their offspring and provide them with the administrative and political functions necessary for running a City or a State. As Claude Levi-Strauss hypothesized, the only tangible and consistent correlations with the creation of writing were the formation of cities and empires in order to administer the citizens by this secret and sacred weapon.

Actually, deciphering the codes (a special writing in itself) of the enemies was always a fundamental function of the elite class; those elites who could master the coding system were the higher-ups in the hierarchical echelon of governance.  Plato had criticized the inconvenience of relying on the written documents because first, the memory lose of its capacity, and second people who can read tends to believe that they should force an opinion and to pretend that they have good judgment even in subjects that they ignore completely, and third, because writing resembles painting which does not offer answers and it is not possible to argument on it: when we write we forget our target audience and communication is deficient.  However, when we rely on oral transmission then we have to rely on what we really know and which was inscribed in our mind.

Nothing has changed much.  The rate of practical illiterates around the world has not increased for five thousand years.  Languages are used as codes for all the professional disciplines; religious or secular.  A professional may submit hundreds of articles in professional publishing mediums and read his head off in professional conferences but that does not make him a literate person in other domains; actually, he may not be capable of transmitting his knowledge to the common people or disseminating his ideas verbally.  True scientists are those who tried their hands at simplifying their writing for people outside the circles of elites: that is the way of investigating the range of his true knowledge, how knowledge changed him, and how he contributed to humanity.

Laws are written in coded forms; medical manuscripts are written in coded forms; nomenclature and classifications are written in an amalgam of ancient Greek and Latin; everything is basically written in foreign languages and we are wondering why the spirit of the democratic systems are not applied by people.  We are wondering why people yearn for dictators and one State political party.

The rate of practical illiterates has actually increased from five thousands years ago.  Audio-visual languages are supplanting the written languages; people have to add faces (smiling, angry, or sad) to what they are writing; effectively meaning “Listen, I cannot articulate my feelings; if you cannot understand what I wrote to you then never mind. Just capture my state of emotions.”  Very few have their cortex still developing; most of us are wallowing in our limbic brain.

Cicero was the first educated Roman to write in the vulgar Latin while the Greek language was reserved for the Roman elites.  Galileo wrote his scientific observations in the vulgar Italian which had the potential to transmitting his revolutionary discovery (that it is earth that rotates around the sun) more widely; making this fact accessible to the common people forced the Catholic Inquisition to prosecute Galileo and his ideas viewed contrary to the Church dogma. The Emperor Charles V ordered Erasmus to translate Aristotle to German; Martin Luther who translated the Scriptures into German because the Bible should be written in a living language that does not require the interpretation of the priests and the bishops which facilitated the Protestant religious upheaval against the central Papal power.

There are basically two approaches in political philosophy.  First, either you consider the governance of a State as a unity (usually compared to the human body) and thus the function of the government is to unite the divergences of the citizens by alternative means, mostly strong arms tactics by spreading fear and humiliation.  This approach inevitably is concreted simply in a theocracy because the dictator, monarch, or Prince is referred only to a God to control his responsibilities and obligations.  Second, you admit divergences and try means to unite on common denominators, this approach in political philosophy realizes that this process cannot  function unless the elected representatives, for limited duration in governance, give turns to the opposition groups to correct errors and show the effectiveness of their alternative ideas.

Plato described democracy as theocracy because the politicians have to act up before the voters a game that we all learn to perform since childhood at various degrees of convincing effects. It is the responsibility of the people to teach their political officials to act as responsible delegates. The people need to read and write in a language they can comprehend; the coded languages have to be translated to layman languages and in real-time.  Democracy is not feasible before the language is not owned by the common people at large.





June 2021

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