Oral Genealogy is Ephemeral

December 17th, 2007

“Narrators narrate what audiences call for or will tolerate. When the market for a printed book declines, the presses stop rolling but thousands of copies may remain. When the market for an oral genealogy disappears, so does the genealogy itself, utterly.” (66).

This is certainly logical in consideration of the printed word. When the call for a given text declines or subsides, it remains, since it is a tangible form. Conversely, an oral genealogy will vanish if the need and the members to carry it on are gone. However, this is not the case with digital orality Read the rest of this entry »

Conservative and/or Traditionalist

December 2nd, 2007

“Oral societies must invest great energy in saying over and over again what has been learned arduously over the ages. This need establishes highly traditionalist or conservative set of mind that with good reason inhibits intellectual experimentation. … By storing knowledge outside the mind, writing and, even more, print downgrade the figures of the wise old man and the wise old woman, repeaters of the past, in favor of younger discoverers of something new.” (Orality and Literacy, 41).

Similarly, Eric Havelock writes (as quoted in O&L):

“The text frees the mind of conservative tasks, that is, of its memory work, and thus enables the mind to turn itself to new speculation (Havelock 254-305). (41).

Essentially, primary orality remained traditional out of necessity. Read the rest of this entry »