- Priscilla Long
The assignment of commenting on the world began with
the first manifestations of human art, even though the
this implies that in the attend of such commentary has been lost,
and can merely consistently stay so.
Alphabet. As notes salvage song, so the alphabet rankings speech. Letters are notes for the song of language, and this explains two outmoded practices that after mystified me. Till the Center Ages scribes didnotseparatewords. (Punctuation had yet to be invented.) And first and most well-known readers be taught out loud, in no design silently. I now demand how studying words is enjoy studying song.
E-book. I esteem a lustrous book. I esteem the if fact be told feel of the pages as I turn them, the burden of the book in my hands. I esteem French flaps and deckle edges. I esteem book terms: foredge, foot, backbone, head, headband, endpaper, flyleaf, pastedown, colophon, frontispiece, bastard title, font, the finials of fonts, form box, gutter. I fetch in my hands a book, Uruk: The First City of the Pale World. Its pages fabricated from coated stock are colossal and heavy and soundless as silk. Its endpapers relate a scheme of Uruk, positioned in latest-day southern Iraq, metropolis walls aloof it seems that visible. The book is illustrated with photos of excavated temples and statues and clay capsules inscribed with the world’s first writing. (Or, one of the first. Recent excavations have published early Egyptian writing novel with it. Gape forward.) Uruk, the book, incorporates words mute by what could presumably perhaps merely had been the world’s first named creator, the excessive priestess Enheduanna. She wrote 4,200 years previously all the design thru a time of war and disaster. Enheduanna’s words reward the goddess Inanna, divine ruler of the metropolis of Uruk:
Let it’s identified that you just are deal exalted enjoy heaven!
Let it’s identified that you just’re immeasurably gigantic enjoy the earth!
Enheduanna modified into absolutely a intrepid girl, but evidence that she modified into an creator could presumably perhaps perhaps be doubtful. Gape The Sumerians by Paul Collins.
Total Writing. Steven Roger Fischer, in his book A Ancient previous of Writing, defines “total writing” as that which 1) will must have conversation as its purpose; 2) must consist of man-made graphic marks on a surface; and 3) must employ marks that elaborate to mature speech. “Total writing,” then, is fully a minute phase of the many important marks made by our ancestors, alongside with notches—decrease strains—outmoded as mnemonics as a ways attend as Homo erectus.
Writing has every other definition: visible speech. Speech that would also merely additionally be seen could presumably perhaps merely embody indicators that attain no longer bear “synthetic graphic marks on a surface.” Such because the account for machine of knotted ropes (khipu) outmoded by the worn Incas to focus on.
Diary. To put in writing day-to-day in a diary is to commune with the self. Is diary writing, then, a salvage of conversation? It’s as if the self had been two or more persons that had something to claim to one every other. How are you feeling this day? What’s on your agenda? What’s going down, pricey creator? Who and the design are your beloveds? What’s in the right here of right here and what’s in the now of now?
I’ve in no design comprehended how these that attain no longer preserve a diary or journal can assume in regards to the extent of their thoughts or emotions, their imaginings or dreams or deliberations or doldrums or delights. A diary is a pal to whom all issues could presumably perhaps perhaps be spoken.
English. I am monolingual, swimming in English, trapped in English, struggling to flee English by studying French. My progress is heart-broken, however the door is start. To be internal the cathedral of a language is to be internal a specific observe of the world. In French you don’t express “My name is Priscilla.” You express “Je m’appelle Priscilla” (“I name myself Priscilla”). Less fastened, more engaging. You don’t express “my hands,” you express “les mains” (the hands). Diverse ways of announcing, diversified ways of seeing.
Fire. Books burn. Especially books fabricated from the interior bark of the wild fig tree. These had been the codices (mature-vogue books) of Mayan civilization. In 1562, a Catholic priest, Diego de Landa, modified into assigned to “inflict Catholicism on the Mayan of us,” in the words of Susan Orlean in The Library E-book. Landa brought on the torture and ruin of varied Mayans and burned most of their books. He wrote that these books contained “lies of the devil, and we burned them all, which they regretted to an remarkable stage, and which brought on them principal affliction” (quoted in Ambivalent Conquests by Inga Clendinnen, second edition). Simplest four Mayan codices stay.
Gods. Our species, Homo sapiens, is about 200,000 years mature. A younger, younger species. And we are the fully species to pay homage or pray to gods or goddesses or god. Our advance relatives, the chimpanzees, as an instance, attain no such whine. When, in our existence as a species, did gods come to be phase of it? When did the Sumerian goddess of writing, Nidaba, come into being? She’s going to must have arrived on the scene about when cuneiform regarded, between 5 and 6 thousand years previously. Nidaba originated as a grain goddess, but as Sumer turned more urban, she modified occupations. She modified into broadly worshipped, and Sumerian literary texts regularly conclude with “Reward be to Nidaba!”
And what of the Egyptian god of writing, Thoth, in the words of Fischer: “ibis-headed scribe of the gods, healer, lord of all recordsdata, and patron of students”?
Handwriting. There is the if fact be told feel of paper on fingertip, silken or mushy or textured with a laid carry out. A pocket book could presumably perhaps merely additionally be pocket-sized or additional sizable as in the cumbersome easy book wherein I now preserve my journal. This Sizable E-book is 13 inches mountainous, 11 inches broad, 2 inches elephantine. A two-page spread opens to 22 inches broad. So, room sufficient. In the pocket book, of whatever dimension, that it’s possible you’ll express making letters, drawing letters. You’ll want to maybe write sideways or slantwise or in circles. You’ll want to maybe blueprint photos next to your words. You’ll want to maybe dream, that it’s possible you’ll snide out words, write them all over again, start all over again. You’ll want to maybe presumably perhaps perhaps presumably also very neatly be free, at liberty. Here’s the aloof, intimate space of composition. By comparability, the keyboard is an organization office machine.
Invisible. My must write is compulsive, addictive, all-absorbing. I am presently filling my 324th journal, and I if fact be told have stuffed various diversified notebooks as neatly. Will we’ve to write because, even though we could presumably perhaps perhaps be jumpy and reclusive, we must aloof be identified? As rather one in college I modified into called “twin” (my twin sister modified into also called “twin”). I modified into aloof, and no one paid principal consideration to me. Am I a creator because I desire to be seen, to be remembered? To recede a file of my existence? Four thousand years previously, an Egyptian scribe wrote, “A individual has perished and his body has modified into earth. All his relatives have crumbled to mud. It is writing that makes him remembered” (quoted in Fischer).
Jerome. Saint Jerome lived from 347–420 CE. Inside of the Catholic Church he’s regarded as patron saint of archaeologists, biblical students, librarians, students, and translators. There exist a total bunch of art work of Saint Jerome, alongside with art work by Lucas Cranach the Elder, Leonardo da Vinci, and Giovanni Bellini. Practically invariably Saint Jerome is confirmed studying a book or leaning over his desk, writing. He modified into a prolific creator and is fully identified for translating the bible into Latin (the Vulgate Bible). For our issues, though, Saint Jerome is most important for seeing the significance of punctuation. He devised a roughly punctuation, where earlier than there modified into none. He caught the beginnings of phrases out into the margins. In this implies that that it’s possible you’ll expose what words went together, when to employ a breath.
Knots. Khipu (Quechuan, quipu). These had been account for records made with knotted cords by the worn Incas of Peru. There modified into a horizontal twine (infrequently wood) from which depended diversified cords. as many as a thousand or fifteen hundred. The suspended cords (pendants) had been elaborately knotted with diversified kinds and colors and spacings of knots. Many khipu had been organized on the decimal machine, working enjoy a rope abacus. They recorded the motion of issues, labor, and products and services over the big Inca empire. In the 1500s, a Spanish chronicler, Martin de Murua, recorded this fable of a khipu archive:
Thus the accountants have big heaps . . . of these strings, in the salvage of registries . . . and can merely any individual must know something, they must attain not more than depart to and not using a doubt one of many Quipucamayoc [khipu keepers] and ask him how principal this whine modified into, or which Inca made this legislation, [or] who conquered such and this kind of province, [or] who had been his captains, [or] wherein 365 days modified into it dry and which fertile, [or] when had been there pestilence and wars, [or] when did definite Indians insurgent, [or] when did a definite volcano erupt, [or] when did a definite river flood and ruin the fields? Then, the accountant would take in his cords and gives them a studying/interpretation . . . without making a single mistake (translated and quoted by Gary Urton).
Some specific knots and colors could presumably perhaps merely have represented space names—specifying where this khipu came from. And something—to this level, each person is conscious of no longer what—will must have identified objects being counted. If definite colors or forms of knots represented words, then, below the definition visible speech, khipu modified into writing.
Library. The odor of mature books, their glue and embossed covers and sewn bindings. The load of a elephantine book on your hand as you turn the page. The silence seeming to emanate from rows and stacks of books. The rustling of every other patron knocking down a book, opening it, turning its pages.
Harvard University’s Widener Library. Even supposing I modified into unaffiliated with Harvard, I spent years in the stacks of Widener. A pal who modified into a professor enabled my entry by making me and not using a doubt one of his “learn assistants.” I did nothing for him but researched 365 days after 365 days a history of coal mining in the usa whereas working at my day job as a printer. Widener Library is named for a son, an avid reader who went down with the Tall. It opened in 1915. It has fifty miles of shelves and incorporates more than three million volumes. Here modified into a row of technical manuals on pointers on how to mine coal dating from the 1860s and 1870s. Here modified into every topic of The Miner’s Journal and The Workingman’s Suggest. Here I would salvage all choked up over forgotten coal mine failures and alternatively thrill to new discoveries stumbled on in mature documents, mature books. Treasures sitting quietly, infrequently for decades, waiting to be opened all over all over again.
Mesopotamia. In Mesopotamia, the space positioned between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in what is now Iraq, writing emerged around 3,300 BCE. The language modified into Sumerian, the script cuneiform. It emerged in the context of and not using a doubt one of many world’s first cities, Uruk, positioned advance the Euphrates. Sumerian is what is identified as an isolate language, the fully and not using a doubt one of its form. Its antecedents are unknown, and it died slightly than evolve into some later language. The land, identified as Sumer, modified into made up of metropolis states (Uruk and Ur are the fully identified) and produced the world’s first fable poem, the Story of Gilgamesh. It is unknown where the of us of Sumer came from. Their writing grew out of the an increasing selection of complicated file-holding requires on a rising elite in Uruk. The earliest texts embody no longer fully records of commerce and tribute, but additionally lexicons—lists of words to be practiced by pupil scribes. In later instances, to 2300 BCE, Sumerian texts included inscriptions and incantations as well to private correspondence.
Came the Akkadians, who had been Semitic, who regularly dominated the land, who realized Sumerian but additionally began writing the Akkadian language in cuneiform script. Gilgamesh modified into a semi-mythic king of Uruk (he looks on the Sumerian List of Kings) however the Sumerian oral fable modified into written down in cuneiform in Akkadian. Progressively, over the centuries the Sumerians had been swamped out, or assimilated, by the Akkadians. Sumerian, the spoken language, vanished about four thousand years previously. It has no surviving descendants or relatives.
No-No Boy. John Okada modified into a creator. He wrote the radical No-No Boy, printed in 1957. Okada died of a coronary heart assault at age 47. After his demise, a second fresh, which he had brought to some form of draft, modified into burned.
No-No Boy tells the fable of Ichiro Yamada, age 25. The 365 days is 1947, the space, Seattle. My metropolis. Following the conclude of World Battle II, Ichiro returns home. He has no longer been to war but as a change has spent two years in penal complicated following two years in an internment camp. Before that he had been a college pupil. He modified into sent to penal complicated for having said no to joining the navy and no to loyalty to the usa, the nation of his initiating, the nation that compelled his West Drift family into an internment camp all the design thru the war, as a result of their Japanese ancestry. Ichiro returns to Seattle to a mentally ailing mother who believes that Japan gained the war—in her observe the newspapers are lying in regards to the Allied victory. He returns to an alcoholic father. He returns to Seattle’s Japantown, to a community that fears and scorns him, to a brother who gained’t articulate to him. On his means home, he runs into a outdated classmate who spits on him.
The creator, John Okada, modified into no no-no boy; Okada served in the navy. He struggled to write his fresh in the 1950s, after his day job as a librarian. It modified into printed, but infrequently any individual be taught it. The few reviewers panned it. The Japanese American community wanted no phase of it. John Okada modified into a creator and not using a readers.
Now that he’s long gone, his fresh has modified into a classic of American literature. It finds a world that I, for one, had no entry to. Even though I’m neatly accustomed to The US’s racist internment of West Drift persons of Japanese ancestry all the design thru World Battle II. Even though I’ve walked—seventy years later—the dingy, rundown Seattle streets that Ichiro Yamada walked. However the shattered and emotionally conflicted world of this Asian American community after the war, the lived ride of it, modified into entirely closed to me till I be taught No-No Boy.
In studying you modified into the character. You ride his discouragement, his self-loathing, his strivings, the kindness that in the end comes to him. Here’s what writing does. Here’s what studying does. It lets you hurry in somebody else’s shoes, to are living in somebody else’s world.
I if fact be told have put No-No Boy on my interior most listing of the a hundred fully books be taught in a lifetime.
Origins. We now have cuneiform, foundation Sumer. We now have Linear A, on the island Crete, which records speech sounds from a now-lost language, and on which Linear B, an early Greek dialect, is considerably based entirely. We now have Egyptian hieroglyphs. We now have Chinese language, which originated in crack marks in burnt bones and turtle shells that scribes outmoded for divination. We now have, in Mesoamerica, Olmec writing, the first on the continent, undeciphered. We now have the sizable Olmec heads with their downturned mouths. We now have Olmec impact on subsequent Mesoamerican civilizations alongside with the enormous Maya civilization. In Breaking the Maya Code, Michael D. Coe writes: “at a given stage of social and political evolution, diversified societies across the globe come at very identical solutions to identical issues, in this case, the need by early dispute societies to bring together permanent, visual records of impermanent, spoken language.”
Coe put no longer need agreed with the observe of Steven Roger Fischer in his Ancient previous of Writing: “Having been practiced in Mesopotamia and facets east for some two thousand years, the postulate of total writing diffused from there to north-Central China, where, as a result of the requires of the Chinese language language, writing went on to rob its distinctive East Asian cast.” Fischer comments on the similarities between Chinese language and Mesoamerican writing. Both occur in vertical columns be taught from top to bottom. Both employ compound “glyph blocks” containing two or more sounds, most of which are logosyllabic: the indicators stand for morphemes—no longer sounds however the minimum ticket denoting a this implies that. Fischer speculates—there’s no evidence—that worn Chinese language vessels could presumably perhaps merely had been carried north by the Kuroshio latest, which flows strongly north, after which driven east by the westerlies from the Some distance East to California after which south to Mexico. Here’s what came about to Spanish galleons centuries later. It is thus that it’s possible you’ll bear in mind that Chinese language exerted an impact on Mesoamerican writing around 700 BCE.
However it absolutely is more possible that Chinese language did not exert an impact on Mesoamerican writing. The Olmec “had been the first to put together what each person is conscious of as Mesoamerican culture,” writes Michael D. Coe, and their civilization modified into “in beefy flower” by 1200 BCE. Their earliest writing stumbled on to this level dates to about 650 BCE. The Olmec lived on the Gulf of Mexico facet of the Yucatan Peninsula. Fischer’s lost sailors would have wanted to be literate—how possible is that? They would have wanted to be carrying some form of written document, each and every produced by hand in the centuries earlier than printing—how possible is that? And having landed on the Pacific Ocean facet of Mexico, they would have needed to traverse the 200 miles across the peninsula to the Olmec facet—this belief is initiating to sound a ways-fetched.
What of Egyptian hieroglyphics? Did they arise independently from cuneiform (there don’t appear to be any overlapping marks or symbols)? Or, by assignment of cultural diffusion carried by traders, modified into the belief of representing spoken speech with indicators brought to Egypt from Sumer? The Sumerian language modified into monosyllabic; perhaps that enabled Sumerians to manufacture the rebus—indicators that represented, no longer total words, no longer tips or objects or names, but sounds, such as a drawing of an look for to indicate “I.” Fischer writes that it modified into the rebus that Sumerians gave to the Egyptians—and to the the leisure of the world.
However new discoveries of ever-older writing are overwriting mature conclusions. The discovery, in 1988, of what is identified because the U-j tomb in Abydos, Egypt, included finds of the earliest Egyptian writing, done around 3250 BCE. This modified into the tomb of an elite ruler, and the writing—on ceramic vessels, seal impressions, and small ivory labels —depicts regular African (no longer Sumerian) fauna. It’s dated to advance the time of the earliest Sumerian writing and supports the postulate of the just pattern of writing in Egypt.
Online page. A easy page in an start pocket book or sketchbook is a aloof invitation to write or to blueprint. It’s a space wherein to recount, and, “articulation,” writes Edward Hirsch in How to Read a Poem, “gratifies, and the act of making is itself a huge comfort.”
Quality of Attention. The salvage gives lickety-split recordsdata: In three seconds I ascertain the which assignment of quiddity—the inherent nature or essence of someone or something. I ascertain that on for the time being, February 9, 2019 CE, there are blizzard warnings across the dispute of Washington. I pay consideration to a lustrous, unhappy fable, “There Will Advance Mushy Rains” by Ray Bradbury, sent to me straight on electronic mail by a pal, be taught to me by Leonard Nimoy on YouTube. I’ll Facebook to take a look at up on my nieces and nephews.
All factual. However the digitization of our lives is causing a hasty deterioration of the effective of our consideration. This contains the effective of my consideration. And even though I am somewhat digitized, I am much less digitized than many others. Persons in their twenties, per a gaze by Time, Inc., take a look at their cell phone on a median of 150 to 190 instances per day. Studying on-line, we be taught as many words as we did earlier than. However, per Maryanne Wolf’s alarming book Reader, Advance Dwelling, we are studying by “skimming, skipping, and taking a peep” in an ambiance of constant distraction. And, if we invent mainly on-line, this turns into the means we write—multitasking, skimming, skipping, taking a peep. Distraction is altering our brains, our very ability to be taught quietly, to be taught longer sentences, longer passages, to seek. The frequent memory span of many adults, Wolf experiences, has diminished by 50 percent over the previous decade.
The resolution is rarely any longer to eschew the digital world—a foolish, very no longer going belief—but to reserve time day-to-day to be taught quietly a broadcast book. And writers: A pocket book fabricated from paper can no longer ding you or electronic mail you or give you an lag hatch into the morass of distraction and trivialities that is the cyber internet.
Studying. Studying, as Alberto Manguel elaborates in his book A Ancient previous of Studying, came earlier than writing. Pale astronomers be taught the celebrities. Pale hunters be taught animal tracks. Pale diviners be taught the center of sacrificed animals. Even this day, studying is rarely any longer entirely about studying writing. Farmers be taught the sky to take a look at the weather. Card players be taught the faces of their opponents. Lovers be taught each and every diversified’s faces. All these readers “attribute this implies that to a machine of indicators after which decipher it” (Manguel). Silent, the fully phase of studying is studying books. Books written by writers.
Spaces. Literature creates spaces—rooms, cities, landscapes, worlds. There are literary spaces a reader can enter and salvage lost in. A book holds a world, and it is also a assignment of transportation to previous worlds, to locations distant. Sven Birkerts, in The Gutenberg Elegies, imagines a describe wherein a girl sits on a backyard bench with a book in her lap, observing into the gap. She is “planted in a single fact, the backyard atmosphere, whereas adrift in the spell of every other.” Books allow us to waft in the space of a fact diversified from the one we are studying in.
Tombstone. Textual jabber material message carved on an mature Unique England tombstone:
Loss of life is a debt to nature due
which I if fact be told have paid and so must you.
Unknown. The worn Minoans on the island of Crete began writing between 1950 and 1700 BCE. They outmoded two scripts, possible representing two languages, one hieroglyphic and the diversified dubbed Linear A. This per L. Vance Watrous in his book Minoan Crete. Linear A in the end modified the hieroglyphic script. Linear A modified into the writing and language of the enormous trading middle Knossos. The Minoans had been seafaring of us. Traders. They made brightly colored pottery and jewelry and painted frescoes on the walls. Literacy modified into rather standard; capsules and diversified inscribed objects had been stumbled on in excavated homes all across Crete. Fairly about a the deities portrayed are female. Ladies folk, Watrous writes, performed elevated roles in Minoan society.
What came about to Minoan civilization? It modified into no question weakened by the eruption of the volcano on the nearby island of Thera. This anxiety came about at some aloof-debated time around 1600 BCE. The volcano ejected four instances as principal cloth as did the volcano on Krakatoa in 1883 CE. Its tsunami devastated ships and coastal cities and weakened Knossos. Finally, Mycenaeans, a more militaristic of us from the southern peninsula of mainland Greece, took over Crete and developed Linear A into Linear B, an early salvage of Greek. The language spoken and written by the Minoans remains unknown.
Vatic. Vatic, touching on prophecy, from the Latin vates, seer. Chinese language writing originated in vatical issues. The distinctive Chinese language scribes, working in the 14th century BCE, had been grasp diviners. To divine they would express a sizzling impress to cattle bones or to tortoise shells. The warmth would crack the bones, and the scribes would be taught the crack strains in solution to questions requested. They would then engrave the date and purpose of the ceremony next to the magic cracks. Later would come the enormous Chinese language poets Li Bai, Du Fu, Wang Wei . . .
Writing. Writing widens the space for individual feeling, for paradoxical emotion, for self-integration, for second thoughts, for confession (Edward Hirsch, How to Read a Poem). Writing lets you demand what you are thinking and feeling, what you’re thinking that, what you employ into fable. By writing that it’s possible you’ll elegize or rhapsodize or argue with yourself or with every other.
X, Malcolm. Malcolm X illustrates the advance-miraculous transformation that can presumably perhaps occur in a individual’s progress from illiteracy to literacy. As he recounts in The Autobiography of Malcolm X, in penal complicated, doing time for a lifetime of hustling and theft, he stumbled on that he did not know sufficient words to be taught a book. He did not know most words. He admired a definite recount fellow inmate and, in emulation, tried to be taught, but it modified into, he said, enjoy studying Chinese language. He could presumably perhaps perhaps barely write. He thought if he could presumably perhaps perhaps salvage a dictionary and a few capsules to write on, alongside with pencils, he could presumably perhaps perhaps be taught about a words.
The penal complicated college supplied a dictionary. He said, “I’d in no design realized so many words existed!”
After two days of rifling thru the dictionary in amazement, he began copying the first page “all the system down to the punctuation marks.” This took a day. Then he be taught the page attend to himself, over and all over all over again. He went on to copying down and studying out loud every page in the dictionary. He began studying books, many books. He joined the controversy membership. He turned Malcolm X.
Yesternight. Language is continually in flux, consistently altering, morphing, shifting. Phrases are added; words fall away. Phrases shift wherein means to believe the world: digitize outmoded to mean to govern with the fingers. However what about yesternight—this implies that closing evening—closing outmoded, per the Oxford English Dictionary in 1888? What modified into it that brought on yesternight to depart whereas the day outdated to this stayed in most cases employ?
Z. The letter z (in British English, zed) is the closing or twenty-sixth letter of the alphabet. So we are attend to the alphabet. So, how did we salvage this alphabet, this z?
Egyptian hieroglyphs had indicators, outmoded as phase of the hieroglyph, that stood for a consonant. Progressively Egyptian scribes diminished some of their writing to using consonants fully. One ticket for one sound. This did not supersede hieroglyphic writing but came about alongside it as early as 2000 BCE. Semitic trading partners and visitor workers in Egypt took this alphabetic belief attend to Canaan (Israel/Palestine) into their very salvage languages. The north Semitic Phoenicians, descendants of the Canaanites, outmoded a consonantal alphabet. Phoenicia modified into positioned in this day’s Syria, Lebanon, and northerly Israel. “All worn North Semitic scripts,” writes Fischer, “Phoenician, Canaanite, Aramaic—signify consonantal alphabets with fewer than 30 letters.” From Aramaic came each and every Hebrew and Arabic with their consonantal alphabets. The Greeks took the Phoenician alphabet, but Greek had many more vowel sounds and lacked some Phoenician sounds. The Greeks modified into vowels Phoenician consonants that had no corresponding Greek sounds. The Greeks done the alphabet each person is conscious of this day.
The z, though, is a straight borrowed north Semitic (Phoenician) consonant. As is our total twenty-six-letter alphabet. We now have a Semitic alphabet, which modified into modified by the worn Greeks.
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