Episode 18: Sascha Engel on “Breaking the Alphabet”
In this episode, Mike Gathers chats with Sascha Engel about the themes of his book, Breaking the Alphabet and the tyranny of the written word.
• “Breaking the Alphabet:” https://littleblackcart.com/index.php?dispatch=products.view&product_id=870
• Keep an eye out for a forthcoming release from Little Black Cart Sascha’s website: http://thinkcontinuum.eu/
• To contact Sascha directly: firstname.lastname@example.org
• Sign up for Sascha’s newsletter: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSeLa1epZL4uGkjXGQfBCLYv-M_I3SMtJ3hhy5oKzCQmIwul_g/viewform
We are ruled even more, and even less consciously, by the inventors of the wheel, the plow, the alphabet, even the Roman roads.
– Robert Anton Wilson, Prometheus Rising
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A monopoly on the means of communication may define a ruling elite more precisely than the celebrated Marxian formula of “monopoly in the means of production.” Since humans extend their nervous systems though channels of communication like the written word, the telephone, radio, TV, Internet, etc., whoever controls these media controls part of the nervous system of every member of society. The contents of these media become part of the contents of every individual’s brain.
Thus, in preliterate societies, taboos on spoken word are more numerous and more Draconic than at any more complex level of social organization.
With the invention of written speech — hieroglyphic, ideographic, or alphabetical — the taboos are shifted to this medium; there is less concern with what people say and more concern with what people write. (Some of the first societies to achieve literacy, such as Egypt and the Mayan culture of ancient Mexico, evidently kept a knowledge of hieroglyphs a religious secret which only the higher orders of the priestly and royal families were allowed to share.)
– Robert Anton Wilson, Email to the Universe
I loved this episode! I really dig Sacha’s explanation of attention beyond and linguistic vernacular. What came up for me was Antero Alli’s “second attention” and the magical alphabets of Chaos Magicians. These require intimate connection and can’t realistically be transmitted through multiple generations or gene pools. Political authority and touch them, and if used right they can undermine arbitrary authority.