The influence of McLuhan is pervasive in the approach Sven Birkerts takes to writing via electronic means. (“Hypertext: Of Mouse and Man” The Gutenberg Elegies)
Yet now it is computers, in one sense the very apotheosis of applied rationality, that are destabilizing the authority of the printed word and returning us, although at a different part of the spiral, to the process orientation that characterized oral cultures.
Not at all clear as to how a “process orientation” is incompatible with authority structures.
There is authority at play in oral cultures.
See Lesson Module 1.1C “Oral Tradition” in the Open School British Columbia resources for B.C. FIRST NATIONS STUDIES 12
In some cultures, the storyteller is the keeper of the story. In other words, certain individuals own the right to tell that story (a kind of oral copyright); only the individual who owns the right to the story can choose to whom he or she will tell it; and only the person who owns the story can give permission to someone else to re-tell it.
More on permissions …
Kaylynn TwoTrees (1997), a Lakota storyteller, taught me elements of living story. “What is the Lakota penalty for changing a story, telling a story wrong or without permission?” I asked. “It is death,” TwoTrees replied, “because the story in an oral culture is the entire living history of the community.” She stresses three aspects: First, living stories not only have relativistic temporality (i.e., bridging past and present), there are times when a story can be told (e.g., seasons). Second, living stories have a place, and places have their own story to tell. Finally, living stories have owners, and one needs permission to tell another’s story of a time or a place. This is similar to what the Navaho say about story—living embodiments of Navaho reality, living dramas, language that creates reality, not the reverse (Toelken, 1996). Not getting the story straight has its consequences; stories that were told badly by Toelken, and perhaps without permission, in the wrong place and time, were affecting his “mental and physical imbalance” (p. 55). There is a crucial point here, the idea that story is more than interpretation, and a living story transforms the “real.”
David M. Boje “From Wilda to Disney: Living Stories in Family and Organization Research” in Handbook of Narrative Inquiry: Mapping a Methodology edited by D. Jean Clandin
TwoTrees, Kaylynn. (1997). Stories with mind. Session presented at the April, 1997, International Academy of Business Disciplines conference, Postmodern Organization Theory Track.
Toelken, Barre. (1996). “The icebergs of folktale: Misconception, misuse, abuse”. In C. L. Birch & M. A. Heckler (Eds.), Who says? Essays on pivotal issues in contemporary storytelling (pp. 35–63). Little Rock, AR: August House.
Birkets was trying to link technologies of writing to degrees of versioning and thence to construction of the position of the author. Be it computer, pen or voice, the argument for technological determination doesn’t hold because there are social practices at work.
And so for day 1716