Plato sez that those who use writing to represent their thoughts will:

cease to exercise their memory and become forgetful; they will rely on writing to bring things to their remembrance by external signs instead of their own internal resources. What you have discovered [in writing] is a receipt for recollection, not for memory. (Phaedrus; 275)

A receipt. Apart from recalling the mug of the tax woman in Life, which says ‘you are what you receipt,’ this seems to me to evoke an intriguing kind of exchange relation, a giving over of thought to the ether, marked only by the receipt of the writing. Upon presentation of this receipt, you may be given what was, apparently, already purely yours back to you. Memory is thus presented as authentic, self-sufficient and almost a way of investing the thought within oneself rather than in an elsewhere place. The self-contained subject must not permit thought to pass to elsewhere, and certainly must not allow the thought to circulate to another, much less another inanimate object—pen, paper, ink upon page, pixels on screen—before returning for it will never be the sameand nor will you.

Never let there be another to show you who you are, to let you be who you are; heaven forbid. And if there is such another, destroy him, destroy her, burn the paper, smash the liquid crystal, until there is nothing but you left, you and a lonely, isolated knowledge. As if no other form of relation were ever possible…!

Advertisements