The field of English literature shows us that the written word is not obsolete, although the techne may be changing. By techne I refer to the techniques and tools that constitute the act of writing. For instance, I remember writing papers by hand in elementary and even middle school, something that that age group today probably does not do. Do they even teach kids how to write in cursive anymore, or do they skip straight to teaching them how to type? Typing is, in fact, the second language of literature. It was the invention of the printing press that allowed authors to turn writing into a career, rather than just a personal pastime. And with the invention of the computer, writers can share their work in multiple forums: Kindles, e-books, and blogs are all forms through which literature is passed around today.
What would Homer think of literature today? Would he chastise today’s authors for their reliance on print to share their stories? Would he shun the computer and keyboard for taking the author one step further away from his or her work? I think that more than any other discipline, literature has undergone the greatest paradigm shift in terms of the techne used to create and interpret it. Writers used to have that feeling of a pen in hand. They could feel that ink drag across a piece of paper. Mistakes were noticeable at least, costly at most, until the invention of “Backspace.” Now all you need to know is how to tap on some plastic buttons on a keyboard and, TADA, you’re a writer.
What happened to feeling the pages between your fingers, or the smell of a book that’s been read, shared, and cherished? Does the way we “write” today (using a keyboard instead of paper and ink) diminish the value of writing? Absolutely not. To me, words sound just as sweet from a printed, typewritten page as they do from a handwritten 8 x 11 sheet of letter paper.
“O, be some other name! What’s in a name? that which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet…” Beautiful words are beautiful words are b-e-a-utiful words, no matter where they come from.