Palimpsest: A History of the Written Word

THU, AUG 6, 2015 (53:05)

Matthew Battles discusses his latest book, Palimpsest: A History of the Written Word—an eloquent meditation on the history of writing, from Mesopotamia to multimedia.

Why does writing exist? What does it mean to those who write? Born from the interplay of natural and cultural history, the seemingly magical act of writing has continually expanded our consciousness. Portrayed in mythology as either a gift from heroes or a curse from the gods, it has been used as both an instrument of power and a channel of the divine; a means of social bonding and of individual self-definition. Now, as the revolution once wrought by the printed word gives way to the digital age, many fear that the art of writing, and the nuanced thinking nurtured by writing, are under threat. But writing itself, despite striving for permanence, is always in the midst of growth and transfiguration.

(Image: Georgian paliphsest V-VI, wikimedia)

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