The Alphabet Versus the Goddess: The Conflict Between Word and Image by Leonard ShlainThis groundbreaking book proposes that the rise of alphabetic literacy reconfigured the human brain and brought about profound changes in history, religion, and gender relations. Making remarkable connections across brain function, myth, and anthropology, Dr. Shlain shows why pre-literate cultures were principally informed by holistic, right-brain modes that venerated the Goddess, images, and feminine values. Writing drove cultures toward linear left-brain thinking and this shift upset the balance between men and women, initiating the decline of the feminine and ushering in patriarchal rule. Examining the cultures of the Israelites, Greeks, Christians, and Muslims, Shlain reinterprets ancient myths and parables in light of his theory. Provocative and inspiring, this book is a paradigm-shattering work that will transform your view of history and the mind.
Thank you! Continually engaging, although on the whole quite woolly, this monumentally ambitious tome treats all history as one great struggle between the verbal and the visual. The Hebrew patriarchs, Buddha, and Confucius; Luther, Marx, and Hitler: all of these historical figures share both writerly wordiness and male chauvinism. Shlain declares again and again that there is something inherently anti-female in the written word that attracts men who traffic in ethereal abstractions of the mind. As literacy spread, Shlain claims, so did patriarchy.
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Making remarkable connections across a wide range of subjects including brain function, anthropology, history, and religion, Shlain argues that literacy reinforced the brain's linear, abstract, predominantly masculine left hemisphere at the expense of the holistic, iconic feminine right one. This shift upset the balance between men and women initiating the disappearance of goddesses, the abhorrence of images, and, in literacy's early stages, the decline of women's political status. Patriarchy and misogyny followed. Shlain contrasts the feminine right-brained oral teachings of Socrates, Buddha, and Jesus with the masculine creeds that evolved when their spoken words were committed to writing. The first book written in an alphabet was the Old Testament and its most important passage was the Ten Commandments. The first two reject of any goddess influence and ban any form of representative art. The love of Mary, Chivalry, and courtly love arose during the illiterate Dark Ages and plummeted after the invention of the printing press in the Renaissance.
A brief history of gender dynamics from page to screen.
The Rosetta Stone may be one of the diagrams that changed the world and language may have propelled our evolution , but the invention of the written word was not without its costs. A major culprit in the shift, Shlain argues, was the invention of the alphabet. He takes great care to avoid the trap of correlation vs. Of all the sacred cows allowed to roam unimpeded in our culture, few are as revered as literacy. Its benefits have been so incontestable that in the five millennia since the advent of the written word numerous poets and writers have extolled its virtues. Few paused to consider its costs. One pernicious effect of literacy has gone largely unnoticed: writing subliminally fosters a patriarchal outlook.