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Does Writing Have a Future?$
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Vilém Flusser

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780816670222

Published to Minnesota Scholarship Online: August 2015

DOI: 10.5749/minnesota/9780816670222.001.0001

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(p.17) Notation
Does Writing Have a Future?

Vilém Flusser

Mark Poster

Nancy Ann Roth

University of Minnesota Press

This chapter explains how notation differs from inscription and what it means when we write something down. Whether written signs are engraved into objects or carried on the surfaces of objects is solely a question of technology. There is a complex feedback loop between technology and the people who use it. A changing consciousness calls for a changing technology, and a changing technology changes consciousness. Producing tools out of bronze rather than stone both expressed a changing consciousness and opened on to a new form of consciousness. One can justly speak of a Stone Age people and a Bronze Age people—or of a people that write in material and a people that write on it. The most striking technical difference between the two writing methods is this: a stylus is used for inscription, a brush (or one of the brush’s successors) for writing things down. People brushed rather than chiseled to be able to write faster and more easily. The speed of writing is the basic difference between writing-in and writing-down. Inscriptions are monuments, notes are documents.

Keywords:   notation, inscription, written signs, technology, consciousness, writing, stylus, brush, monuments, documents

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