Non binary

Orality is fluid; so are we.

Last week I introduced Walter J. Ong and my first comparison with his characteristics of oral cultures. The power in the choice of a pronoun.

And this leads me to a perception of what could be a characteristic of a literate culture

Binary thought

McLuhan, Postman, Ong, and I’m sure others, have looked at the ecology of the written word and quickly seen its influence on our logical nature. It’s not a far leap to see how literacy and math, science, law progressed together.

Yet in this ability, is a simple mental foundation. Until recently our technological mountain has been composed of this smallest foundation. True (1) and false (0). On (1) and off(0). Is (1) and isn’t (0).

After all – a word is or isn’t printed on a page. It is or isn’t in paragraph 3 subsection 4. It was or was not successfully reproduced. 1+1 is or is not 2.

We tend to think lately that our capacity and attention has whittled down to almost nothing. It might be true. Postman, in Amusing Ourselves to Death shows us the legal & political celebrity & prowess in the early days of the United States; their once staggering high literacy rates combined with the public’s ability to keep up with and even enjoy hours of complex debate & deliberation.

On the flip side of literacy, I recently read Cultural Development: It’s Cultural and Social Foundations by A.R. Luria, a fascinating opportunity to collect insight into a changing subculture as it transitions into literacy. And it shows cracks in human thought, that with Oral cultures, the fundamentals of logic changes. It’s not that there isn’t any, it’s just not the same.

Inference goes out the door.
Reasoning becomes cluttered with complexity.
Perception itself becomes void of classification.

Perhaps it’s not so Binary. Perhaps how we categorize, or logically organize our world is up for review.

And how interesting that now, as we delve into quantum computing we are opening our thoughts to “maybe”, “maybe not” and “maybe both.”

The diversity of a Roman

I think this picture is amazing. Look at it with me. A designer used AI and photoshop to give details back to the busts of Roman emperors

What I think is relevant to binary thought – are any preconceived notions of a Roman.

If our category, inference, definition, and judgment are based on a literate characteristic of binary thought, how we are trying to define life or imagine history might be as well.

Photo credit: Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

Originally posted on Substack