November 27, 2022
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Opinion: The place of technology in literature

 

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The great philosopher Socrates tells a story about the invention of writing in Plato’s Phaedrus.

The philosopher’s account follows how the Egyptian god Thoth shows his written characters to another god, Ammon, who rebukes him: “This discovery of yours will create forgetfulness in the learners’ souls, because they will not use their memories; they will trust to the external written characters and not remember themselves.”

As adversarial as this opinion of Ammon appears, the assertion is quite infallible to some extent.

Consider, say, the Dark Ages—which is known thus due to the minimal advancement in scientific discovery and cultural development during the period—when religious superstition was widespread and thrived the most, one may argue that it was because of the lack of mental enlightenment that people were easily swayed.

However, that may not be the case. At least, not entirely. This is because of the institutionalization of the philosophy of religion in contrast with the advocacy of cultural and scientific advancement earlier pioneered by the Romans and Greeks.

This goes to show how important it is to mechanize aspects of acquiring knowledge. It leads to standardization.

Fast forward to the 21st century, the age of information overload, literature could be found almost everywhere and across different media. Literature as any body of well-written and documented works for long-lasting artistic merit, intertwined with language and history, provides the bedrock for many other learning endeavours.

Also, documentation is very important and is instrumental to literature which is in turn pertinent to history and language.

As a matter of fact, it is the reason upon which the earliest literature was created. Artefacts, literary documents, artefacts, archaeological sites, features, oral transmissions, stone inscriptions, paintings, recorded sounds, images, oral history, you name it.

These documents provide a strong footing for literature to thrive.

Literature is incomplete without language as a medium of communication, whether oral, written or presentation as a performance.

With verified documentations of ancient Egyptians writing the first equation, Greeks making crucial advancements which shapes modern geometry, Indians broadening the understanding of the concept of zero not only as an entity but also as a written digit in the decimal place value notation, and negative numbers appearing for the first time in history in the Nine Chapters on the Mathematical Art by the ancient Chinese, modern trends in technology about literature has now, more than ever, been essential.

Moreso, it is the language that enhances communication, whether mathematical, legal, scientific or medical communication, among others.

Now technology has made not just language and literature, but also documentation more accessible.

If at one point in your life, you have lost an opportunity due to the inability to interpret a body of literature in the right context or you have felt frustrated because you could not render help to your dear ones as a result of the inability to speak a particular language, then you will realize how much modern trends in technology are needed to the rendition of literature.

Earlier this month, the 2022 Nobel Prize in Literature was awarded to the first French woman to win the prize, Annie Ernaux “for the courage and clinical acuity with which she uncovers the roots, estrangements and collective restraints of personal memory.”

Her achievement beghasted French president Emmanuel Macron who took to Twitter to praise Ernaux: “[…]

Her voice is the voice of the freedom of women and forgotten figures of the century.” This, too, is a testament to how literature concerns itself with history.

French Ministry of Culture also said of her work: “delicate and dense writing that revolutionised literature” and “crowning of an intimate work that carries the life of others.”

Truly, what is literature if not carrying the life of others?

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