David Abram wrote an essay Animism and the Alphabet, which is about how alphabets have affected human society. He talks about how alphabets have worked as a differentiation between human and nature. Socrates and Plato are used as his supporting points. I made annotations as I read this piece, and there are two lines that captured my interest. They are annotations on “ Without writing, knowledge of the diverse properties of particular animals, plants and places can be preserved only by being woven into stories…events and interactions.” (Abram, 47) and “For reading, as soon as we attend to its sensorial texture, discloses itself as a profoundly synesthetic encounter.” (51)
First of all, the quote about a versatile writing system was interesting to me, because at first I did not agree on this idea. I thought taking picture could also preserve the data. However, I soon realized that the information we can retain would be very limited with pictures. Also, observing the real piece of the subjects would be better than looking at the picture. For example, the textbooks, which give knowledge, are written in alphabets and some pictures to help readers’ understanding.
Although, learning characteristics of animals, such as a story of cicadas in the Phaedrus written by Plato but recounted by Socrates, or other materials and information through stories sounds fun to me, it would take much longer time to catch ideas than just reading the straightforwardly written information. Information is subject to replace at anytime if the future generation finds the error or additional data. If the information were written, then it can be just simply erased and replaced with the corrected one. Thus, it is the simplest and easiest way to store the reports.
Second, the topic of synesthetic was also interesting. As we fall into the reading we draw pictures in our mind and slowly all of our senses activate with the reading. I have experienced this when I was reading And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie. I usually experience this when I read mysterious or thriller novels or journals such as The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank. These books are very descriptive in each scene making readers to easily picture the situations in their minds.
It makes easier for me to peruse the book and keep interested, making me to want to turn to the next page to see what happens next. It was also interesting that as Abram discuss about synesthesia, he used pronoun “I” a lot. For example, on page 52, he wrote about his experience of feeling empathy by watching a stranger learning to ride a bicycle. By giving his own experience, he makes me to think of my own experience too and connect mine with his and read it with affinity.
This is what I thought and felt as I read Animism and the Alphabet by David Abram. Although I was confused when he said that the writing was influenced by animals’ behavior of leaving their tracks, as I read more, I understood his idea and thought it was interesting. The most interesting parts were how he thinks of writing system and his use of pronoun “I” and synesthesia.