Episode 206 - The Gutenberg Revolutions

10/29/201116 Comments

The Gutenberg press was the catalyst for the Renaissance and the Reformation, but it shaped what we communicated as much as how we communicated. What, then, to make of the electronic global village of our modern Gutenberg revolution? Are we on the cusp of a new Renaissance, or will this technology only further degrade a culture already in decline? The promise of the Internet: Library of Alexandria or Library of Babel?

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Corbett Report Radio on Republic Broadcasting
Time Reference: 00:53
Link To: republicbroadcasting.org
Subscribe to The Corbett Report
Time Reference: 03:07
Link To: corbettreport.com
Ancient Mysteries - The Lost Treasure of the Alexandria Library
Time Reference: 03:51
Link To: youtube.com
Gutenberg Press
Time Reference: 08:27
Link To: youtube.com
Clay Shirky on the Accident of the Printing Press
Time Reference: 18:43
Link To: youtube.com
Marshall Mcluhan Full lecture: The medium is the message - 1977
Time Reference: 25:47
Link To: youtube.com
Peace Revolution Episode 025
Time Reference: 32:24
Link To: peacerevolution.org
Amusing Ourselves to Death
Time Reference: 32:53
Link To: wikipedia.org
Teenagers ‘only use 800 different words a day’
Time Reference: 45:48
Link To: blacklistednews.com
The Library of Babel by Jorge Luis Borges (reading and podcast)
Time Reference: 49:51
Link To: corbettreport.com
Prometeus - The Media Revolution
Time Reference: 51:14
Link To: casaleggio.it

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Comments (16)

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  1. mkey says:

    The definition of “reading” blew my mind. I never even considered a thought on that line.


  2. n2abstract says:

    Wow! I have to admit I’m in a head spin so often here at “thecorbettreport”. The breadth of topics on philosophy! There is so much out there to learn, imagine all of it in attempts to define what it is to be human.

    I love it! Keep it coming James. We all need to learn to become critical thinkers!

  3. HomeRemedySupply says:

    mkey, n2abstract, et al,
    Ditto here.

  4. beadbud5000 says:

    I watch this pod cast video today. Really excellent! I hadnot thought about communications in this way relative to the internet! Excellent job!


  5. nosoapradio says:

    When I was little I read a science fiction book for children that marked me forever, I’ve already mentioned it here I believe, …

    It was called “A Wrinkle in Time”…

    And the major Vilain was a horrific pulsing brain, the central intelligence center… it was called “IT”…in capital letters…and it controlled the population of an entire planet…

    IT enslaved you through your dreams…what you dreamt of being, doing, what you profoundly wanted…

    This book was first published in 1963…

    I only realized what the author was literally referring to about 10 years ago…

    Madeleine l’Engle was referring to Information Technology…

    in 1963…

    Beware of what you wish for… Or rather how you seek to obtain it… in some “second life”…

    (and that was my running-out-the-door comment for the day…)

    • Pablo de Boer says:

      Hola aloha amigo/a nosoapradio,

      Interesting event you experienced when you were young. I learned in South America from the indigenous fellow humans, that coincidence always has un significado / a meaning and each coincidence is very valuable.

      And talking about information technology, thanks to the internet + my free will I’m able to explore señor James webpage and other alt media. We humans also can be aware of the lies made by the globkaki with or without technology. And we always can deactivate useless technology made by the globkaki.

      Deactivating Hal 9000 HD (COMPLETE)

      Saludos y abrazos,


  6. danmanultra says:

    Very, very thought provoking. I especially appreciate the words on “time” and how the concept of it has become so severely altered in our modern age. I will need to get an audio book of that work I think.

  7. HomeRemedySupply says:

    It is interesting to note that in this era many young adults can not read nor write in cursive. The school system has chosen to teach keyboarding rather than cursive penmanship.

  8. Richard Ran says:

    Hi James,

    At (about) 45:45, you introduce an intriguing clip “Prometheus”. Here’s some background about the people who made it. They work for a new media consultancy firm based in Italy, called Casaleggio Associati.

    This is their site (English version): https://www.casaleggio.it/en/

    Not all that interesting at first glance, I must say. They made another clip about “The future of politics”, called “Gaia” (keyword for a red(dish) flag?), an interesting take on the power of the internet. A telling quote [02:25]:

    “Before the net, communication [..] belonged to the power [Bilderberg et al.]. With the net, they belong to all the people.”

    Right after this, the first example given to illustrate this new “power to ze people”-thing, is about the 1998 MoveOn mass democratic action to support.. Bill Clinton. Ouch.
    After ten years (the clip dates from 2008), the net apparently had nothing of import to say on the Clinton crime family, at least not according to the makers of this Gaia clip.

    Kind regs from Amsterdam,

  9. HomeRemedySupply says:

    ANECDOTE Flameworking Glass Sculptures
    As the 1980’s were wrapping up, I decided that I wanted to make some glass roses. Part of that decision involved some business ideas.

    So, I went to the mammoth downtown Dallas library to dig up how to do it. I tried trade magazines, books, etc. trying to learn the tech involved. I could only find pieces of information, but not a complete guide.

    I visited some local glass flameworkers in the artistic malls. One guy said he would teach me for $10,000. Of course, I declined.

    It took a long while of repeated researching to not only figure out the tech, but also to find the local sources of glass and supplies. At last, I was ready. Fortunately, I had an understanding wife, because we lived in a 2 bedroom apartment.

    So, for 20 bucks I buy an army surplus metal table. I go to different suppliers to get the rest of my equipment and glass. Into this apartment, (at night) I bring in my oxygen and propane tanks and welding type nozzles, along with a kiln which could approach about 2500 degress F.

    At night, you could hear the wild hiss of the torch and see the faint pattern of flickering light through the open window but with closed blinds. It took some practice, but eventually I made a bunch of beautiful glass roses. And they looked like long stem roses, not a “rendition done modern-art style”.

    I sure could have saved lots of time on my research if the internet was available during this period.

    (2 minute video on Glass Flameworking)(Note: Those are special lens glasses which allow you to see the glass during torchwork.)

    • nosoapradio says:

      Flameworking roses…in a two-bedroom apartment…thanks to an understanding wife…

      Did you know Colombo’s wife’s name is Rose. And yours is becoming as legendary as that other ever present, ever unseen Rose…

      I wonder if these Roses are fragile? and

      do you chew on cheap cigars?


      • HomeRemedySupply says:

        ha! I am laughing. Your way of expression is fun.

        I loved Columbo.

        (The glass roses are fragile…especially thin parts like the leaves and stems. Gave away the last of them a few months ago. Kept some broken pieces for decoration in the garden/rock area.)

        No cheap cigars, but “Kentucky Select Pipe Tobacco” used in my “Top-O-Matic Cigarette Rolling Machine” with “Zen” cigarette tubes. While watching a Corbett video, I often roll. (No tobacco surtaxes like a pack of Marlboro has.)
        “Kentucky Select” used to have labeled “organic” tobacco. Some regulations a few years back killed that term.

  10. nansemomish says:

    Thinking about smoke signals and literacy. I live in the northwest US, not the climate or topography for smoke signals, but perfect for the deep notes of drums with thick hides. If someone from one of the longhouses I frequent heard these far reaching sounds, they would know the song, the linked category to which it belongs, the gift associated with it, the powers. They would know where the spirit of the song lives, the stories to which it is associated. They would even know what food it likes and its color. They would know who has the right to sing the song, and the reason of the right. All this would tell the listener what to do, what ceremonial gear to take and where to go. In the dense reverberation of this language, this medium, they would know what had arrived.

  11. john.o says:

    Riffing on all this I see a new technology in at least 3 ways, as medium, as product and as metaphor.

    I am old enough to have lived in the metaphor of The Book. It “literally” was a different world and is now gone forever. I don’t, of course, recall the era when the book was a Scroll, which is somewhat different, but…

    Few now speak of an unguarded person as an “open book,” or say “I read him like a book.” I do occasionally hear, “my life entered a new chapter,” but mostly used by people (usually women) who still read novels. Others might say, this is Me_2.0 or something like that.

    In Churches, the “Book of Life” is mentioned but many ignore biblical religion, of course, and I suspect young people who don’t will need the full sense “Book” explained to them in the same way that they need many of the pastoral metaphors of the Bible explained, or that I needed the “Scroll” explained to me.

    In fact, I know they will need “Book” explained, because it is obvious to me that my younger friends simply can have no idea of what a book once was in a life. Of course some people still have experiences with printed books, but everyone knows now that they are mere expressions of a digital copy elsewhere. Throw one away and you have it reprinted and shipped in days, if not available to read online in minutes. A book was once, the book itself, a final repository of knowledge, not a mere expression of it.

    Double-click on this: We are just not programmed for books anymore. Probably our DNA gives us more or less the same operating systems as our predecessors, but we run different software now, and some of the older ways haven’t crossed the digital divide, metaphorically speaking.

    William Blake (ignore him at your own risk) used the metaphor of The Book in books he created using a technique (no type, but pressed from engraved plates). As a poet, he knew very well that the Printing Press was both technically and metaphorically and poetically related to the Wine Press – and the Rack and the Screws of the inquisition.

    Nothing was ever perfect, that’s for sure…

    But changing technology changes metaphor and the current ruling metaphor is a very virulent and dangerous one IMO. (“Person = Hardware + Software = I. Thus I am the “I” in “AI” and the only difference is it’s artificial. I am not, but our intelligence is the same.)

    (By the way, just as reading is LEGENDA, “choosing,” so intelligence is “INTER-LEGERE” – the ability to read between, pick out the important things and make sense of them.)

    I do not recall any child being taught that they are were “really” just a book, but many now ARE taught that they are “really” just a complex machine driven by a very powerful computer. (That scientistic “really” deserves a post of its own.)

    Language about inner experience is impossible without metaphor. The word “inner” is a spatial metaphor for an aspect of experience, but “aspect”(view) is just another metaphor.

    Make the simplest observation about yourself and you will use metaphor inevitably. Representing our “minds” as computers is to use for our very selves a metaphor that does not itself use, understand or contain metaphors. And saying that the metaphor is what we “really” are is the final coup de grace.

    I am not saying everything was hunky dory living in the old metaphors and in fact, I have, like millions of others, experienced new capacities in myself by using the new metaphors.) But remember this too: Understanding of metaphor begins to disappear in many forms of autism. It is completely gone in any artificial intelligence. Ones and zeros don’t do metaphor.

    Also very important: Metaphor is used to control, but if you want people to remain controlled, never teach them about the power of examining dominant metaphors in their lives.

    I assure you that what I am saying here is profound and worth contemplating, if you have the time and the processing power.

    (Those who don’t get metaphor, won’t get irony either.)

    • nosoapradio says:

      “…Make the simplest observation about yourself and you will use metaphor inevitably. Representing our “minds” as computers is to use for our very selves a metaphor that does not itself use, understand or contain metaphors. And saying that the metaphor is what we “really” are is the final coup de grace…”

      You’ve put your finger on what is truly frightening about today’s society… A machine requires no respect, dignity, privacy… and today’s world of instantaneous images leaves very little place for either metaphor or inter legere…

      A self-fulfilling prophecy, we’re being tricked into surrendering our souls, preferring the impression of savouring steak, to the actual experience…

      Though I don’t really master his notions, I was going to evoke Baudrillard before reading your post… and actually, it would seem that we’ve come to prefer the empty reflected image of ourselves to the fallible, imperfect, substantial reality… Trapped in the cultural maze of mirrors we’ve constructed of ouselves we’re transforming ourselves into glossy icons and the price is our very humanity… ?

  12. steven says:

    Here, with a heightened consciousness of our past and a clearer insight into decisions made long ago, which often seem to control us, we shall be able to face the immediate decisions that now confronts man and will, one way or another, ultimately transform him: namely, whether he shall devote himself to the development of his own deepest humanity, or whether he shall surrender himself to the now almost automatic forces he himself has set into motion and yield place to his dehumanized alter ego, Post-historic Man’. That second choice will bring with it a progressive loss of feeling, emotion, creative audacity, and finally consciousness. (Lewis Mumford, The City in History. First published in 1961).

    Mumford was briefly mentioned in this podcast and I think that his work is worth mentioning not only because it encapsulates the notion of the medium is the message but also because it traces the very origins of the development of human consciousness and tell us through the most beautiful use of metaphor how we got to where we are. The societal forces that have been brought light by Corbett Report were predicted by Mumford with amazing accuracy decades ago.
    Not only does the medium mould the message, but the technologies we invent, the systems and institutions we create for ourselves and the systems and institutions we submit to form the basis not only of our freedoms but also of our enslavement. The word and the city are the two great purveyors of culture and culture is the accelerator of evolution. With the institution of Kingship came the city, part and parcel with the domination of the many by the few and with it the first great invention: the machine, the components of which as Mumford explains, was made up of human bodies.

    Like the internet, the city was the incubator of ideas, the pressure cooker of civilisation, the place where love could be expressed through art. The double-edged sword of ‘civilisation’ where both good and evil fought tooth and nail found its first great battlefield in the city and possibly ends in cyberspace were distance no longer matters and time moves at the speed of light.

    Mumford dedicated his life to steer humanity toward self-understanding and it seems that you, James, are working for the same ideals. If you haven’t read Mumford, now is the time to start. Perhaps it’s time for all of us to go on that fascinating voyage into our collective ancient past and come out of that great adventure into a brighter future, dismantling the myth of the machine, inventing a plethora of organic processes united by common values, fearless in the face of those who would accuse us of making value judgments and not holding the politically correct line.

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