The Alphabet Versus the Goddess

The Alphabet Versus the Goddess

The Conflict Between Word and Image

Book - 1998
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Baker & Taylor
Demonstrates how alphabetic literacy caused the development of the brain's left half over the right, which affected the role and power of women

Book News
Proposes, rather than argues closely, that the shift from apprehending the world from images to writing--especially alphabetic--contributed largely to the suppression of goddess worship and the decline in the status of women in society. Shlain is a neurosurgeon, and begins by explaining how reading and looking at pictures or listening to speech use different parts of the brain and indeed can influence the development of children's brains. Then, rejecting the linear, sequentialist, reductionist thinking he associates with both writing and masculine values, he offers a long series of essentially independent essays, each evoking an example of his thesis. They range from the first writing of the Egyptians and Mesopotamians through classical and medieval times to the Reformation and eventually the rise of television, with glances at China and Japan. Some of the material has appeared in The Utne Reader Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.

& Taylor

Forging provocative connections among many fields, the author of Art and Physics demonstrates how alphabetic literacy caused the development of the brain's left half over the right, which affected the role and power of women. Tour.

Publisher: New York : Viking, c1998
ISBN: 9780670878833
Characteristics: xiv, 464 p. : ill. ; 25 cm


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Feb 19, 2016

Amazing! I have been telling all my friends about this book!

Jan 14, 2016

This is a fascinating book, presenting the theory that [alphabetic] language shifts brains to left-lobe mode, which, Shalin assumes, is male dominant. So to be literate, to get out of the caves, we have to be patriarchial!? Grim if true. He writes well and is convincing.
I just wonder tho: if men are more left lobe dominant, and women right lobe, why have no researchers noticed this? I track this hemispheric specialization/lateralization and can assure you that even McGilchrist [see his magnum opus, The Master and His Emissary] is silent on this.
As much fun as this was, and as much as i'd like to believe him, i find other theories more plausible.
For example: the evolutionary theory that the preponderance of artists being male is no coincidence, nor evidence of female inferiority. It's the peacock tail theory: males evolve spectacular displays as tacit demonstration of fitness (look, i'm so powerful i can lug around this heavy tail and still escape predators- mate with me!). I can spend all my time picking my emotional nose, indulging my own fantasies, so you can be sure i'm an alpha.).
Then there's the agriculture theory- when resources were scarce as hunter-gatherers we were all more or less equal, but when we started growing crops, we had surpluses, that had to be guarded by bigger stronger men that then elbowed aside women.
My bet is a mix of these last two, with maybe a dash of Shalin's theory.

Feb 04, 2015

It presents a paradigm-changing idea about the patriarchy and implications for some current trends in media.


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