- The beginnings of political power – which appear to be connected to the last few of the great technological revolutions, such as the forging of iron, at the threshold of an era which then will see no more profound upheavals until the appearance of industrial manufacturing – are equally the moment when the bonds of consanguinity start to dissolve. From this time on, the cycle of succeeding generations ceases to be a cycle, pure and simple, and becomes a succession of unidirectional events: one succession of power after another. Irreversible time is the time of whoever is in power, and dynasties are its measure. And writing is its weapon.
- With the advent of writing, language becomes a fully independent reality, that is no longer a direct mediation between consciousnesses. But this independence is one and the same as the overall, generalised independence of separated power, which now becomes the system of mediation that constitutes society. With writing, there appears a consciousness which is no longer presented and transmitted in the context of an immediate relationship of living beings. It is an impersonal memory, an artefact of the administration of society. “Writing is the thoughts of the State. Archives are its memory.” (Novalis)
* – * – *
And this is why direct transmission, consciousness to consciousness – isshin denshin – without the use of words – is so important. The wisdom that is so transmitted is entirely beyond the perception of the State…or of any kind of power.
And it opens windows that communicate with other energies: kotodama, mudra, mantra, dharani, tai ch’i…
And this is what changing your point of conception is about…
And the very earliest writings that have come down to us, they, too are not on-the-surface articulate… not discursive or definitive in nature. They, too, are intended for making contact with the universe: oracles, inventories of syllables, petroglyphs, markings on the walls of caves… and often they are written to be destroyed or changed: written over (like kuji-ho), modified, cracked in the fire… so we have to imagine: what are the writings that have n o t come down to us? How old is the idea of prayer flags, “wind-horses” dissolving in the wind?
Surely, the earliest Egyptian hieroglyphs, with all their birds and animals: a picture of the marshes of the Nile, and a sound picture as well (many of the birds and animals stand for the sound of their cry)… surely, something like this would have been first written on an impermanent medium, as transitory as the growing season of the river itself.
And there is even an echo of this in the ceramic boxes, in which the women who were doorkeepers of Shakespeare’s theatre (they doubled as the wardrobe crew) collected the offerings (a hundred years before, they would have been donations: at mystery plays by the sacred springs in the hills outside London) made by the patrons as they entered the magical space of the theatre, for all the world a wooden castle in what was left of the fields… and then the boxes were taken backstage to be broken. After the play, one would imagine.