The Alphabet Versus the Goddess

The Alphabet Versus the Goddess

The Conflict Between Word and Image

Book - 1999
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This groundbreaking book proposes that the rise of alphabetic literacy reconfigured the human brain and brought about profound changes in history, religion, and gender relations. Making remarkable connections across brain function, myth, and anthropology, Dr. Shlain shows why pre-literate cultures were principally informed by holistic, right-brain modes that venerated the Goddess, images, and feminine values. Writing drove cultures toward linear left-brain thinking and this shift upset the balance between men and women, initiating the decline of the feminine and ushering in patriarchal rule. Examining the cultures of the Israelites, Greeks, Christians, and Muslims, Shlain reinterprets ancient myths and parables in light of his theory. Provocative and inspiring, this book is a paradigm-shattering work that will transform your view of history and the mind.
Publisher: New York : Penguin/Compass, 1999
Characteristics: xiv, 464 pages : illustrations ; 22 cm
Copyright Date: ©1998
ISBN: 9780140196016 (trade pbk.)
0140196013 (trade pbk.)
Call Number: 302.2244 SHLAIN


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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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