Tuesday, 7 June 2016
Memory and Identity in Ancient Judaism and Early Christianity,
Tom Thatcher ed., SBL, 2014, page 175
Keith now points to what he considers the more important aspect of Jan Assmann's work: 'zerdehnte Situation', which explains how a manuscript aids the tranaformation of collective or individual memory into cultural memory.
For Assmann, the categorical distinction between oral tradition and written tradition is that writing does not demand the "co-presence" of the transmitter of the tradition and the audience that ritual and festival require: "What is decisive for the genesis of texts is the separation from the immediate speech situation".
Although a messenger can bring words that are separated from the original speech act, this is only a restricted form of separation that a written text permanent,y exceeds, if for no other reason than that the delivery of a message requires the presence - standing as a proxy for the original speaker - of the messenger. A written form also allows unlimited and identical perfomances. As Assmann points out:
To reconnect with the meaning of written cultural texts, you do not have to wait for the next performance, you just have to read them."