Thursday, 16 June 2016
Religion and Cultural Memory (tr. Rodney Livingstone),
Jan Assmann, Stanford University Press, 2006, page ixdnl
Jan Assmann, in the preface of this collection of ten essays about Cultural Memory, makes a clear distinction between language and text.
Language is dialogue, exchange of views, communication. Text, on the other hand, is constituted on the basis of prior communication. It always involves the past. Memory bridges the gap between then and now.
But how do 'texts' appear? Do people just write things, anything, down?
The messenger memorises the message that he is supposed to convey to the recipient; the old man remembers what he was taught by his grandfather and passes it on to his grandson, enriched by his own experience. In this way 'texts' come into being. Linguistic communication takes place in the context of conversation; texts, hoever, arise in the 'extended context' of tradition.