|Excerpt from The Gutenberg Galaxy:|
It would be ... startling were the ordinary reader about native societies not able to vibrate with a deep sense of affinity for the same, since our new electric culture provides our lives again with a tribal base. There is available the lyrical testimony of a very Romantic biologist, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, in his Phenomenon of Man (p.240):
Now, to the degree that—under the effect of this pressure and thanks to their psychic permeability—the human elements infiltrated more and more into each other, their minds (mysterious coincidence) were mutually stimulated by proximity. And as though dilated upon themselves, they each extended little by little the radius of their influence upon this earth which, by the same token, shrank steadily. What, in fact, do we see happening in the modern paroxysm? It has been stated over and over again. Through the discovery yesterday of the railway, the motor car and the aeroplane, the physical influence of each man, formerly restricted to a few miles, now extends to hundreds of leagues or more. Better still: thanks to the prodigious biological event represented by the discovery of electro-magnetic waves, each individual finds himself henceforth (actively and passively) simultaneously present, over land and sea, in every corner of the earth. People of literary and critical bias find the shrill vehemence of de Chardin as disconcerting as his uncritical enthusiasm for the cosmic membrane that has been snapped around the globe by the electric dilation of our various senses. This externalization of our senses creates what de Chardin calls the “noosphere” or a technological brain for the world. Instead of tending towards a vast Alexandrian library the world has become a computer, an electronic brain, exactly as in an infantile piece of science fiction. And as our senses have gone outside us, Big Brother goes inside. So, unless aware of this dynamic, we shall at once move into a phase of panic terrors, exactly befitting a small world of tribal drums, total interdependence, and superimposed co-existence. It is easy to perceive signs of such panic in Jacques Barzun who manifests himself as a fearless and ferocious Luddite in his The House of the Intellect. Sensing that all he holds dear stems from the operation of the alphabet on and through our minds, he proposes the abolition of all modern art, science, and philanthropy. This trio extirpated, he feels we can slap down the lid on Pandora’s box. At least Barzun localizes his problem even if he has no clue as to the kind of agency exerted by these forms. Terror is the normal state of any oral society, for in it everything affects everything all the time.