You may perceive, Madam," said Dr. Johnson with a pugilistic smile, that I am well-bred to a degree of needless scrupulosity " Whatever the degree of conformity the Doctor had achieved with the new stress of his time on white-shirted tidiness, he was quite aware of the growing social demand for visual presentability.
Printing from movable types was the first mechanization of a complex handicraft, and became the archetype of all subsequent mechanization. From Rabelais and More to Mill and Morris, the typographic explosion extended the minds and voices of men to reconstitute the human dialogue on a world scale that has bridged the ages. For if seen merely as a store of information, or as a new means of speedy retrieval of knowledge, typography ended parochialism and tribalism, psychically and socially, both m space and in time. Indeed the first two centuries of printing from movable types were motivated much more by the desire to see ancient and medieval books than by the need to read and write new ones. Until 1 700 much more than SO per cent of all printed books were ancient or medieval. Not only antiquity but also the Middle Ages were given to the first reading public of the printed word. And the medieval texts were by far the most popular.
Like any other extension of man, typography had psychic and social consequences that suddenly shifted previous boundaries and patterns of culture. In bringing the ancient and medieval worlds into fusion --or, as some would say, confusion -- the printed book created a third world, the modern world, which now encounters a new electric technology or a new extension of man. Electric means of moving of information are altering our typographic culture as sharply as print modified medieval manuscript and scholastic culture.
Beatrice Warde has recently described in Alphabet an electric display of letters painted by light. It was a Norman McLaren movie advertisement of which she asks
Do you wonder that I was late for the theatre that night, when I tell you that I saw two club-footed Egyptian A's . . . walking off arm-in-arm with the unmistakable swagger of a music-hall comedy-team? I saw base-serifs pulled together as if by ballet shoes, so that the letters tripped off literally sur les pointes . . .
after forty centuries of the necessarily static Alphabet, I saw what its members could do in the fourth dimension of Time,
"flux," movement. You may well say that I was electrified.
Nothing could be farther from typographic culture with its "place for everything and everything in its place."
Mrs. Warde has spent her life in the study of typography and she shows sure tact in her startled response to letters that are not printed by types but painted by light. It may be that the
explosion that began with phonetic letters (the "dragon's teeth"
sowed by King Cadmus) will reverse into "implosion" under the impulse of the instant speed of electricity. The alphabet (and its extension into typography) made possible the spread of the power that is knowledge, and shattered the bonds of tribal man, thus exploding him into agglomeration of individuals. Electric writing and speed pour upon him, instantaneously and continuously, the concerns of all other men. He becomes tribal once more. The human family becomes one tribe again.
Any student of the social history of the printed book is likely to be puzzled by the lack of understanding of the psychic and social effects of printing. In five centuries explicit comment and awareness of the effects of print on human sensibility are very scarce. But the same observation can be made about all the extensions of man, whether it be clothing or the computer. An extension appears to be an amplification of an organ, a sense or a function, that inspires the central nervous system to a self-protective gesture of numbing of the extended area, at least so far as direct inspection and awareness are concerned. Indirect comment on the effects of the printed book is available in abundance in the work of Rabelais, Cervantes, Montaigne, Swift, Pope, and Joyce. They used typography to create new art forms.
Psychically the printed book, an extension of the visual faculty, intensified perspective and the fixed point of view. Associated with the visual stress on point of view and the vanishing point that provides the illusion of perspective there comes another illusion that space is visual, uniform and continuous. The linearity precision and uniformity of the arrangement of movable types are inseparable from these great cultural forms and innovations of Renaissance experience. The new intensity of visual stress and private point of view in the first century of printing were united to the means of self-expression made possible by the typographic extension of man.
Socially, the typographic extension of man brought in nationalism, industrialism, mass markets, and universal literacy and education.
For print presented an image of repeatable precision that inspired totally new forms of extending social energies. Print released great psychic and social energies in the Renaissance, as today in Japan or Russia, by breaking the individual out of the traditional group while providing a model of how to add individual to individual in massive agglomeration of power. The same spirit of private enterprise that emboldened authors and artists to cultivate self-expression led other men to create giant corporations, both military and commercial.
Perhaps the most significant of the gifts of typography to man is that of detachment and noninvolvement--the power to act without reacting. Science since the Renaissance has exalted this gift which has become an embarrassment in the electric age, in which all people are involved in all others at all times. The very word
"disinterested," expressing the loftiest detachment and ethical integrity of typographic man, has in the past decade been increasingly used to mean: "He couldn't care less." The same integrity indicated by the term "disinterested" as a mark of the scientific and scholarly temper of a literate and enlightened society is now increasingly repudiated as "specialization" and fragmentation of knowledge and sensibility. The fragmenting and analytic power of the printed word in our psychic lives gave us that "dissociation of sensibility" which in the arts and literature since Cezanne and since Baudelaire has been a top priority for elimination in every program of reform in taste and knowledge. In the "implosion" of the electric age the separation of thought and feeling has come to seem as strange as the departmentalization of knowledge in schools and universities.
Yet it was precisely the power to separate thought and feeling, to be able to act without reacting, that split literate man out of the tribal world of close family bonds in private and and social life.
Typography was no more an addition to the scribal art than the motorcar was an addition to the horse. Printing had its
"horse-less carriage" phase of being misconceived and misapplied during its first decades, when it was not uncommon for the purchaser of a printed book to take it to a scribe to have it copied and illustrated. Even in the early eighteenth century a "textbook" was still defined as a "Classick Author written very wide by the Students, to give room for an Interpretation dictated by the Master, &c, to be inserted in the Interlines" (O.E.D.). Before printing, much of the time in school and college classrooms was spent in making such texts.
The classroom tended to be a scriptorium with a commentary. The student was an editor-publisher. By the same token the book market was a secondhand market of relatively scarce items. Printing changed learning and marketing processes alike. The book was the first teaching machine and also the first mass-produced commodity. In amplifying and extending the written word, typography revealed and greatly extended the structure of writing.
Today, with the cinema and the electric speed-up of information movement, the formal structure of the printed word, as of mechanism in general, stands forth like a branch washed up on the beach. A new medium is never an addition to an old one, nor does it leave the old one in peace. It never ceases to oppress the older media until it finds new shapes and positions for them. Manuscript culture had sustained an oral procedure in education that was called
"scholasticism" at its higher levels; but by putting the same text in front of any given number of students or readers print ended the scholastic regime of oral disputation very quickly. Print provided a vast new memory for past writings that made a personal memory inadequate.
Margaret Mead has reported that when she brought several copies of the same book to a Pacific island there was great excitement. The natives had seen books, but only one copy of each, which they had assumed to be unique. Their astonishment at the identical character of several books was a natural response
to what is after all the most magical and potent aspect of print and mass production. It involves a principle of extension by homogenization that is the key to understanding Western power.
The open society is open by virtue of a uniform typographic educational processing that permits indefinite expansion of any group by additive means. The printed book based on typographic uniformity and repeatability in the visual order was the first teaching machine, just as typography was the first mechanization of a handicraft. Yet in spite of the extreme fragmentation or specialization of human action necessary to achieve the printed word, the printed book represents a rich composite of previous cultural inventions. The total effort embodied in the illustrated book in print offers a striking example of the variety of separate acts of invention that are requisite to bring about a new technological result.
The psychic and social consequences of print included an extension of its fissile and uniform character to the gradual homogenization of diverse regions with the resulting amplification of power, energy, and aggression that we associate with new nationalisms. Psychically, the visual extension and amplification of the individual by print had many effects. Perhaps as striking as any other is the one mentioned by Mr.
E. M. Forster, who, when discussing some Renaissance types, suggested that "the printing press, then only a century old, had been mistaken for an engine of immortality, and men had hastened to commit to it deeds and passions for the benefit of future ages."
People began to act as though immortality were inherent in the magic repeatability and extensions of print.
Another significant aspect of the uniformity and repeatability of the printed page was the pressure it exerted toward "correct" spelling, syntax, and pronunciation. Even more notable were the effects of print in separating poetry from song, and prose from oratory, and popular from educated speech. In the matter of poetry it turned out that, as poetry could be read without being
heard, musical instruments could also be played without accompanying any verses. Music veered from the spoken word, to converge again with Bartok and Schoenberg.
With typography the process of separation (or explosion) of functions went on swiftly at all levels and in all spheres; nowhere was this matter observed and commented on with more bitterness than in the plays of Shakespeare. Especially in King Lear, Shakespeare provided an image or model of the process of quan-tification and fragmentation as it entered the world of politics and of family life. Lear at the very opening of the play presents "our darker purpose" as a plan of delegation of powers and duties: Only we shall retain
The name, and all th' addition to a King;
The sway, revenue, execution of the rest,
Beloved sons, be yours: which to confirm,
This coronet part between you.
This act of fragmentation and delegation blasts Lear, his kingdom, and his family. Yet to divide and rule was the dominant new idea of the organization of power in the Renaissance. "Our darker purpose"
refers to Machiavelli himself, who had developed an individualist and quantitative idea of power that struck more fear in that time than Marx in ours. Print, then, challenged the corporate patterns of medieval organization as much as electricity now challenges our fragmented individualism.
The uniformity and repeatability of print permeated the Renaissance with the idea of time and space as continuous measurable quantities.
The immediate effect of this idea was to desacralize the world of nature and the world of power alike. The new technique of control of physical processes by segmentation and fragmentation separated God and Nature as much as Man
and Nature, or man and man. Shock at this departure from traditional vision and inclusive awareness was often directed toward the figure of Machiavelli, who had merely spelled out the new quantitative and neutral or scientific ideas of force as applied to the manipulation of kingdoms.
Shakespeare's entire work is taken up with the themes of the new delimitations of power, both kingly and private. No greater horror could be imagined in his time than the spectacle of Richard II, the sacral king, undergoing the indignities of imprisonment and denudation of his sacred prerogatives. It is in Troilus and Cressida, however, that the new cults of fissile, irresponsible power, public and private, are paraded as a cynical charade of atomistic competition: Take the instant way;
The image of society as segmented into a homogeneous mass of quantified appetites shadows Shakespeare's vision in the later plays.
Of the many unforeseen consequences of typography, the emergence of nationalism is, perhaps, the most familiar. Political unification of populations by means of vernacular and language groupings was unthinkable before printing turned each vernacular into an extensive mass medium. The tribe, an extended form of a family of blood relatives, is exploded by print, and is replaced by an association of men homogeneously trained to be
individuals. Nationalism itself came as an intense new visual image of group destiny and status, and depended on a speed of information movement unknown before printing. Today nationalism as an image still depends on the press but has all the electric media against it. In business, as in politics, the effect of even jet-plane speeds is to render the older national groupings of social organization quite unworkable. In the Renaissance it was the speed of print and the ensuing market and commercial developments that made nationalism (which is continuity and competition in homogeneous space) as natural as it was new. By the same token, the heterogeneities and noncompetitive discontinuities of medieval guilds and family organization had become a great nuisance as speed-up of information by print called for more fragmentation and uniformity of function. The Benvenuto Cellinis, the
goldsmith-cum-painter-cum-sculptor-cum-writer-cum-condottiere, became obsolete.
Once a new technology comes into a social milieu it cannot cease to permeate that milieu until every institution is saturated. Typography has permeated every phase of the arts and sciences in the past five hundred years. It would be easy to document the processes by which the principles of continuity, uniformity, and repeatability have become the basis of calculus and of marketing, as of industrial production, entertainment, and science. It will be enough to point out that repeatability conferred on the printed book the strangely novel character of a uniformly priced commodity opening the door to price systems. The printed book had in addition the quality of portability and accessibility that had been lacking in the manuscript.
Directly associated with these expansive qualities was the revolution in expression. Under manuscript conditions the role of being an author was a vague and uncertain one, like that of a minstrel. Hence, self-expression was of little interest. Typography, however, created a medium in which it was possible to speak out loud and bold to the world itself, just as it was possible
to circumnavigate the world of books previously locked up in a pluralistic world of monastic cells. Boldness of type created boldness of expression.
Uniformity reached also into areas of speech and writing, leading to a single tone and attitude to reader and subject spread throughout an entire composition. The "man of letters" was born. Extended to the spoken word, this literate equitone enabled literate people to maintain a single "high tone" in discourse that was quite devastating, and enabled nineteenth-century prose writers to assume moral qualities that few would now care to simulate. Permeation of the colloquial language with literate uniform qualities has flattened out educated speech till it is a very reasonable acoustic facsimile of the uniform and continuous visual effects of typography. From this technological effect follows the further fact that the humor, slang, and dramatic vigor of American-English speech are monopolies of the semi-literate.
These typographical matters for many people are charged with controversial values. Yet in any approach to understanding print it is necessary to stand aside from the form in question if its typical pressure and life are to be observed. Those who panic now about the threat of the newer media and about the revolution we are forging, vaster in scope than that of Gutenberg, are obviously lacking in cool visual detachment and gratitude for that most potent gift bestowed on Western man by literacy and typography: his power to act without reaction or involvement. It is this kind of specialization by dissociation that has created Western power and efficiency.
Without this dissociation of action from feeling and emotion people are hampered and hesitant. Print taught men to say, "Damn the torpedoes. Full steam ahead!"
WHEEL, BICYCLE, AND AIRPLANE
The kinds of interplay between wheel, bicycle, and airplane are startling to those who have never thought about them. Scholars tend to work on the archeological assumption that things need to be studied in isolation. This is the habit of specialism that quite naturally derives from typographic culture. When a scholar like Lynn White ventures to make some interrelations, even in his own area of special historical study, he causes a good deal of unhappiness among his merely specialist colleagues. In his Medieval Technology and Social Change he explains how the feudal system was a social extension of the stirrup. The stirrup first appeared in the West in the eighth century A.D., having been introduced from the East. With the stirrup came mounted shock combat that called into existence a new social class. The European cavalier class had already existed to be armed, but to mount a knight in full armor required the combined resources often or more peasant holdings. Charlemagne demanded that less prosperous freemen merge their private farms to equip a single knight for the
wars. The pressure of the new war technology gradually developed classes and an economic system that could provide numerous cavaliers in heavy armor. By about the year 1000 A.D. the old word miles had changed from "soldier" to "knight."
Lynn White has much to say, also, about horseshoes and horse-collars as revolutionary technology that increased the power and extended the range and speed of human action in the early Middle Ages. He is sensitive to the psychic and social implications of each technological extension of man, showing how the heavy wheel-plow brought about a new order in the field system, as well as in the diet of that age. "The Middle Ages were literally full of beans."
To come more directly to our subject of the wheel, Lynn White explains how the evolution of the wheel in the Middle Ages was related to the development of the horsecollar and the harness. The greater speed and endurance of the horse was not available for cartage until the discovery of the collar. But once evolved, this horse-harness led to the development of wagons with pivoted front axles and brakes. The four-wheel wagon capable of hauling heavy loads was a common feature by the middle of the thirteenth century.
The effects on town life were extraordinary. Peasants began to live in cities while going each day to their fields, almost in the manner of motorized Saskatchewan farmers. These latter live mainly in the city, having no housing in the country beyond sheds for their tractors and equipment.
With the coming of the horse-drawn bus and streetcar, American towns developed housing that was no longer within sight of shop or factory. The railroad next took over the development of the suburbs, with housing kept within walking distance of the railroad stop. Shops and hotels around the railroad gave some concentration and form to the suburb. The automobile, followed by the airplane, dissolved this grouping and ended the pedestrian, or human, scale of the suburb.
Lewis Mumford contends
that the car turned the suburban housewife into a full-time chauffeur.
Certainly the transformations of the wheel as expediter of tasks, and architect of ever-new human relations, is far from finished, but its shaping power is waning in the electric age of information, and that fact makes us much more aware of its characteristic form as now tending toward the archaic.
Before the emergence of the wheeled vehicle, there was merely the abrasive traction principle -runners, skids, and skis preceded wheels for vehicles, just as the abrasive, semirotary motion of the hand-operated spindle and drill preceded the full, free rotary motion of the potter's wheel. There is a moment of translation or
"abstraction" needed to separate the reciprocating movement of hand from the free movement of wheel. "Doubtless the notion of the wheel came originally from observing that rolling a log was easier than shoving it," writes Lewis Mumford in Technics and Civilization.
Some might object that log-rolling is closer to the spindle operation of the hands than to the rotary movement of feet, and need never have got translated into the technology of wheel. Under stress, it is more natural to fragment our own bodily form, and to let part of it go into another material, than it is to transfer any of the motions of external objects into another material. To extend our bodily postures and motions into new materials, by way of amplification, is a constant drive for more power. Most of our bodily stresses are interpreted as needs for extending storage and mobility functions, such as occur, also, in speech, money, and writing. All manner of utensils are a yielding to this bodily stress by means of extensions of the body. The need for storage and portability can readily be noted in vases, jars, and "slow matches" (stored fire).
Perhaps the main feature of all tools and machines -economy of gesture --is the immediate expression of any physical pressure which impels us to outer or to extend ourselves, whether in words or in wheels. Man can say it with flowers or plows or locomotives. In
"Krazy Kat," Ignatz said it with bricks.
One of the most advanced and complicated uses of the wheel occurs in the movie camera and in the movie projector. It is significant that this most subtle and complex grouping of wheels should have been invented in order to win a bet that all four feet of a running horse were sometimes off the ground simultaneously. This bet was made between the pioneer photographer Edward
Muybridge and horse-owner Leland Stanford, in 1889. At first, a series of cameras were set up side by side, each to snap an arrested moment of the horse's hooves in action. The movie camera and the projector were evolved from the idea of reconstructing mechanically the movement of feet. The wheel, that began as extended feet, took a great evolutionary step into the movie theater.
By an enormous speed-up of assembly-line segments, the movie camera rolls up the real world on a spool, to be unrolled and translated later onto the screen. That the movie recreates organic process and movement by pushing the mechanical principle to the point of reversal is a pattern that appears in all human extensions, whatever, as they reach a peak of performance. By speed-up, the airplane rolls up the highway into itself. The road disappears into the plane at take-off, and the plane becomes a missile, a self-contained transportation system. At this point the wheel is reabsorbed into the form of bird or fish that the plane becomes as it takes to the air.
Skin-divers need no path or road, and claim that their motion is like that of bird flight; their feet cease to exist as the progressive, sequential movement that is the origin of rotary action of the wheel.
Unlike wing or fin, the wheel is lineal and requires road for its completion.
It was the tandem alignment of wheels that created the velocipede and then the bicycle, for with the acceleration of wheel by linkage to the visual principle of mobile lineality, the wheel acquired a new degree of intensity. The bicycle lifted the wheel onto the plane of aerodynamic balance, and not too indirectly created the airplane. It was no accident that the Wright
brothers were bicycle mechanics, or that early airplanes seemed in some ways like bicycles. The transformations of technology gave the character of organic evolution because all technologies are extensions of our physical being. Samuel Butler raised great admiration in Bernard Shaw by his insight that the evolutionary process had been fantastically accelerated by transference to the machine mode. Shaw, however, was happy to leave the matter in this delightfully opaque state. Butler, himself, had at least indicated that machines were given vicarious powers of reproduction by their subsequent impact upon the very bodies that had brought them into being by extension. Response to the increased power and speed of our own extended bodies is one which engenders new extensions.
Every technology creates new stresses and needs in the human beings who have engendered it. The new need and the new technological response are born of our embrace of the already existing technology a ceaseless process.
Those familiar with the novels and plays of Samuel Beckett need not be reminded of the rich clowning he engenders by means of the bicycle. It is for him the prime symbol of the Cartesian mind in its acrobatic relation of mind and body in precarious imbalance. This plight goes with a lineal progression that mimics the very form of purposeful and resourceful independence of action. For Beckett, the integral being is not the acrobat but the clown. The acrobat acts as a specialist, using only a limited segment of his faculties. The clown is the integral man who mimes the acrobat in an elaborate drama of incompetence. Beckett sees the bicycle as the sign and symbol of specialist futility in the present electric age, when we must all interact and react, using all of our faculties at once.
Humpty-Dumpty is the familiar example of the clown unsuccessfully imitating the acrobat. Just because all the King's horses and all the King's men couldn't put Humpty-Dumpty together again, it doesn't
follow that electromagnetic automation
couldn't have put Humpty-Dumpty back together. The integral and unified egg had no business sitting on a wall, anyway. Walls are made of uniformly fragmented bricks that arise with specialisms and bureaucracies. They are the deadly enemies of integral beings like eggs. Humpty-Dumpty met the challenge of the wall with a spectacular collapse.
The same nursery rhyme comments on the consequences of the fall of Humpty-Dumpty. That is the point about the King's horses and men. They, too, are fragmented and specialized. Having no unified vision of the whole, they are helpless. Humpty-Dumpty is an obvious example of integral wholeness. The mere existence of the wall already spelt his fall. James Joyce in Finnegans Wake never ceases to interlace these themes, and the title of the work indicates his awareness that "a stone-aging" as it may be, the electric age is recovering the unity of plastic and iconic space, and is putting Humpty-Dumpty back together again.
The potter’s wheel, like all other technologies, was the acceleration of an existing process. After nomad food-gathering had shifted to sedentary plowing and seeding, the need for storage increased.
Pots were needed for more and more purposes. Men turned their powers to changing the forms of things by cultivation. Change to special production in local areas created the need for exchange and for transport. For this purpose sledges were used in Northern Europe before 5000 B.C., and human porters and pack-bearing animals preceded sledges naturally. The wheel under the sledge was an accelerator of feet, not of hand. With this acceleration of the feet came the need for road, just as with the extension of our backsides in the form of chair, came the need for table. The wheel is an ablative absolute of feet, as chair is the ablative absolute of backside. But when such ablatives intrude, they alter the syntax of society. There is no ceteris paribus in the world of media and technology. Every extension or acceleration effects new configurations in the over-all situation at once.
The wheel made the road, and moved produce faster from fields to settlements. Acceleration created larger and larger centers more and more specialism, and more intense incentive, aggregates, and aggressions. So it is that the wheeled vehicle makes its appearance at once as a war chariot, just as the urban center, created by the
wheel, makes its appearance as an aggressive stronghold No further motivation than the compounding and consolidating of specialist skills by acceleration of the wheel is needed to explain the mounting degree of human creativity and destructiveness.
Lewis Mumford calls this urbanization "implosion," but it was really an explosion. Cities were made by the fragmenting of pastoral modes. The wheel and the road expressed and advanced this explosion by a radiational or center-margin pattern. Centralism depends on margins that are accessible by road and wheel.
Maritime power does not assume this center-margin structure, and neither do desert and steppe cultures. Today with jet arid electricity, urban centralism and specialism reverse into decentralism and interplay of social functions in ever more nonspecialist forms.
The wheel and the road are centralizers because they accelerate up to a point that ships cannot. But acceleration beyond a certain point, when it occurs by means of the automobile and the plane, creates decentralism in the midst of the older central ism. This is the origin of the urban chaos of our time The wheel, pushed beyond a certain intensity of movement, no longer centralizes. All electric forms whatsoever have a decentralizing effect, cutting across the older mechanical patterns like a bagpipe in a symphony. It is too bad that Mr. Mumford has chosen the term "implosion" for the urban specialist explosion "Implosion" belongs to the electronic age. as it belonged to the prehistoric cultures. All primitive societies are implosive, like the spoken word. Rut "technology is explicitness." as Lyman Bryson has said; and explicitness, or specialist extension of functions, is
An airline executive who is much aware of the implosive character of world aviation asked a corresponding executive of each airline in the world to send him a pebble from outside his office. His idea was to build a little cairn of pebbles from all parts of the world. When asked,
"So what?" he said that in one spot one could touch every part of the world because of aviation. In effect, he had hit upon the mosaic or iconic principle of simultaneous touch and interplay that is inherent in the implosive speed of the airplane. The same principle of implosive mosaic is even more characteristic of electric information movement of all kinds.
Centralism and extension of power by wheel and written word to the margins of empire are creative of the direct force, outside and external, to which men do not necessarily submit their minds. But implosion is the spell and incantation of the tribe and the family, to which men readily submit. Under technological explicitness, even of the urban centralist structure, some men managed to break out of the charmed circle of tribal magic. Mumford cites the words of the Chinese philosopher Mencius as a comment on this situation: When men are subdued by force they do not submit in their minds, but only because their strength is inadequate. When men are subdued by power in personality they are pleased to their very heart's core and do really submit.
As the expression of new specialist extensions of our bodies the congregating of people and supplies in centers by wheel and road called for endless reciprocal expansion in a spongelike action of intake and output, which has entrapped all urban structures everywhere in place and time. Mumford observes: "If I interpret the evidence correctly, the cooperative forms of urban
polity were undermined and vitiated from the outset by the destructive death-oriented myths which attended . . . the exorbitant expansion of physical power and technological adroitness." To have such power by extension of their own bodies, men must explode the inner unity of their beings into explicit fragments. Today, in an age of implosion, we are playing the ancient explosion backward, as on a film. We can watch the pieces of man's being coming together again in an age that has so much power that the all-destructive use of it appears meaningless, even to the dim and skew of wit.
Historians see the forms of the great cities in the ancient world as manifesting all facets of human personality. Institutions, architectural and administrative, as extensions of our physical beings necessarily tend toward world-wide similarities. The central nervous system of the city was the citadel which included the great temple and palace of the king, invested with the dimensions and iconography of power and prestige. The extent to which this central core could extend its power safely depended on its power of acting at a distance. Not until the alphabet appeared, together with papyrus, could the citadel extend itself very far in space. (See the chapter on Roads and Paper Routes.) The ancient city, however, could appear as quickly as specialist man could separate his inner functions in space and architecture. To say that the cities of the Aztecs and the Peruvians resembled European cities is only to say that the) shared and extended the same faculties in both regions. The question of direct physical influence and imitation as if by diffusion becomes irrelevant.