The speedy, interactive kind of thought formulation discussed in previous chapters has about it something of the electricity of thought, the instantaneous drive of intuitive ideation. This electric element for symbols is fun, in the sense of stimulating the human's innate physiological fascination with light and fire, with the joy of zapping, with the sense of holding absolute control over the symbolizations of thought. The book, on the other hand, produces a different kind of trancelike state where concentration and inner suggestibility are heightened. With the book, deep recesses of mind are reached through contemplative concentration and the sustained suggestions of stable symbols. The slight hypnosis induced by phosphorescent symbols effects a greater optical break with much of the everyday sensory environment, but this does not mean that concentration through radiant symbols is any deeper on the psychic level. Superficial glitter may in fact prohibit deeper assimilation. Those who defend the aesthetics of the printed page really intend to advocate something more than an appreciation of pleasant surfaces; they suspect the psychically different kinds of literacy.
The inner gestation of thought formulation is foreshortened. An increase
in reading speed comes with practice at reading the rapidly scrolling computer
screen, especially where data is inter- changed in the form of messages
and on-line communication. Verbal life becomes faster paced, ideational
flow is emphasized over gestation, and what William James calls "the
active expectation of the not yet verbalized" grows shorter in span.
The FORMation of words in formulation is, consequently, truncated.
(Electric Language 205-6.)
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