jeudi 6 novembre 2003, par HURST André
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The decipherment of linear B writing in 1952 by Michael Ventris has thrown light on a very interesting problem : in the second millenium B.C., the Greeks had a writing system, but the amount of information they put into writing was limited. Other civilisations, including the Celts, made the same choice. Between what you memorize and what you write down, the choice must be made, and the reasons for the choice can be political and religious.
In the course of history, there was often a great resistance to writing, a resistance which ordinarily arose out of a form of respect for the human memory, and a strong diffidence towards storing important information outside the human brain.
This resistance is certainly to be connected with the status of sacred object that writing in itself has often received, as has been recently shown even for our own alphabet.
It is interesting and curious to observe how the problem of preserving information outside of human memory has appeared again with the introduction of computers.
André Hurst is professor of Greek and current Rector of the University of Geneva, Switzerland. His field of research and teaching includes mycenaean Greek, ancient epics (Homeric poems, hellenistic poetry, early Christian greek poetry), ancient theater and papyrology.
A.H. has studied in Geneva, Rome, München. He was a visiting professor at McGill University (Montréal, Canada), Université de Lausanne (Switzerland), Universitatea Babes-Bolyai (Cluj-Napoca, Romania), Ecole Normale Supérieure, rue d’Ulm (Paris, France), and a member of the Senior common room of St John’s College, Oxford. He was several times chairman of the Board of Trustees of Conservatory of Geneva, dean of the Faculté des lettres at the University of Geneva from 1986 to 1992, and he presided the commission of postgraduate studies of the faculties of arts of the French speaking Swiss universities until 2003. He is currently rector of the University of Geneva.