Gawain


Modern technological culture: what most helped produce it? The emergence of a particular mentality? Developments in social history? Or a history of specific inventions?

Gawain, l. 1846 ff:

“Now does my present displease you,” she promptly inquired,

“Because it seems in your sight so simple a thing?

And belike, as it is little [i.e. less rich and costly], it is less to praise,

But if the virtue hat invests it were verily known

It would be held, I hope, in higher esteem.

For the man that possesses this piece of silk,

If he bore it on his body, belted about,

There is no hand under heaven that could hew him down,

For he could not be killed by any craft on earth.”

Then the man began to muse, and mainly he thought

It was a pearl for his plight, the peril to come

When he gains the Green Chapel to get his reward:

Could he escape unscathed? The scheme were noble!

Then he bore her words and withstood them no more,

And she repeated her petition and pleaded anew,

And he granted it, and gladly she gave him the belt,

And besought him for her sake to conceal it well,

Lest the noble lord should know—and the knight agrees

That not a soul save themselves shall see it thenceforth

With sight.

He thanked her with fervent heart,

As often as ever he might;

Three times, before they part,

She has kissed the stalwart knight.

“The print-made split between head and heart is the trauma that affects Europe from Machiavelli to the present.”

–Marshall McLuhan, The Gutenberg Galaxy: The Making of Typographical Man (Toronto, 1964), p 170.

“[Jacob] Burckhardt connects the [Renaissance] ‘awakening of personality’ with a new spirit of independence and a new claim to shape one’s own life—apart from one’s ‘parents and ancestors.’

–Elizabeth Eisenstein, The Printing Press as an Agent of Change (New York: Cambridge U.P., 1979) 243

“[T]he sixteenth century saw a flood of treatises come off the new presses which were aimed at encouraging diverse forms of self-help and self-improvement . . .  . The chance to master new skills without undergoing a formal apprenticeship or schooling also encouraged a new sense of independence on the part of many who became self-taught.”

–Eisenstein, 243-4

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