EXCERPT from the Address:
Leon Botstein, the young President of Bard College in New York recently wrote the following: …no one in America writes except from necessity. Our ease of movement and access to the telephone have made most of our exchanges not written but rather oral, distance notwithstanding. Good news is brought in person or by voice; bad news in writing. We tell someone we love them, and we write the proverbial ‘Dear John’ letter. Bills, warnings, eviction notices and refusals come in writing…The relatives we wish not to see are those to whom we write. In this world, it is little wonder that no American child sees any need to become literate.
And yet the need to become literate remains a sine qua non of place and purpose in the modern world. The computer revolution will not obliterate in one fell swoop the consequences of Gutenberg. Those of us who proudly use, and disingenuously abuse, the myth of the ‘oral tradition’ will not escape the tenacity of the scribal imperative. Writing is not antonym to speaking. Both will continue hand in hand for a long time to come since societies like ours in the Caribbean cannot afford the neglect of any of the skills and modalities of communication with ourselves and with the rest of the world if we are to find form and purpose in sharing the human condition….