Predictions of an age of “secondary orality,” brought on by the diffusion of electronic media, are characteristic of the 1960's version of technological globalization, but draw on earlier accounts of orality as the primordial human communications medium. In these accounts, writing, as the technology of technologies, is imagined as a finite episode in human history and a superficial differentiation, whereas orality would reveal both a universal human endowment and a means of passage between the cultural and physical faces of our species identity. These examples bespeak a common imagination of the “return” as a figure of modernity's self-overcoming.

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