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If you accept the idea that linear abstraction is a masculine trait, and that holistic

visualization is feminine, the rest of the theory falls into place. . . . visual orientation

returns to prominence within society through film, television, and cyberspace

 

 

 

The Alphabet Versus The Goddess

The Conflict Between Word & Image

By Leonard Shlain

Reviews

 

This groundbreaking book proposes that the rise of alphabetic literacy reconfigured the human brain and brought about profound changes in history, religion, and gender relations. Making remarkable connections across brain function, myth, and anthropology, Dr. Shlain shows why pre-literate cultures were principally informed by holistic, right-brain modes that venerated the Goddess, images, and feminine values. 

 

Writing drove cultures toward linear left-brain thinking and this shift upset the balance between men and women, initiating the decline of the feminine and ushering in patriarchal rule. Examining the cultures of the Israelites, Greeks, Christians, and Muslims, Shlain reinterprets ancient myths and parables in light of his theory. Provocative and inspiring, this book is a paradigm-shattering work that will transform your view of history and the mind.

--Publisher

Literacy has promoted the subjugation of women by men throughout all but the very recent history of the West," writes Leonard Shlain. "Misogyny and patriarchy rise and fall with the fortunes of the alphabetic written word.

That's a pretty audacious claim, one that The Alphabet Versus The Goddess provides extensive historical and cultural correlations to support. Shlain's thesis takes readers from the evolutionary steps that distinguish the human brain from that of the primates to the development of the Internet. The very act of learning written language, he argues, exercises the human brain's left hemisphere--the half that handles linear, abstract thought--and enforces its dominance over the right hemisphere, which thinks holistically and visually. 

If you accept the idea that linear abstraction is a masculine trait, and that holistic visualization is feminine, the rest of the theory falls into place. The flip side is that as visual orientation returns to prominence within society through film, television, and cyberspace, the status of women increases, soon to return to the equilibrium of the earliest human cultures. 

Shlain wisely presents this view of history as plausible rather than definite, but whether you agree with his wide-ranging speculations or not, he provides readers eager to "understand it all" with much to consider.

--Ron Hogan, Amazon.com

The advantages of a literate society are self-evident, but is there a dark side to language? In this extraordinary book, Shlain, a surgeon and the author of Art and Physics (LJ 9/1/91), argues that when cultures acquire literacy, the brain's left hemisphere dominates the right with enormous consequences. Alphabetic writing, Shlain believes, "subliminally fosters a patriarchal outlook" at the expense of feminine values. 

 

Focusing on Western cultures, Shlain surveys world history and religion to illustrate how alphabet literacy fosters extremes of intolerance. Indeed, a subtheme of the book is that overreliance on the left hemisphere "initially leads a society through a period of demonstrable madness." Such aberrations as group suicide, religious persecution, and witch-hunting are the result of a dominant linear, reductionist, and abstract method of perception. 

 

While admitting that "correlation does not prove causality," Shlain presents a forceful case based on a wealth of circumstantial evidence. An absorbing, provocative, and, ironically, highly literate work that should receive considerable review attention; recommended for most public and academic libraries.?

--Laurie Bartolini, MacMurray,  Library Journal

A bold and fascinating investigation of the dark side of literacy.

--The New York Times Book Review

A fascinating account of the evolution of our male and female ways of knowing" 

--Clarissa Pinkola Estes, author of Women Who Run with the Wolves

Making remarkable connections across a wide range of subjects including brain anatomy and function, anthropology, history, and religion, Shlain argues that, with the advent of literacy, the very act of reading an alphabet reinforced the brain's left hemisphere - linear, abstract, predominantly masculine at the expense of the right holistic, concrete, visual, feminine. This shift upset the balance between men and women, and initiated the disappearance of goddesses, the abhorrence of images, the decline of women's social and political status, and a long reign of patriarchy and misogyny. 

The Alphabet Versus The Goddess tracks the correlations between the rise and fall of literacy and the changing status of women in society, mythology, and religion throughout European history, and in other cultures as well. Shlain goes on to describe a colossal shift he calls the iconic revolution, now under way, that began in the nineteenth century: the return of the image. 

The invention of photography and the discovery of electromagnetism have brought us film, television, video, computers, advertising, graphics - and a shift from the dominance of the left hemisphere to reassertion of the right. Image information has gradually been superseding print information, and in the resulting social revolution women have benefited as society shifts to embrace feminine values.
--Card catalog description

Source: The Alphabet Versus The Goddess: The Conflict Between Word and Image (1998) by Leonard Shlain

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Source: The Alphabet Versus The Goddess: The Conflict Between Word and Image (1998) by Leonard Shlain

Leonard Shlain -- Surgeon, Author, Educator, Inventor, Speaker -- has received many distinctions and awards both as a surgeon and educator.  He began his writing career in the late 1970's contributing articles to magazines and newspapers including the Los Angeles Times.

In addition to being an author, Shlain is also Chief of Laparoscopic Surgery at California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco and Associate Professor of Surgery at UCSF.  He was a pioneer in the field of video-assisted laparoscopic surgery and presently holds five patents for surgical devices. His Art & Physics is presently used as a textbook in many universities, high schools, and art academies.

In a more recent book,  Sex, Time, and Power, Shlain offers carefully reasoned, and certain to be controversial discussions on such subjects as menstruation, orgasm, puberty, circumcision, male aggression, menopause, baldness, left-handedness, the evolution of language, homosexuality, and the origin of marriage. Written in a lively and accessible style, Sex, Time, and Power is certain to generate heated debate in the media and among readers interested in human evolution and the history of sexuality.

 

Source: The Alphabet Versus The Goddess: The Conflict Between Word and Image (1998) by Leonard Shlain

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AALBC.com's 25 Best Selling Books

For July 1st through August 31st 2011
 

Fiction

#1 - Justify My Thug by Wahida Clark
#2 - Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree
#3 - Head Bangers: An APF Sexcapade by Zane
#4 - Life Is Short But Wide by J. California Cooper
#5 - Stackin' Paper 2 Genesis' Payback by Joy King
#6 - Thug Lovin' (Thug 4) by Wahida Clark
#7 - When I Get Where I'm Going by Cheryl Robinson
#8 - Casting the First Stone by Kimberla Lawson Roby
#9 - The Sex Chronicles: Shattering the Myth by Zane

#10 - Covenant: A Thriller  by Brandon Massey

#11 - Diary Of A Street Diva  by Ashley and JaQuavis

#12 - Don't Ever Tell  by Brandon Massey

#13 - For colored girls who have considered suicide  by Ntozake Shange

#14 - For the Love of Money : A Novel by Omar Tyree

#15 - Homemade Loves  by J. California Cooper

#16 - The Future Has a Past: Stories by J. California Cooper

#17 - Player Haters by Carl Weber

#18 - Purple Panties: An Eroticanoir.com Anthology by Sidney Molare

#19 - Stackin' Paper by Joy King

#20 - Children of the Street: An Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery by Kwei Quartey

#21 - The Upper Room by Mary Monroe

#22 – Thug Matrimony  by Wahida Clark

#23 - Thugs And The Women Who Love Them by Wahida Clark

#24 - Married Men by Carl Weber

#25 - I Dreamt I Was in Heaven - The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang by Leonce Gaiter

Non-fiction

#1 - Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable
#2 - Confessions of a Video Vixen by Karrine Steffans
#3 - Dear G-Spot: Straight Talk About Sex and Love by Zane
#4 - Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny by Hill Harper
#5 - Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You're Going Through by Iyanla Vanzant
#6 - Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey by Marcus Garvey
#7 - The Ebony Cookbook: A Date with a Dish by Freda DeKnight
#8 - The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing
#9 - The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson

#10 - John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History  by Ahati N. N. Toure

#11 - Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley

#12 -The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

#13 - The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell

#14 - The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore

#15 - Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can't Commit  by RM Johnson

#16 - Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins

#17 - Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell

#18 - A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose by Eckhart Tolle

#19 - John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard

#20 - Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris

#21 - Age Ain't Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife by Carleen Brice

#22 - 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino
#23 - Chicken Soup for the Prisoner's Soul by Tom Lagana
#24 - 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know by LaMarr Darnell Shields

#25 - Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class  by Lisa B. Thompson

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Blacks in Hispanic Literature: Critical Essays

Edited by Miriam DeCosta-Willis 

Blacks in Hispanic Literature is a collection of fourteen essays by scholars and creative writers from Africa and the Americas. Called one of two significant critical works on Afro-Hispanic literature to appear in the late 1970s, it includes the pioneering studies of Carter G. Woodson and Valaurez B. Spratlin, published in the 1930s, as well as the essays of scholars whose interpretations were shaped by the Black aesthetic. The early essays, primarily of the Black-as-subject in Spanish medieval and Golden Age literature, provide an historical context for understanding 20th-century creative works by African-descended, Hispanophone writers, such as Cuban Nicolás Guillén and Ecuadorean poet, novelist, and scholar Adalberto Ortiz, whose essay analyzes the significance of Negritude in Latin America. This collaborative text set the tone for later conferences in which writers and scholars worked together to promote, disseminate, and critique the literature of Spanish-speaking people of African descent. . . . Cited by a literary critic in 2004 as "the seminal study in the field of Afro-Hispanic Literature . . . on which most scholars in the field 'cut their teeth'."

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Confidence Men: Wall Street, Washington, and the Education of a President

By Ron Suskind

A new book offering an insider's account of the White House's response to the financial crisis says that U.S. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner ignored an order from President Barack Obama calling for reconstruction of major banks. According to Pulitzer Prize-winning author Ron Suskind, the incident is just one of several in which Obama struggled with a divided group of advisers, some of whom he didn't initially consider for their high-profile roles. Suskind interviewed more than 200 people, including Obama, Geithner and other top officials . . . The book states Geithner and the Treasury Department ignored a March 2009 order to consider dissolving banking giant Citigroup while continuing stress tests on banks, which were burdened with toxic mortgage assets. . . .Suskind states that Obama accepts the blame for mismanagement in his administration while noting that restructuring the financial system was complicated and could have resulted in deeper financial harm. . . . In a February 2011 interview with Suskind, Obama acknowledges another ongoing criticism—that he is too focused on policy and not on telling a larger story, one the public could relate to. Obama is quoted as saying he was elected in part because "he had connected our current predicaments with the broader arc of American history," but that such a "narrative thread" had been lost.—Gopusa

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Leonard Shlain -- Surgeon, Author, Educator, Inventor, Speaker -- has received many distinctions and awards both as a surgeon and educator.  He began his writing career in the late 1970's contributing articles to magazines and newspapers including the Los Angeles Times.

In addition to being an author, Shlain is also Chief of Laparoscopic Surgery at California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco and Associate Professor of Surgery at UCSF.  He was a pioneer in the field of video-assisted laparoscopic surgery and presently holds five patents for surgical devices. His Art & Physics is presently used as a textbook in many universities, high schools, and art academies.

In a more recent book,  Sex, Time, and Power, Shlain offers carefully reasoned, and certain to be controversial discussions on such subjects as menstruation, orgasm, puberty, circumcision, male aggression, menopause, baldness, left-handedness, the evolution of language, homosexuality, and the origin of marriage. Written in a lively and accessible style, Sex, Time, and Power is certain to generate heated debate in the media and among readers interested in human evolution and the history of sexuality.

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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Negro Digest / Black World

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery / George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of Haiti 

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update 31 July 2010 

 

 

 

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Related files:  Sex Time and Power  Alphabet Versus Goddes Reviews  Alphabet Versus Goddess Preface Alphabet vs Goddess Epilogue