“Fundamentally letters are shapes indicating voices,” explained John of Salisbury in medieval England. “Hence they represent things which they bring to mind through the windows of the eyes.”
“Let him who is not come to logic be plagued with continuous and everlasting filth.”)
Those composing formal legal documents, such as charters and deeds, often felt the need to express their sensation of speaking to an invisible audience: “Oh! all ye who shall have heard this and have seen!” (They found it awkward to keep tenses straight, like voicemail novices leaving their first messages circa 1980.) Many charters ended with the word “Goodbye.”
print offers only a narrow channel of communication. The channel is linear and even fragmented. By contrast, speech—in the primal case, face-to-face human intercourse, alive with gesture and touch—engages all the senses, not just hearing. If the ideal of communication is a meeting of souls, then writing is a sad shadow of the ideal.