The Western Civ User’s Guide to Reading & Writing

Okay, gang, here we go! I’m starting up another Western Civ User’s Guide. This time around we’re looking at reading and writing. If you’re a loyal follower, you know we’re all about the history of ideas here at Western Civ User’s Guide world headquarters. In this book I want to explore 2 themes. One, how an ancient invention—the alphabet—was so essential that it’s endured down to our own time. Two, that the history of Western Civ can be seen as a series of culture-changing transfers of power from privileged elites (usually played in the movies by the late Alan Rickman) to the broader population (regular shmoes). For example, the alphabet and later moveable type brought literacy to huge amounts of people; the printing press and later the internet increased the distribution of information.

In case anyone’s fuzzy about what exactly Western Civilization is, here are links to a couple of brilliant explanations:

https://johnmanders.wordpress.com/2019/01/13/what-is-a-civilization/
https://johnmanders.wordpress.com/2019/01/16/where-in-the-world-is-western-civilization/

As usual, there will be lousy gags and badly-drawn cartoons squeezed in between bits of actual history. This is interactive—chime in if you have information to share. I heartily thank you weirdos for following. See you next post!

176 responses to “The Western Civ User’s Guide to Reading & Writing

  1. Pingback: AGAIN! | John Manders' Blog

  2. Pingback: Back in caveman days | John Manders' Blog

  3. Pingback: Counting your chickens before numbers | John Manders' Blog

  4. Pingback: How to start up a civilization | John Manders' Blog

  5. Pingback: Putting the pot in Mesopotamia | John Manders' Blog

  6. Pingback: Chicken scratchings | John Manders' Blog

  7. Pingback: Stylin’ with the stylus | John Manders' Blog

  8. Pingback: Writing gets complicated | John Manders' Blog

  9. Pingback: Ideograms | John Manders' Blog

  10. Pingback: Learn to be a scribe! Earn big money! | John Manders' Blog

  11. Pingback: The birth of Western Lit | John Manders' Blog

  12. Pingback: The Bull of Heaven | John Manders' Blog

  13. Pingback: Darius the Great | John Manders' Blog

  14. Pingback: The Persian Postal Service | John Manders' Blog

  15. Pingback: I, Darius, proclaim | John Manders' Blog

  16. Pingback: Crytograms | John Manders' Blog

  17. Pingback: Meanwhile, in Egypt… | John Manders' Blog

  18. Pingback: Down by the river | John Manders' Blog

  19. Pingback: The first pharaoh | John Manders' Blog

  20. Pingback: Writing of the gods | John Manders' Blog

  21. Pingback: Papyrus | John Manders' Blog

  22. Pingback: Papyrus pens | John Manders' Blog

  23. Pingback: Papyrus brushes | John Manders' Blog

  24. Pingback: Ink | John Manders' Blog

  25. Pingback: Logograms | John Manders' Blog

  26. Pingback: Rebus | John Manders' Blog

  27. Pingback: Milton Glaser and logograms | John Manders' Blog

  28. Pingback: So let it be written | John Manders' Blog

  29. Pingback: But what does it mean? | John Manders' Blog

  30. Pingback: Everybody wants Egypt | John Manders' Blog

  31. Pingback: Alexander whups the Persians | John Manders' Blog

  32. Pingback: Ptolemy I Soter | John Manders' Blog

  33. Pingback: Carpet bombshell | John Manders' Blog

  34. Pingback: The Battle of Actium! | John Manders' Blog

  35. Pingback: Bireme | John Manders' Blog

  36. Pingback: Merry Christmas! | John Manders' Blog

  37. Pingback: The new religion | John Manders' Blog

  38. Pingback: In hock Señor Wences | John Manders' Blog

  39. Pingback: It’s official! | John Manders' Blog

  40. Pingback: That old wheel of fortune | John Manders' Blog

  41. Pingback: Napoleon’s soldiers discover something big | John Manders' Blog

  42. Pingback: Cartouche is not something you get from a long automobile trip | John Manders' Blog

  43. Pingback: The hardest cryptogram evurrrr | John Manders' Blog

  44. Pingback: Phoenicians | John Manders' Blog

  45. Pingback: Copper and Tin | John Manders' Blog

  46. Pingback: A sea-change | John Manders' Blog

  47. Pingback: Twenty-two little letters | John Manders' Blog

  48. Pingback: Canaanite turquoise miners fool around during lunch break | John Manders' Blog

  49. Pingback: A win for the shmos | John Manders' Blog

  50. Pingback: Abjad | John Manders' Blog

  51. Pingback: The purple people | John Manders' Blog

  52. Pingback: Carthage | John Manders' Blog

  53. Pingback: How my sketches evolve | John Manders' Blog

  54. Pingback: Tfel-ot-thgir (right-to-left) | John Manders' Blog

  55. Pingback: The Hebrew alphabet | John Manders' Blog

  56. Pingback: Guest blogger: Ilene Winn-Lederer | John Manders' Blog

  57. Pingback: Things go sideways for Israel | John Manders' Blog

  58. Pingback: The Babylonian Captivity | John Manders' Blog

  59. Pingback: The alefbet | John Manders' Blog

  60. Pingback: Those really ancient Greeks | John Manders' Blog

  61. Pingback: I ax a question | John Manders' Blog

  62. Pingback: Whatever happened to Linear A? | John Manders' Blog

  63. Pingback: Linear B | John Manders' Blog

  64. Pingback: Homer busts a dactyl | John Manders' Blog

  65. Pingback: Vowels | John Manders' Blog

  66. Pingback: Homer starts the Vowel Movement | John Manders' Blog

  67. Pingback: Boustrophedon: as the ox plows | John Manders' Blog

  68. Pingback: Alpha to Omega | John Manders' Blog

  69. Pingback: We need a gag writer! | John Manders' Blog

  70. Pingback: Greece’s savage conqueror | John Manders' Blog

  71. Pingback: Calligraphy | John Manders' Blog

  72. Pingback: Writ large | John Manders' Blog

  73. Pingback: Serifs | John Manders' Blog

  74. Pingback: We have a winner! | John Manders' Blog

  75. Pingback: Parchment | John Manders' Blog

  76. Pingback: Making parchment | John Manders' Blog

  77. Pingback: All creatures | John Manders' Blog

  78. Pingback: Les roules | John Manders' Blog

  79. Pingback: Scrolls are still around | John Manders' Blog

  80. Pingback: Maybe that’s why medias res got moved to the front | John Manders' Blog

  81. Pingback: The whole megillah in one sentence | John Manders' Blog

  82. Pingback: It was bound to happen | John Manders' Blog

  83. Pingback: Iron gall ink | John Manders' Blog

  84. Pingback: Gall and vitriol! | John Manders' Blog

  85. Pingback: Rome-schooling | John Manders' Blog

  86. Pingback: Learning Latin | John Manders' Blog

  87. Pingback: Fringe Romans and country men | John Manders' Blog

  88. Pingback: Today’s post brought to you by the letter P, or maybe F | John Manders' Blog

  89. Pingback: Today’s post is brought to you by the letter C | John Manders' Blog

  90. Pingback: Today’s post is brought to you by the letters I, J, U, V, W and Y. | John Manders' Blog

  91. Pingback: The sack of Rome | John Manders' Blog

  92. Pingback: Edward Gibbon, 1737 – 1794 | John Manders' Blog

  93. Pingback: Please hold while I speed-read through Gibbon | John Manders' Blog

  94. Pingback: The die is cast! | John Manders' Blog

  95. Pingback: The die is cast! Part II | John Manders' Blog

  96. Pingback: The die is cast! Part III | John Manders' Blog

  97. Pingback: The die is cast! Part IV | John Manders' Blog

  98. Pingback: How do you run an empire once you have one? | John Manders' Blog

  99. Pingback: Cheeseburgers | John Manders' Blog

  100. Pingback: Help wanted | John Manders' Blog

  101. Pingback: The mighty Alcuin | John Manders' Blog

  102. Pingback: We’re going to need more books | John Manders' Blog

  103. Pingback: Uncials | John Manders' Blog

  104. Pingback: The Style Book of Alcuin | John Manders' Blog

  105. Pingback: Same words, different tune | John Manders' Blog

  106. Pingback: Alcuin solves the problem | John Manders' Blog

  107. Pingback: Polyphony | John Manders' Blog

  108. Pingback: Charlemagne’s culture boom | John Manders' Blog

  109. Pingback: Higher education | John Manders' Blog

  110. Pingback: Okay, only some people read | John Manders' Blog

  111. Pingback: A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court | John Manders' Blog

  112. Pingback: From their lips to God’s ears | John Manders' Blog

  113. Pingback: Tall & skinny | John Manders' Blog

  114. Pingback: Black Letter | John Manders' Blog

  115. Pingback: How barbaric | John Manders' Blog

  116. Pingback: Last night I dreamt I read Manders’ blog again | John Manders' Blog

  117. Pingback: And more Goth | John Manders' Blog

  118. Pingback: A fine romance | John Manders' Blog

  119. Pingback: Another monopoly on communications | John Manders' Blog

  120. Pingback: There are bad times just around the corner | John Manders' Blog

  121. Pingback: The Mongolian Empire! | John Manders' Blog

  122. Pingback: Rats and fleas | John Manders' Blog

  123. Pingback: Doom | John Manders' Blog

  124. Pingback: The Dance of Death | John Manders' Blog

  125. Pingback: The Peasant’s Revolt | John Manders' Blog

  126. Pingback: Martin Luther | John Manders' Blog

  127. Pingback: Honey, I started the Reformation | John Manders' Blog

  128. Pingback: Relief printing | John Manders' Blog

  129. Pingback: How block printing is done | John Manders' Blog

  130. Pingback: That one afternoon hanging out at the winery really paid off | John Manders' Blog

  131. Pingback: The Chinese invent movable type | John Manders' Blog

  132. Pingback: Thanks, Phoenicians! | John Manders' Blog

  133. Pingback: What’s metal type made of? | John Manders' Blog

  134. Pingback: Casting metal type | John Manders' Blog

  135. Pingback: Composing type | John Manders' Blog

  136. Pingback: This ink is all wrong | John Manders' Blog

  137. Pingback: How to get better ink: Step One | John Manders' Blog

  138. Pingback: How to get better ink: Step Two | John Manders' Blog

  139. Pingback: How to get better ink: Step Three | John Manders' Blog

  140. Pingback: Step Four: we got better ink! | John Manders' Blog

  141. Pingback: PAPER! | John Manders' Blog

  142. Pingback: Deckle and mold | John Manders' Blog

  143. Pingback: Paper or parchment? | John Manders' Blog

  144. Pingback: Any rags? | John Manders' Blog

  145. Pingback: The proud tradition of not making money in publishing | John Manders' Blog

  146. Pingback: Going viral 1517-style | John Manders' Blog

  147. Pingback: Arrivederci, Rome | John Manders' Blog

  148. Pingback: Frontier poetry | John Manders' Blog

  149. Pingback: Beowulf in one sentence | John Manders' Blog

  150. Pingback: The Canterbury Tales | John Manders' Blog

  151. Pingback: The Norman Conquest and all that | John Manders' Blog

  152. Pingback: La Chanson de Roland | John Manders' Blog

  153. Pingback: The once and future blog post | John Manders' Blog

  154. Pingback: Geoffrey of Monmouth | John Manders' Blog

  155. Pingback: Le Morte d’Arthur | John Manders' Blog

  156. Pingback: The printing press comes to England | John Manders' Blog

  157. Pingback: Aubrey Beardsley | John Manders' Blog

  158. Pingback: Yes, I’m a King Arthur geek | John Manders' Blog

  159. Pingback: El Cid | John Manders' Blog

  160. Pingback: A tiny little sermonette from your old Uncle John | John Manders' Blog

  161. Pingback: Don Quixote | John Manders' Blog

  162. Pingback: The first one gets to choose | John Manders' Blog

  163. Pingback: Format | John Manders' Blog

  164. Pingback: Pages & leaves | John Manders' Blog

  165. Pingback: Folios and quartos | John Manders' Blog

  166. Pingback: Baby books | John Manders' Blog

  167. Pingback: This isn’t what I’m used to | John Manders' Blog

  168. Pingback: Nicolas Jenson | John Manders' Blog

  169. Pingback: Most Serene! | John Manders' Blog

  170. Pingback: …And we pass the savings on to you, our customer | John Manders' Blog

  171. Pingback: Aldus Manutius | John Manders' Blog

  172. Pingback: Francesco Griffo | John Manders' Blog

  173. Pingback: Who owns what you create? | John Manders' Blog

  174. Pingback: It’s okay to speak your own language now | John Manders' Blog

  175. Pingback: Citation, please! | John Manders' Blog

  176. Pingback: It was a big deal | John Manders' Blog

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