Aug 15, 2007
I was thinking about rhymes - not poetry, necessarily, but just rhyming, and how it originated in our history, in our language.
Marshall McLuhan provides a clue, as he does for so much in communication: lots of things that we regard as art forms or sports, McLuhan says, started out as very practical technologies. For example, horseback riding was once just a practical way to travel. The automobile made horseback riding into a sport, even an art-form.
I first heard McLuhan say this back in the mid-1970s. Since then, I've come with examples of my own. For example - delicatessen. Ham and corned beef started out as ways of preserving meats. Once refrigeration came along, we no longer needed that spicing for preservation - but we liked the taste so much, we kept on eating and enjoying the delicatessen - it had become an art form. Or take convertible cars: in the days before air conditioning, we rolled the roof down to keep cool. Now we don't need to do that to be cool, physically - but we like our convertibles because we look cool, driving around in them.
And rhyme? Well, think about it. Before writing was invented, our ancestors had to rely completely upon their memories. In these oral cultures, anything that enhanced the power of memory, helped it work better, was welcome.
Rhymes ... the Velcro of the mind...