The poets learned the technology of writing from the accountants and state legislators.
While the poets predated the accountants, legislators and writing, the philosophers emerged after the technology of writing was discovered. With writing comes a kind of fixity, a physical fixity on the page,
Writing creates Reason. Writing makes possible what appears as a higher magnitude of thought: lengthy argumentation. Symbolic logic, mathematics, and the heavy books of the well known philosophers are not so much testaments to men's thinking, but examples of the elaborate constructions possible with the technology of writing. Men believed they had made discoveries about themselves and the world when in fact they had constructed idols of thought. Statues. Memorials. Stone and iron wrought structures to be erected in the town square and admired by all.
The legible individual arises from work. Man worked so hard to make the land farmable, to kill and chase away the animals, to cut down the forests, to care for his crops, that he declared this land to be his own. An excess of work creates the idea of possession. "This farm is mine," he says. "These crops are mine. I have worked so hard to grow them." And from this simple first idea of possession the philosophers who come later will say, "This mind is my own. These thoughts are my own. I have thought so hard to discover them." The accountants and state legislators made legible the farms and the stored grain surpluses, declaring they belonged to this man or that man, and then in a similar way the philosophers made legible the man himself, declaring these ideas belong to this man, this man to possess these characteristics. Legibility was foremost a technology of identification for the purpose of ownership.
Dodds writes of the early Greeks as attributing to the gods the dramatic outbursts of men. Madness was believed to be something divine. A horrific murder was believed to be the result of a god entering and acting through a man. The idea of total responsibility for each man--that a man should be in possession of every one of his acts--was not known to the ancients.
The legible individual is the man who possesses himself. He has made himself into an accountants ledger of characteristics and histories and beliefs, of likes and dislikes, of addresses and bank account numbers and balances and credit scores.
To have an identity is not different than owning a farm.
The technologies that came after the advent of farming were all to better it and make it more efficient. With the coincident idea of the legible individual--the man in possession of himself--technologies also appeared to make men more efficient in the possession of themselves. The computer is used to expand the state, enable more surplus, but also to assist men in making themselves more legible to themselves (and to the State) as individuals.
Men domesticate themselves with legibility just as the first farmers cut down the forests and annihilated the animals who threatened their crop.
Strangely, the brain shrinks in size as the man becomes more reliant on his technology. The brain is finally left with lesser functioning. Men remember less. The supposed organ of man's individuality is rendered useless. Man becomes all men, all working men. His legibility to himself no longer matters to him.
The future of man is work. He will no longer be an individual. The epoch of the legible individual will pass as only his work gives him definition. Then, finally, he will no longer even think of his work as what he is. The autistic is one step in this becoming. The autistic examines computer code for errors out of some obsession; not for pay, not for the hoarding of surplus fiat currency for the purchase gadgets and vacations. The autistic is the first step in the annihilation of the individual.
Legibilities change the world. It does not matter whether a new legibility, a new word and idea,
makes sense or is logical. Legibility was never about logic. This is the failing of the philosophers.
Legibility first appeared as accounting and statebuilding. It was only after its appearance that the oral singers and poets took it up and applied it to their art. Perhaps the philosophers were an offshoot of the first lawyers and politicians (Plato). The philosophers, like the poets, had previously not written anything down.
And "by writing it down" philosophy and poetry took the form of accounting and gave themselves up to state oversight and a general feeling of reasonableness and the personal triumph that accompanies this feeling. The introduction of writing to poetry and philosophy allowed for a whole vocabulary of new legibility within these areas which became known as disciplines with their own practitioners and schools and diplomas, and a whole infrastructure of legibility grew up around them. Philosophy and poetry could now aspire to the rigor of the state's laws.
Legibility promotes a reasonableness that fascinates certain men.
There could be no legibility before the first farmer. There was no legible individual before the first farmer.
The farmer became a legible individual by way of his work, his many hours of toil in the fields, which, formerly being forested and filled with animals, he transformed into a new vision of the earth. The farmer worked from dawn to dusk while the hunter sat by idly watching from the forest. The farm was the farmer's own. It was made his own by all the work he put into it. He must protect the result of all his work. It seems the notion of possession begins with the idea of protecting what one has toiled for. No one is really attached to that which comes to them by accident, or is granted to all men by the gods as an abundance. But what one has had to work long for one has a strong attachment: Possession.