epics and oral traditions

Dominique.Thillaud thillaud at unice.fr
Sat Jun 7 09:02:47 UTC 1997

At 20:18 +0200 6/06/97, Birgit Kellner wrote:

>What Parry did ...
>... Such an inquiry can be applied to any written text, regardless of its
>... Pragmatics are only relevant to *how* the
>process of writing down took place, to *how* the original oral "text"
>was memorized, by whom, etc.

	We don't talk about the same *pragmatic*. For me, pragmatic is the
others than linguistical effects produced by the talking. When I say: 'I
swear I ...', that's not just a phrase, but an oath. A prayer, too, is not
just a text!
	The importance of exact utterance is absolute and a special priest
(I don't have his name at hand) is charged to detect any error.
	But the job of a bard is to relate the same *story*, not necessarly
with the same *words*. When I was recounting a liked fairy tale to my
children, they accepted many changes (even additions of minor episods) but
NO changes of characters or main story.
	The ritual is not the same thing: your lawyers are (in movies)
everytime saying 'objection!', never 'I don't agree!'.

>The question about Renou is not whether he was right or wrong, but how
>he went about establishing his claims - that is (to repeat), whether he
>and other Vedicists ever took Parry's work into account (whether they
>subsequently found it inapplicable or not is an entirely different

	I think that's a professional deformation of many scholars: they
believe they must say absolutely everything about a subject, even
irrelevant. They hope to become THE reference, but they become just
unreadable ...

>(2) About mnemotechnics ...
>(Even the Chinese mentioned
>by Dan Lusthaus could only verify the amazing memory of the pundit by
>having people write the recitation down. By the way, how slow did he
>have to speak so that they could follow him? Or were their writing
>skills as fascinating as the pundit's memory? Just wondering)

	It seems to me that Dan Lusthaus said *verifying*

>(3) About amazing memories etc.
>I myself am rather sceptical about amazing memory feats of
>some legendary past, and would prefer diligent anthropological studies
>carried out amongst those communities that, nowadays, are reknown for
>their amazing textual memories (Tibetan monks or Dan Lusthaus' Koreans).
>Are there any such studies?

	You underestimate gravely human memory capacities, because they are
actually lost today in all the world (from more than a century, ALL the
bards have received the visit of a scholar with paper or tapes and they are
not stupid). Training the memory is a very hard and long education who
begin at an early age and, for priestes, each prayer is repeated each day,
more than ten years along. Fortunately there is today an other job who
begin at an early age and need an each day training: music. And exist
maestri who can dirige all the Wagner's Ring without a partition and EACH
Heldentenor is able to sing the role of Tristan (a very long TEXT) without
any error. Few years ago I'have seen a very young german tenor with a fine
voice but unable to read a partition, who had learned the Traviata just
hearing it.
	But I suppose if no scholar had make a thesis about that, with an
exemplar in each university library, you'll say me that's not proved ...

	Best regards,

Dominique THILLAUD
Universite' de Nice Sophia-Antipolis, France

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