It is suggested that all written works, including this one, have dangerous implications to the vitality of an oral tradition and to the health of a civilization, particularly if they thwart the interest of a people in culture, and following Aristotle , the cathartic effects of culture. "It is written but I say unto you" is a powerful directive to Western civilization.
From the 2007 Voyageur Classics edition, pp. 19-20.
The history of Canada has been profoundly influenced by the habits of an animal which very fittingly occupies a prominent place on her coat of arms.Harold Innis
We have not yet realized that the Indian and his culture were fundamental to the growth of Canadian institutions.Harold Innis
Canada emerged as a political entity with boundaries largely determined by the fur trade. These boundaries included a vast north temperate land area extending from the Atlantic to the Pacific and dominated by the Canadian Shield. The present Dominion emerged not in spite of geography but because of it.Harold Innis
The significance of a basic medium to its civilization is difficult to appraise since the means of appraisal are influenced by the media, and indeed the fact of appraisal appears to be peculiar to certain types of media. A change in the type of medium implies a change in the type of appraisal and hence makes it difficult for one civilization to understand another.Harold Innis
The mixture of the oral and the written traditions in the writings of Plato enabled him to dominate the history of the West.Harold Innis
The effect of the discovery of printing was evident in the savage religious wars of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Application of power to communication industries hastened the consolidation of vernaculars, the rise of nationalism, revolution, and new outbreaks of savagery in the twentieth century.Harold Innis
We must appraise civilization in relation to its territory and in relation to its duration. The character of the medium of communication tends to create a bias in civilization favourable to an over-emphasis on the time concept or on the space concept and only at rare intervals are the biases offset by the influence of another medium and stability achieved.Harold Innis
The discovery of printing in the middle of the fifteenth century implied the beginning of a return to a type of civilization dominated by the eye rather than the ear.Harold Innis
The full impact of printing did not become possible until the adoption of the Bill of Rights in the United States with its guarantee of freedom of the press. A guarantee of freedom of the press in print was intended to further sanctify the printed word and to provide a rigid bulwark for the shelter of vested interests.Harold Innis
The Middle Ages burned its heretics and the modern age threatens them with atom bombs.Harold Innis
Industrialism implies technology and the cutting of time into precise fragments suited to the needs of the engineer and the accountant.Harold Innis
The overwhelming pressure of mechanization evident in the newspaper and the magazine, has led to the creation of vast monopolies of communication. Their entrenched positions involve a continuous, systematic, ruthless destruction of elements of permanence essential to cultural activity.Harold Innis
Following the invention of writing, the special form of heightened language, characteristic of the oral tradition and a collective society, gave way to private writing. Records and messages displaced the collective memory. Poetry was written and detached from the collective festival.Harold Innis