Cultural Codes

Reading and writing involve so many of the cultural codes that Barthes discusses. We are all so familiar with the paragraph, the page with printed text flowing across it, the feeling of holding a pile of books in our arms. Picking up a 7"X10" object that is closed on the left-hand side and open on the right-hand side to reveal a neat stream of text is almost as familiar to readers and writers as the air we breathe. As we read, we recognize the familiar format: title page, publication information, introduction, chapters, information about the author. At a higher level, we read and write the familiar literary techniques of deduction, rhetoric, contrast, word-painting, character portrayal, personification, and slowing down the narrative for the author to insert a pearl of wisdom.