The origin of modern individual consciousness: not perhaps Shakespeare (sorry Harold Bloom) but rather the humble space:
In the course of researching modern camel case, I stumbled across the medieval phenomenon of run-together text, formally known as scriptura continua, and could not resist chasing it down the rabbit hole. The pioneer and dean of this paleographic subfield is Paul Saenger. As I explain in my article, Saenger believes that the introduction of space between words in the seventh and eighth centuries laid the psychic groundwork for modern individual consciousness—that most of the intellectual breakthroughs that Marshall McLuhan credited to Gutenberg are more properly to be attributed to monks in Ireland and England […]
I like this twist. There’s a whole huge section on Irish monks in Alex Wright’s book Glut, and of course you know The Irish Saved Civilization. (Note the one-star comments.) What I like about this new angle is that we’re not relying on the Irish monks to save civilization—just transform it.
It’s not just spaces between words, either; it’s also silent reading. More to say about this at some point.