By Walter J. Ong

ISBN-10: 0415281296

ISBN-13: 9780415281294

This vintage paintings explores the titanic adjustments among oral and literate cultures supplying a really transparent account of the highbrow, literary and social results of writing, print and digital know-how. during his research, Walter J. Ong deals attention-grabbing insights into oral genres around the globe and during time, and examines the increase of summary philosophical and clinical considering. He considers the influence of orality-literacy stories not just on literary feedback and thought yet on our very knowing of what it really is to be a person, aware of self and other.This is a booklet no reader, author or speaker will be with no.

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Sample text

A hunter can see a buffalo, smell, taste, and touch a buffalo when the buffalo is completely inert, even dead, but if he hears a buffalo, he had better watch out: something is going on. In this sense, all sound, and especially oral utterance, which comes from inside living organisms, is ‘dynamic’. The fact that oral peoples commonly and in all likelihood universally consider words to have magical potency is clearly tied in, at least unconsciously, with their sense of the word as necessarily spoken, sounded, and hence power-driven.

Writing fosters abstractions that disengage knowledge from the arena where human beings struggle with one another. It separates the knower from the known. By keeping knowledge embedded in the human lifeworld, orality situates knowledge within a context of struggle. Proverbs and riddles are not used simply to store knowledge but to engage others in verbal and intellectual combat: utterance of one proverb or riddle challenges hearers to top it with a more apposite or a contradictory one (Abrahams 1968; 1972).

Murko had recognized the absence of exact verbatim memory in oral poetry of such cultures. More importantly, Marcel Jousse, the Jesuit priest and scholar, who had been reared in a residually oral peasant milieu in France and who spent most of his adult life in the Middle East soaking up its oral culture, had sharply differentiated the oral composition in such cultures from all written composition. Jousse (1925) had styled oral cultures and the personality structures they produced verbomoteur (‘Verbomotor’—regrettably, Jousse’s work has not been translated into English; see Ong 1967b, pp.

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Orality and Literacy by Walter J. Ong


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