Posts Tagged ‘Ong


Ong’s Ramus, Method, and the Decay of Dialogue

Walter Ong
Ramus, Method, and the Decay of Dialogue
Area: History of Rhetoric and Memory Studies
From Robert Clement’s Review

•    Ramus, Method, and the Decay of Dialogue is divided into four parts of varying length.
o    The first (“Issues”) presents the essential facts of Ramus’s career and dwells upon the famous M.A. thesis which was to demolish Aristotle-and which legend has him defending valiantly against attacks from all quarters.
o    Part II (“Background”) is a flashback to the scholastic, humanistic, and pedagogical background into which Ramus was born.
o    The third section (“Ramism”) is a detailed explanation of Ramus’s dialectic and method, from its first elaboration in his various works through the attacks launched against it to its final revisions. In this section stylistics and rhetoric assume important roles.
o    Part IV (“Sequel”) concerns itself with the spread and modifications of Ramism. “The internal structure and development of the Ramist outlook advertises particularly the mechanistic, quantitative bent in the scholastic mind, and calls attention to the importance of the scholastic arts course (and, indirectly, of the medical course) as against the scholastic theological course in the development of the sensibility of Western man.” (p. 306)
•    All in all, this careful book succeeds in correcting and expanding our knowledge of the thought and works of Ramus through a patient examination and rigid reconsideration of the source materials, old and new.
From T. K. Scott, JR.’s Review
•    Ramism is shown to have developed a tendency in scholastic logic to identify knowledge with teaching, and teaching with a simplified spatial approach to reality, a tendency which was reinforced by the diagrammatic tidiness made possible by letterpress printing.


Walker’s Rhetoric and Poetics in Antiquity

Jeffrey Walker
Rhetoric and Poetics in Antiquity
Area: Rhetorical and Critical Theory
From Kirby’s Review

•    An era obsessed with text and textuality, a book on rhetoric and poetics has emerged urgently central
•    Hesiod and Aristotle conceived of poetics in rhetorical terms
•    Walker’s interpretation of mimesis too narrow:
o    Doesn’t account for the verbal mimesis of poetry
o    The rhetor is performing a version of himself from a script provided by the logographer.  Rhetoric has mimetic aspects, just as Aristotelian mimesis is rhetorical
•    Walker misinterprets houtos ekenios:
o    Doesn’t refer to the noetic experience of poetry
o    Does mean the cognitive connection between visual images and the things they represent
•    While Walker tries to downplay the role of Aristotle, he relies heavily on the Aristotelian system
•    Throwback to Schiappa’s question of whether and how the naming of a thing alters our understanding of it
580: “what came to be called rhetoric was neither originally nor essentially an art of practical civic oratory-rather . . . it originated from an expansion of the poetic/epideictic domain, from ‘song’ to ‘speech’ to ‘discourse’ generally … although there certainly were changes in sociopolitical conditions and rhetorical practices, there was no ‘decline of rhetoric’ in any meaningful sense in either the Hellenistic or the Roman period” (ix). In parts 3 and 4 he develops “a notion of rhetorical poetics that can be found embodied in archaic poetry” and discusses “the gradual occlusion of this notion in the grammatical tradition and the ‘grammaticalized’ rhetoric and poetics transmitted from the Middle Ages to early modernity” (x).  This history is recounted from a “‘sophistic’ or neosophistic rather than a neo- Aristotelian perspective” (xi); as Walker says, Plato and Aristotle “play less central roles in my discussion than some readers might expect”
581: But for Walker, the Poetics embodies a “double vision” by which Aristotle, on the one hand, presupposes a “fundamentally rhetorical conception of poetic discourse” (281) while,  n the other, simultaneously occluding its “rhetorical, argumentative, suasory character.”
From Hill’s review:
•    A sophist’s history of rhetoric
From Enos’ review:
•    Rhetoric and poetry share a common origin and are tied together as epideictic discourse
•    Insofar as epideictic is the primary form of rhetoric, and poetry is the original and ultimate form of epideictic, poetry is also the original and ultimate form of rhetoric
•    This book would benefit by stressing how all oral poetry is rhythmical and how euphony is an important feature for memory and arrangement would help readers to understand what Ong calls the “psychodynamics” of orality
•    If rhetoric was in ‘decline’ (as many historians of rhetoric describe) whey does it actually prosper?


Ong’s Orality and Literacy

Walter Ong
Orality and Literacy: The Technologizing of the Word
Area: Digital Media

•    Difference between orality and literacy
o    Developed in electronic age, not earlier (second orality)
Chapter One: The Orality of Language
•    No one has figured out a way to write all the languages—orality is permanent
•    “Oral expression can exist and mostly has existed without any writing at all, writing never without orality.”
•    Aristotle’s “Art of Rhetoric”—rhetoric was/had to be a product of writing
•    After delivering a speech, nothing remained to work over
o    Disgracefully incompetent to recite text prepared in advance
o    Orally composed speeches treated as written texts
•    Primary Orality: culture untouched by knowledge of writing/text
•    Secondary Orality: present-day high-technology culture—depend on writing and print for their existence
•    Written words are residue ≠ orality has only the potential to be retold
•    “A literate person cannot fully recover a sense of what the word is to purely oral people”
•    Can’t describe a primary phenomenon by starting with a secondary one
•    Literacy, unless carefully monitored, destroys and restores memory
9: “Thus writing from the beginning did not reduce orality but enhanced it, making it possible to organize the ‘principles’ or constituents of oratory into a scientific ‘art,’ a sequentially ordered body of explanation that showed how and why oratory achieved and could be made to achieve its various specific effects.”
12: “Thinking of oral tradition or a heritage of oral performance genres and styles as ‘oral literature’ is rather like thinking of horses as automobiles without wheels.”
14-5: “Nevertheless, without writing, human consciousness cannot achieve its fuller potentials, cannot produce other beautiful and powerful creations.  In this sense, orality needs to produce and is destined to produce writing.  Literacy, as will be seen, is absolutely necessary for the development not only of science but also of history, philosophy, explicative understanding of literature and of any art, and indeed for the explanation of language.”
Chapter Three: Oral Memory
•    No way to verify the correctness of oral texts unless recited with someone
•    Twentieth Century bards: don’t repeat the same thing twice, but instead use the standard formulas in connection with standard themes
•    When retelling a story, it’s a recitation of themes and formulas variously built
o    (Joni: “Paint a Starry Night again, man!”)
•    When demand for printed book declines, presses stop but books remain (residue)
o    When market for oral genealogy disappears, so does the genealogy itself
•    Oral Memory: high somatic component
Chapter Four: Writing Restructures Consciousness
•    Writing has established autonomous or context-free discourse: detached from author
•    Plato: Phaedrus: “Writing is inhuman, pretending to establish outside the mind what in reality can only be in the mind”
o    Weaken the mind and memory
•    “Writing is passive.  So are computers.”
•    Idea/form is visually based
•    Oral: natural
•    Writing: artificial
•    Writing as leaving a mark (i.e. animal waste)
o    Development of coded system for exactness
•    Writing was/is most momentous of all technological inventions
•    The alphabet represents sound as a thing
•    High literacy = truly written composition = precisely a text
•    Orality knows no lists, charts, or figures
•    Texts assimilate utterance to the human body
•    Writing is an imitation of talking (diary = talking to myself)
•    “Art” of rhetoric, though concerned with oral speech, is a product of writing
78: “What functionally literate human beings really are: beings whose thought processes do not grow out of simply natural powers but out of these powers as structured, directly or indirectly, but the technology of writing.”
81: “Intelligence is relentlessly reflexive, so that even the external tools that it uses to implement its workings become ‘internalized,’ that is, part of its own reflexive process.”
91: “For the alphabet operates more directly on sound as sound than the other scripts, reducing sounds directly to spatial equivalents, and in smaller, more analytic, more manageable units that a syllabary: instead of one symbol for the sounds ba, your have two, b plus a.”
105: “By separating the knower from the known, writing makes possible increasingly articulate introspectivity, opening the psyche as never before not only to the external objective world quite distinct from itself but also to the interior self against whom the objective world is set.”
110-1: “From at least the time of Quintilian, loci communes was taken in two different senses.  First it referred to the ‘seats’ of arguments, considered as abstract ‘headings’ in today’s parlance, such as definition, cause, effect, opposites, likenesses, and so on. […]  Secondly, loci communes or commonplaces referred to collections of sayings (in effect, formulas) on various topics – such as loyalty, decadence, friendship, or whatever – that could be worked into one’s own speech-making or writing.  In this sense the loci communes can be styled ‘cumulative commonplaces.’
Chapter 7: Some theorems
•    Barthes: meaning of text is outside, in the reader
•    Derrida: writing isn’t a supplement to the written word, but a different performance altogether
o    In this way, Derrida aligns with McLuhan
•    Language and thought for the Greeks grew out of memory

July 2017
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