Writing was initially affected by orality. That is, it was formulaic and worked to convey the story or message through such formulas as rhythm, repetition, structured organization, etc. This is a sort of residual orality that manifested in the literary style. Eventually, writing became more flowing prose and literature as we realized the freedom of writing since it enhanced (killed?) memory. By this I mean it was no longer necessary to organize content in such an structured, formulaic manner for the sake of recalling it. Then, we became oral again with the advent of TV, radio, electronic orality, etc. Read the rest of this entry »
“Without writing, words have no visual presence, even when the objects they represent are visual. They are sounds. …. [S]ound has a special relationship to time, unlike that of other fields registered by human sensation. Sound exists only when it is going out of existence.” (Orality and Literacy, 31-2).
Unlike a moving picture, which can be stopped on a single frame, one cannot stop sound and have sound. In most situations, pausing a moment in an audio recording produces silence, not in indefinitely sustained note. However, one could stop on a single note of music or a single syllable of speech, and extend that one moment of sound indefinitely. Read the rest of this entry »
“Fortunately, literacy, though it consumes its own oral antecedents and, unless it is carefully monitored, even destroys their memory, is also infinitely adaptable. It can restore their memory, too. Literacy can be used to reconstruct for ourselves, the pristine human consciousness which was not literate at all.” (Orality and Literacy. 15).
This is the continuation of the discussion on memory (see post on 11.13.2007) and how literacy can kill it (since we no longer have to remember so much, but can merely write it down for later recall). Ong also presents the converse in that literacy can enhance the memory.
This too, is something that digital orality can do: Read the rest of this entry »
Among other classical rhetors, Plato greatly downplays the worth of the written text, believing it is an approximation of orality and that orality is an approximation of thinking. He considers writing an unnatural method of recording knowledge. Additionally, he argues that it brings forgetfulness, killing memory, and that it is good for reminder but not for memory. Read the rest of this entry »
In some ways New Media (NM) and Digital Orality (see previous post What is Digital Orality?) are more examples in Ong’s concept of secondary oralities that are present in the electronic age, considering many new technologies, such as Voip and Tivo, are extensions of some tools to which Ong referred. In “Orality and Literacy,” (1982) Ong wrote:
“Our Understanding of the difference between orality and literacy developed only in the electronic age, not earlier. …. The electronic age is also an age of ‘secondary orality’, the orality of telephones, radio, and television, which depends on writing and print for existence.” (pgs. 2-3).
Discussing the place of orality in New Media (NM), I considered whether we are now in place that is still part of Ong’s “secondary orality,” or if the advancements we’ve made place us in a post-secondary orality, a new and different level of orality to such an extent that it requires a new category. Read the rest of this entry »