What accounts for the continued popularity of the macho image, the fanaticism of sports enthusiasts, the perennial appeal of Don Quixote's ineffectual struggles? Walter J. Ong addresses these and related questions as he offers new insights into the complex ways in which human life is affected by contest. Ong argues that the struggle for dominance, which he feels is crucial among higher animal species, is more immediately critical for males than for females, helping males to manage persistent insecurity and to establish sexual identity. The male agonistic drive finds an outlet in contests as diverse as football, cockfighting, and chess--the last, the ultimate intellectualization of formalized territorial combat. Demonstrating the importance of contest in biological evolution and in the growth of consciousness out of the unconscious, Ong shows how adversarial today's shifting patterns of contest in such arenas as spectator sports, politics, business, religion, academe, and the history of rhetoric. Human internalization of agonistic drives, he concludes, can foster the deeper discovery of the self and of distinctively human freedom.
In these studies Professor Ong explores some previously unexamined reasons for Hopkins' uniqueness, including unsuspected connections between nineteenth-century sensibility and certain substructures of Christian belief.General Manley Hopkins was not alone among Victorians in his attention to the human self and to the particularities of things in the world around him, where he savoured the 'selving or 'inscape' of each individual existent. But the intensity of his interest in the self, as a focus of exuberant joy as well as sometimes of anguish, both in his poetry and his prose, marks him out as unique even among his contemporaries. In these studies Professor Ong explores some previously unexamined reasons for Hopkins' uniqueness, including unsuspected connections between nineteenth-century sensibility and certain substructures of Christian belief.Hopkins was less interested in self-discovery or self-concept than in what might be called the confrontational or obtrusive self - the 'I,' ultimately nameless, that each person wakes up to in the morning to find simply there, directly or indirectly present in every moment of consciousness. Hopkins' concern with the self grew out of a nineteenth-century sensibility which was to give birth to modernity and postmodernity, and which in his case as a Jesuit was especially nourished by the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius Loyola, concerned at root with the self, free choice, and free self-giving. It was also nourished by the Christian belief in the Three Persons in One God, central to Hopkins' theology courses and personal speculation, and very notable in the Special Exercises. Hopkins appropriated and intensified his Christian beliefs with new nineteenth-century awareness: he writes of the 'selving' in God of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Hopkins' pastoral work, particularly in the confessional, dealing directly with other selves in terms of their free decisions, also gave further force to his preoccupation with the self and freedom. 'What I do,' he writes, 'is me.'Besides being concerned with the self, the most particular of particulars and the paradigm of all sense of 'presence,' the Spiritual Exercises in many ways attend to other particularities with an insistence that has drawn lengthy and rather impassioned commentary from the postmodern literary theorist Roland Barthes.Hopkins' distinctive and often precocious attention to the self and freedom puts him theologically far ahead of many of his fellow Catholics and other fellow Victorians, and gives him his permanent relevance to the modern and postmodern world.
In Interfaces of the World, Walter J. Ong explores the effects on consciousness of the word as it moves through oral to written to print and electronic culture.
This classic work explores the vast differences between oral and literate cultures and offers a brilliantly lucid account of the intellectual, literary and social effects of writing, print and electronic technology.
This is not a book on rhetoric in any narrow sense, but rather concerns its general ambiance and also some of its quite specific manifestations. The thirteen chapters that comprise the book move chronologically from the Renaissance up to the present time. Chapter 2 shows the continuity of verbal expression during the English Renaissance with earlier speech and thought patterns before the invention of writing. In the third chapter, a detailed report is given on the entire production of English-language books on rhetoric and poetic and literary criticism or theory during the Tudor age, from the late 15th through the beginning of the 17th century. The fourth chapter indicates the central significance of the art of memory. The chapters from 5 through 12 treat the interrelationships between social institutions and modes of thought and expression (Latin Language Study as a Renaissance Puberty Rite; Ramist Classroom Procedure and the Nature of Reality; Ramist Method and the Commercial Mind; Swift on the Mind: Satire in a Closed Field; Psyche and the Geometers; Associationist Critical Theory; J. S. Mill's Pariah Poet; Romantic Difference and the Poetics of Technology; and The Literate Orality of Popular Culture Today). The final chapter centers on the history of the humanities to show that they have not been the same in all ages, and that they are always in a state of crisis.
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