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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 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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