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Ong, Walter

             In Chapter Two, Ong predominantly discusses the findings of Milman Parry regarding the composition of Homeric poetry. Parry exposes the repetitive formulas, the recurring themes and the re-constituted "old set of expressions"(23) that inhabited the work of Homer, and in doing this proves that Homer was not literate but utilised a complex web of mnemonic devices to construct his creations. Ong links Parry's discoveries to primary orality in general and espouses that for knowledge to survive in oral cultures people had to employ structures to provide easier memorisation.
             Additionally, in this chapter, Ong proposes that in moving from primary orality to literacy there is a definite restructuring of consciousness. He notes that early written pieces (and he cites poetry as an example), imitate their oral predecessors, thereby suggesting that the change in consciousness was a gradual process. Nevertheless, Ong clearly sees a divide between the thought processes engaged in by members of a primary oral culture and members of a literate culture.
             In Chapter Three Ong expands his discussion on the structured patterns inherent in orality. An examination is also made of some of the features of orally based thought and expression, while concurrently a comparison is provided to the thoughts processes and expressions connected with literacy. In this discussion Ong repeatedly infers that orality is the more natural form of expression when compared to the written form, although at no stage does he espouse that orality is superior to literacy or vice versa. Rather, orality, Ong suggests, could be viewed as a small step away from human existence and experience while writing is a further step away again. Similarly, he proposes that orality unites people while writing/reading distances the individual as they enter their own private world.
             Ong, Walter J. Interfaces of the Word. Studies in the Evolution of Consciousness and Culture.

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