Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Words are things

With the development of print, Western culture moved even further away from a hearing dominated sensory world to one governed by sight.

More than writing, "print suggests that words are things" says Walter J. Ong's in his book Orality and Literacy. With the interiorization of this view writing/printing was no longer done with the intent to recycle knowledge back into the spoken world (as it was in, for example, Medieval university disputations); things were no longer necessarily written in order to be read out loud.

In addition, print embedded the word in space more absolutely than did writing . Through print, words become things that can be arranged on a page as they are in indexes, tables of content, lists and labels (an extreme example being the arrangement of w ords in the poetry of e.e. cummings).

Finally, Ong suggests that print encourages closure, a feeling of finality that was never present in, for example, oral storytelling.
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