Writing as Thing and Event

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The average person does not give much thought to the way we perceive speaking and writing: event or thing? Writing and speaking It is so innate, or as Ong says of writing “deeply interiorized” in most of us that we use these methods of communication every day without considering what it means for how we communicate and even perceive ourselves and others. Ong describes writing itself as a technology which changes how we look at words in general whether spoken or written. These ideas can particularly be applied to computers and internet technology as methods of communication. Ong makes the statement that writing is a thing as opposed to an event. Writing seems to be an extension of speech that makes it more permanent. To Ong speech is ephemeral and fleeting. Once something is spoken it is gone, an event past. Speech when put into words takes on a physicality, as a thing and thus permanency. Spoken words end and can be later forgotten. Written words can last as long as the material that holds them but the form of words as speech can only last as long as the words speaker issues them.. While Ong makes the the claim that the writing is not an event the claim can also be supported that both the written word and speech are events. Both communicate something in a certain place and time though their permanency is certainly different. To support that speech is an event Ong later makes the statement that speech is produced in a certain time, addressed by and for living persons, because the setting is “more than a context of words.” Writing has these characteristics as well, however, though Ong makes the distinction that writers must fictionalize an audience and a setting which disputes the claim that writing is an event.... ... middle of paper ... ...e physical nature of writing has many repercussions for the transmission of ideas. Today it is impossible to imagine society without writing. We have volumes and volumes of literature preserved from ages past whether in science, history or religion. In an oral society this would not be possible The preservation of these works has enabled us to advance with each generation since. While Plato may not have appreciated writing as a useful tool it nonetheless has enabled us to study his works with an accuracy memory alone could not provide. Records in themselves are an important part of our functioning society, whether genealogical or financial. Works Cited Citations Ong, Walter J. Orality and Literacy: The Technologizing of the Word. London: Routledge, 1982. Saenger, Paul. Space Between Words: The Origins of Silent Reading. Sanford: Stanford Univ. Press, 1997.

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