Throughout the essay “The Consequences of Literacy” by Jack Goody and Walter Ian and the novel “Orality and Literacy” by Walter J. Ong there are several reoccurring themes. The mention of cultural identity, history, language as an “oral phenomenon”, speech art, consciousness, memory, education, religion, sound, and the effect of writing on cultures. Identically in both readings raises the question “This new technology know as writing, has it advanced us or left us as unknowledgeable souls unconsciously aware of the troubles it has brought?”
In the reading Ong introduces that writing is a “compliment to oral speech, not as a transformer of verbalization.” Ong goes on to express how “language is nestled in the sound” The notion that speaking is an intimate form of expression that is revealed through the soul. Likewise, there is uniqueness in hearing someone speak; it is far greater than just words, the words become melodies, which is “speech art” There is a notable difference in “spoken language” than in “written language”. Words on a paper are nothing but just words on a paper however words uttered holds richness in melodies that reawaken the soul. Spoken words are alive and meaningful rather than just words written in a book tucked away waiting to be reborn. At the same time Ong believed “thus writing from the beginning did not reduce orality but enhanced it” unfortunately in todays time writing has suffered some setbacks because of texting. Texting has in away effaced words. Thus words have become somewhat meaning less and abbreviated. For example, texting someone you are on your way it would be “OMW (on my way), “TTYL” (talk to you later) Another important example is that of the dictionary, “it is demoralizing to remind oneself that there is no dictionary in the mind.” It reminds us that one of the ways to gain knowledge is through reading.
Finally, what I have gathered is that, there is an unfortunate dilemma with our writing today. Ong noticed early on that “ literacy though it consumes its own oral antecedents and, unless it is carefully monitored, even destroys their memory, it is infinitely adaptable. It can restore their memory too.” There is a tragic discourse in our society with memorization, storytelling, and speaking because we have not paid much attention to it that it has destroyed us but we can save ourselves. It is with this he says, “ We have to die to continue living.”