Answers to Ong-Chapter 4 (Rownak & Jodianne)

1. Writing restructures consciousness. What is meant by this? Name one way in which this takes place.

-What is meant by writing restructuring consciousness in the book is that it transforms speech, as well as thought. In our point of view, writing heightens and redefines understanding of the subject. It also gives you a clear and a newer perspective of the idea. The author goes on to touch upon the conception that writing weakens the mind. He includes Platonic thoughts about how memorization and the ability to respond to the queries of the reader is lost in the process of writing.

2. Explain what becomes possible as an effect of writing that is not an effect of print. How does writing change the oral mind.

3. How does the relationship to time change? To dating? How does the relationship to the self change?

-Writing offers a sense of immortality to the writer’s work. Writing can be preserved for decades and centuries, connecting readers on an emotional and intellectual level to their ancestors from a completely different age and state of mind. It also changes the way that one views their own ideas. Once you put down something on paper, you can also sense and are aware, even if on a subconscious level, of the immortality which is assigned to your writing. A writer will start to realize their own potentials and importance through the process of writing.

4. How does consciousness change as an effect of print?

-The consciousness of human civilization changed through the incorporation of a sense of time and place as an effect of the introduction of print. We are now more aware of our surroundings as a community. There would be no reason to have understanding or the idea of importance

5. In what ways is writing a very special case in the way it relates to rhetoric and learned Latin?

-Writing relates to rhetoric through the art of persuading your reader of your ideas and thoughts. As Plato suggested in his famous book, The Phaedrus, a piece of writing does not have the ability to advocate it’s ideas to the reader if the reader were to disagree. The writer is very much aware of that and he/she puts all of their efforts into anticipating the questions and arguments that a reader may have. Plato uses rhetoric by advocating against writing in The Phaedrus. Latin, being one of the earliest forms of writing and literature in the western culture, has had a tremendous impact on our speech and style of writing over the centuries.

6. How is the novel and literature not an effect of rhetoric but it’s an effect of vernacular languages?

7. How is poetry a subset of rhetoric?

8. How is rhetoric male and literature female?

9. How did rhetoric get absorbed into literacy, leading to its demise?
-We have refashioned rhetoric to mean a study of how to write effectively. There was a drift of consciousness away from speaking to a more written system.

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