Saturday, September 04, 2004

I came across a letter to Fr. Ong from the famous New Critic Bill Wimsatt. Well, actually, there are a number of letters both to and from Wimsatt, but I found one in particular worth noting. It's part of an exchange of letters between the two while Fr. Ong is doing his dissertation research in France. (Wimsatt was putting together a pannel for the 1952 English Instutute at Columbia University and Ong agreed to present. Ong's paper, which someone delivered for him as Ong was able to extend his time in France, was titled "Ramus: the Clunch Fist of Method"* and was eventually published as "Ramus: Rhetoric and the Pre-Newtonian Mind.) In this letter Wimsatt refers to the fallout over William F. Buckley's book God and Man at Yale in which Buckley more or less accuses Yale of being populated by atheists and socialists.

*At one point, Fr. Ong intended to use the title The Clunch Fist of Method: Ramus, Topical Logic, and the Hollows of the Mind for what became Ramus, Method, and the Decay of Dialogue.

I guess I could note here that there is a letter to Ong from McLuhan in which McLuhan suggests Ong consider attending Yale for his Ph.D. in order to study under Wimsatt. While at Saint Louis University, McLuhan wasn't doing media studies. Rather, he infused life into the program by bringing New Criticism/Practical Criticism with him from Cambridge.


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