Friday, November 26, 2004

On Tuesday (23 Nov.), I came across Ong's 3rd edition (1899) of Bright's Anglo-Saxon Reader. My first graduate class in Old English used the 3rd ed, second corrected printing (1971) with the modern title of Bright's Old English Grammar & Reader. (I used Mitchell and Robinson's A Guide to Old English 5th ed. in my undergraduate independent study and in my 2nd quarter OE class at Portland State and in my OE class here at SLU, not that anyone will care). Any way, pasted into the first page of section of Ohtere and Wulfstan's voyages is a map, complete with Old English names, Ong had adapted from Bosworth's map in 1854 edition of Alfred's Orosius. I've already talked to John Waide about scanning this and putting it up on the Web site once we begin doing such things. And I plan on including it in the exhibit I'll be putting together in mid-April.

I also came across Ong's copy of J.R.R. Tolkien and R.V. Gordon's Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (still the standard scholarly edition of the poem), which is also heavily annotated. According to Ong's notes, annotations include notes from Francis P. Magoun, Jr.'s lectures. I never realized Magoun was one of Ong's professors, and it's likely Ong also took Old English and Beowulf from Magoun, a fact which I'm looking into.

This Magoun connection is quite fascinating. Not only is Magoun the supposed source for the cartoon character Mr. Magoo, he's also the first scholar to apply the Parry-Lord approach to Old English poetry with the 1953 publication of "The Oral-Formulaic Character of Anglo-Saxon Narrative Poetry" (Speculum 28: 446-67), which I know because it through this article that I was introduced to oral-formulaic theory and, in turn, Ong's own work. According to Foley, while Magoun first published the article on oral-formula in OE in 1953 based upon Lord's recently finished dissertation (which was published as The Singer of Tales in 1960), Magoun was close "to conceiving of an oral tradition of Old English poetry fully twenty-four years before his seminal article of 1953" with the publication of "Recurring First Elements in Different Nominal Compounds in Beowulf and in the Elder Edda" (Studies in English Philology: A Miscellany in Honor of Frederick Klæber. Ed. Kemp Malone and Martin B. Ruud. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 1929. 73-78).

While it was not oral-formulaic theory itself that sparked Ong's first insight into the increasing visual turn connected to print culture, and it's no secret that Ong has relied heavily upon Parry and Lord as early pioneers in the technologizing of the word, I wonder just how much Ong's own insight while reading Rudol Bultmann in the Bibliothèque nationale would have occurred without the classes from Magoun? Something we'll never know, obviously. Or it might be more accurate to reflect upon the milieu at Harvard while Ong was there -- Milman Parry and Albert Lord working on oral-formulaic theory, Magoun working on it independently and then adapting the Parry-Lord approach, Parry Miller and his knowledge of Ramus.... I mention all of this because when Ong asked McLuhan for advice on Ph.D. programs, McLuhan suggested Ong go to Yale to study under Wimsatt.

Any way, back to Gawain. As I turned over the flyleaf of Ong's SGGK, I was greeted by the face of the Jolly Green Giant. I unfolded the large ad to find an advert for frozen corn from the 60s or 70s. At the top read "Frozen corn-on-the-cob that tastes like fresh? Shucks, yes!" Beside that, Ong had written "Live even though it's dead." I've seen the Jolly Green Giant thousands of times. I've loved and read and reread and even taught 3 times SGGK, but I'd never made the Jolly Green Giant=Green Man=Green Knight connection before until I turned that page and saw the JGG looking up at me. Ong, I'm told (and can see), was quite open to popular culture and made such connections all the time.

Near the end of the day, I took a break and peeked into the back recesses of some of the smaller filing cabinets and found:

  • An envelope of 20+ library cards from North American and European libraries (I didn't work through them systematically so it's possible there are card from other parts of the world as well).
  • 5 or 6 passports (again, I didn't look at them systematically, but I'm assuming it's all the passports Ong had over the years).
  • A pocket sized journal which Ong had titled "Route Book showing travels in the course of work in Europe March 1950-Nov. 1953: A record of places visited and of little else." I spent a few minutes flipping through it and It's pretty much what it claims to be, though it often mentions how he got from place to place and makes note of where he said Mass.

And, finally, I opened up what I thought was a box of books and found a number of files. Mostly it's drafts of and letters concerning Dennis L. Weeks and Jane Hoogestraat's Time, Memory, and the Verbal Arts: Essays on the Thought of Walter Ong and Bruce E. Gronbeck, Thomas J. Farrell, Paul A. Soukup's Media, Consciousness, And Culture : Explorations Of Walter Ong's Thought, but there's some work by Ong as well. I really didn't get time to look at them, but there was at least one folder labeled "inactive" and one folder labeled "doubtful but not inactive." In the "doubtful" folder was a series of lecture note cards from the 1950s and 60s, a two-page annotated list of possible chapters, and some other publications (not Ong's) for, I'm assuming, notes. The possible chapters pages were titled "The Apostolate of Discovery: The American Catholic Intellectual." I'm sure this will be more fodder for the idea I've been detailing here and there in this blog which I'd already begun calling "Ong's Theology of Discovery."

While Ong annotated extensively, he didn't annotate everything, and it's days like this that make up for the drudgery that scanning page after page of annotated text can be.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

I found a number of New and Practical Criticism books today, which isn't surprising as Marshall McLuhan brought the tradition to SLU when he taught here. They include 3 books by F.R. Leavis, which also isn't surprising considering that Leavis was McLuhan's teacher. What is interesting is that while books by Cleanth Brooks, Wayne Booth, T.S. Eliot, and I.A. Richards all have annotations and/or bookmarks in them, the Leavis books are unmarked.

Ong seems to have really liked Fouler's Linguistics and the Novel (part of the Routledge's New Accents series which also published Orality & Literacy) and he appears to have taught with it at least once.

I also came across Ong's heavily annotated edition of Klæber's Beowulf, the standard scholarly edition that I used inthe Beowulf class I took with Dr. Shippey.

And there's an interesting connection between the first and last item above. The reason I'm amused by the fact Ong hasn't annotated the Leavis books mainly stems from Shippey's reports of Leavis as an instructor: Shippey found Leavis so bad he went into philology/Medieval Studies track because it was the one section of the department at Cambridge that Leavis didn't have influence over.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

I found a box of AV materials including 4 reel-to-reel tapes which are supposedly a recording of a 200 level course Ong taught in the summer of 1971 titled "Polemic in Literature and Academic Tradition." There's also some audiocassettes, a VHS, and a betamax.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Some titles and citations I found working through the Ong collection that I might want to come back to:

Miall, David S. "The Library versus the Internet: Literary Studies Under Siege." PMLA 116.5 (2001): 1405-1414.

Hayles, N. Katherine. "The Condition of Virtuality." The Digital Dialectic: New Essays on New Media. Ed. Peter Lunenfeld. Cambridge: MIT Press, 1999. 24-45.

Van Peer, Willie. "Quantitative Studies of Literature: A Critique and an Outlook." Comptuers and the Humanities 23 (1989): 301-7.

Bevitt, Amy J. "Integrating Rhetorical and Literary Theories of Genre." CE 62.6 (2000): 696-718.

Hanko, Lauri, ed. Thick Corpus, Organic Variation and Textuality in Oral Traditions. Helsinki, Finland : Finnish Literature Society, 2000.

During M/MLA, I was asked if I'd come across any notes for a 2nd ed. of Orality & Literacy which Ong had supposedly be working on or at least thinking about a few years ago. I went digging in the boxes of papers which had been on Ong's desk and found a three page, single-spaced typescript and a series of letters to and from Routledge, all dating from July 2001 - Jan 2002. Routledge wanted to include Orality & Literacy in a reissue of the top ten bestsellers of the New Accents series to celebrate the series' 25 anniversary. The plan was to redesign the covers, provide a new General Editor's Preface, redo a new layout and design, and, if the individual authors wished, an updated bibliography and/or a new concluding chapter of no more than 5,000 words.

The typescript itself, which is dated 28 August 2001, is titled "Memos for 2nd edition of Orality and Literacy, and has two sections (page 3 ends with "III" indicating at least a 3rd section was intended). Section I begins with the comment that electronics has brought us into a new stage we might call "electronic verbalization" and makes the point that orality-literacy-electronic verbalization is not a linear progression from one stage to the next but instead, to use Bolter's term, each remediates the other (my use of Bolter here, Fr. Ong doesn't use remediate or refer to Bolter). The rest of this section, maybe 1 1/4 pages, discusses jazz and how the Polish Philological Institute in Lublin have been relating it to orality & literacy. Fr. Ong does make reference to the 1958 book Jam Session: An Anthology of Jazz, edited by Ralph J. Gleason. A contributor to the collection had given a copy of it to Fr. Ong, I think in the 1960s, but I'd need to check. The second part of the typescript focuses on memory and how in an oral culture it is effectiveness, not verbatium recall, that is important.

It's possible that there's more written, but I don't want to get anyone's hopes up. The letters and the typescript are all paper clipped together. However, he did send the piece to Routledge as "some memos that I have made for my own thinking" and there is the indication of a third section (the "III" at the bottom of page 3). I'm not yet formally working with the loose papers yet, so we'll have to wait to see if I find anything else yet (I've checked the filing cabinets and there's nothing on the revision there). There's also a CD-ROM of the files Fr. Ong had on his computer, which I've glanced over but will check again.

What may also be of note are some files towards the monograph Language as Hermeneutic: A Primer on the Word and Digitization, which was also the title of a class Fr. Ong taught in the late 80s or early 90s (I've come across a few syllabi). There's a series of chapters, some quite short and some long, which match up to a projected outline. There's some letters indicating Fr. Ong had contacted Harvard UP in 1990 about the project, and they indicate he intended the work to be similiar in size and scope of Havelock's The Muse Learns to Write. There's a note that the project was abandoned in 1994 and there's some hand-written calculations indicating it was at 30,000 words and that Havelock's book was 40,000 words.

I need to reread it, but "Hermeneutic Forever: Voice, Text, Digitization, and the 'I'" seems to be a condensed version of some of the ideas rather than a chapter lifted from the larger project. "Digitization, Ancient and Modern" also seems to be related as does "Information and/or Communication." There's also a folder with what appear to be various drafts or attempts at these three pieces as well as some other things. One
that caught my eye immediately was a response, or maybe a better term is riff, on Marry Carruthers' "Inventional Mnemonics and the Ornaments of Style: The Case of Etymology" which was published in Connotations: A Journal for Critical Debate 2.2 (1992): 103-114 (this article had been in among Fr. Ong's books). While I haven't read Fr. Ong's response yet, Carruthers does use the phrase "elaborately punning riffs of memory" in her article and Fr. Ong uses it as a opportunity to discuss improvisation and orality.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Browsing the shelves for another book, I came across

Jackson, H. J. Marginalia: Readers Writing in Books. Yale UP, 2001.

which is a study and theoretical discussion of marginalia. Six months ago, I might not have much cared about such a book, but Ong was an extensive annotator. Best of all, I've been told I can read the book on the clock.

Monday, November 15, 2004

The following is from a larger message regarding the possible inclusion of technology in a revised WPA Outcomes Statement which I sent to the WPA-L discussion list. Someone found this last paragraph important enough to repost on its own and it's suitably Ongian:

"We live in an every increasingly digital culture and many of our students, whether we like it or not, are digital in consciousness. Furthermore, the world in which they (and we) will live and compose in will be a digital one. Digital consciousness does not mean eliminating print based writing. Print based writing becomes part of the larger matrix of digitality, both shaping and being reshaped by digital practices. For me, at least, a technology outcomes statement deals not with tools for composing or discrete sets of skills like cutting and pasting or creating a spreadsheet, but in coming to terms with the potentialities and constraints digital composing tools bring to the table."

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Philip Marchand's review of Robert Bringhurst's book The Solid Form Of Language: An Essay On Writing And Meaning.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

I came across some unpublished lectures and articles from the mid 90s, which I'll go back and look at later. Two titles of note are "Secondary Orality and Secondary Visusalism" and "Orality, Textuality, and Electronics Unlimited."

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Went through a box of prayer books, rules of the Society of Jesus, books on spiritual exercises (basic rules, theory, and practice), books on pastoral care, handbooks on ceremonies, etc.

I'm setting these aside for the moment because the Jesuits have requested that materials related to Fr. Ong's personal spiritual life be returned. There are some non-personal spiritual material mixed in, such as a travel guide to Cairo (Ong was in Egypt in 1969) and a History of the Society of Jesus.

Of late, I've been thinking about Ong's identity as a Jesuit priest, and I've begun to wonder how many people do take note of this fact when they read his work. For myself, as a non-Catholic, the answer's always been not much and even not at all. I've come to the conclusion, however, that ignoring this fact is a mistake. While I should leave the larger discussion to someone much more versed in Catholicism and the Society of Jesus, I do want to suggest a few points for thought:

A study of Ong's scholarship in the 1950 is quite revealing. At least it was for me. Reading such pieces as "Knowledge in Time" in Knowledge and the Future of Man, "Evolution and Cyclicism in Our Time" in Darwin's Vision and Christian Perspectives, and "Secular Knowledge and Revealed Religion" in American Catholic Crossroads indicate that Ong regarded discoveries of "secular knowledge" (my quotes) to be our discovery of God's creation, which we learned through time (my emphasis).

Consider, for example, the first four paragraphs of "Secular Knowledge and Revealed Religion":

"An understanding of the kind of presence which the Church exercises in the world demands some sense of relationships between divine revelations and natural knowledge. Studies in history of ideas, that is to say the history of the concepts and judgments which man has learned to form through his life of the human race, have made it impossible to retain some of the earlier nations of this relationship. Earlier, we might have been tempted to think of natural knowledge as existing, more or less preformed, by themselves and of divine revelation as superimposed on these knowledges from without.

"Such a picture will never do. When public divine revelation destined for all mankind was begun, it was only after mankind had been developing its store of knowledge for thousands upon thousands of years. Initially, this revelation was given in a definite culture, that of the Hebrews. Now, in any culture knowledge is possessed by a network of concepts and judgments which are intricately related to one another and dependent upon one another. Each culture has its own network of concepts which register in the particular development of language concomitant with the culture and which is in part determined by this development.

"A single individual could not begin to elaborate for himself the concepts which it has taken the branch of human culture into which he is born thousands upon thousands of years to elaborate and which he learns through this culture as he matures. For knowledge is not something accumulated in the human mind by a kind of addition or accretion comparable to the hooking of additional freight cars onto a train. Real increase in knowledge involves learning how to form new concepts and thus new judgments capable of establishing the knowledge of one's mind. One's ability to form new concepts is dependent in turn upon the culture or cultures with which one is in contact. Not that they will not depend on "things" or on "reality." But one cannot simply take in "things" or reality in one fell swoop. One must be taught within a linguistic and cultural context the places where it is possible to take hold of reality. The child must be coached in forming concepts. The number of concepts — to speak somewhat analogously, for it is not quite possible to count concepts — which can be formed vis-à-vis reality is potentially infinite. Each culture narrows the field by specializing in certain types of awareness and neglecting others" (67-68).

And then from the end of this same article:

"Since it is this developing world in which the various disciplines are playing a greater and greater role that the Church is called on to bring Christ, she has no choice about relating secular knowledge to theology. Thinkers in the Church must relate secular knowledges to theology and to her teaching, and this is not mearly to "reinterpret" her teaching for the age but also to possess it themselves in its fullness. For example, were theologians not to take advantage of the tremendess new insights into the meaning of person and personality developed through phenomenological and existentialist philosophy and thorugh depth psychology, their very knowlege of Catholic doctrine concerning the Blessed Trinity, the Three Divine Persons in One Divine Nature, would exist at a subnormal level, below what is par for twentieth century thinking concerned with the question of person. Where theologians not to try to understand evolution, they would be failing to understand the world, part of which Christ took Himself as His own body, really is, and to this extent failing to understand as fully as they might the meaning of the Incarnation. Were they to fail to appreciate the technological age as an age which, like th age of the reptiles or the Pleistocene Epoch, forms a definate part of the mysterious evolution of the universe devised by God, they would be failing to develop decently the fuller meaning of the Incarnation as this can be developed today" (89-80).

It has become quite clear to me that this has always been Ong's attitude towards knowledge. We learn, over time, how God's creation works. Occasionally, a scholar will point to the work of Scribner and Cole, Eisenstein, Schmandt-Besserat, and Heath as scholarship that undermines Ong's own work. In reality, you'll find that Ong either addressed the issue much earlier in his career (which spanned 60 years) or he incorporated the ideas into his own thinking later. For him, new knowledge wasn't something to be scared of, something that could derail his own thinking, because he saw himself describing the world as we understand it. New knowledge is assimilated into what is already known. He fully believed his (our) understanding of the world is always provisional and always changing. Consider, for instance, these two passages (paragraphs 2 and 8 of 10) taken from a letter Ong had published in the Institute for Theological Encounter with Science and Technology Bulletin 27.1 91996): 12-13:

"When God created the universe, he did not just set out in three-dimensional space the things we readily and directly sense — the seas, mountains, sun, moon, and stars and all the rest which our unenhanced senses reveal to us as constitutive of our environment. Our unaided senses and common sense reveal only an utterly infinitesimal notion and in fact inaccurate sense of where and what we are. Coming generations of humans will grow up with a sense of the universe from the one found in the scientific and theological world of earlier generations" (12).


"Perhaps I should style what we already know, namely, that our present knowledge of the evolution of the universe and human society recommends the Scotist view of creation rather than the competing view that God's first intention was to create the universe and that his intention to become incarnate was simply consequent on the occurrence of human sin. In the Scotist view, God determined first to identify with his creatures in becoming himself a human being. He thus created the universe, whereupon, when human sin came into his creations he gave himself (the Son) to be crucified for our redemption. In the first view, Christ is in the universe. In the second view, the universe is in Christ" (13).

Sunday, November 07, 2004

[The following are the talking points from my M/MLA 2004 presentation "The Walter J. Ong Archive: A Preliminary Report," which was given 6 Nov. 2004.]


I am here today to talk about the Walter J. Ong Collection, which is held by Saint Louis University’s Pius XII Memorial Library, Department of Special Collections.

In this talk, I will give a brief overview of the collection, explain what is currently available, what our future plans are, and share with you a few of the interesting items I’ve found so far.


Over the years, until 1990 or so, Fr. Ong gave to the library a number of personal items including books, papers, and letters to be housed in the University archives, and many years ago he requested that all his personal papers and his personal library be donated the University Archives upon his death, which the Missouri Province of the Society of Jesus did do this past August.

This summer, the library hired me as an English Ph.D. candidate with an interest in Ong’s scholarship to work over the next two years as a graduate research assistant to help the University archivists organize, preserve, and describe the collection.


The Walter J. Ong Collection currently consists of two parts, what I’m going to call the public collection and the non-public collection.

The public collection consists of 12 boxes of material Fr. Ong gave to the library up to, I think 1990, as well as some Ong related items donated to us by others. While this material is publically available, it is not yet cataloged.

The non-public collection consists of all of Fr. Ong’s files, papers, books, and computer files which were donated to Saint Louis University this past August by the Missouri Province of the Society of Jesus.

To some extent, the distinction between the public and non-public collections is arbitrary and reflects the fact that the material Fr. Ong had sent over prior to 1990s had been available to the public.

The plan is to eventually integrate both collections together, catalog them, and make the entire collection publically available by the end of summer 2006. An online finding guide and a collection Web site should be available at that time as well.

Public Collection

The publically available collection consists of some 12 boxes of material which break down as such:

-3 boxes of book typescripts, including
  • Ramus, Method, and the Decay of Dialogue,

  • the Ramus and Talon Inventory,

  • In the Human Grain,

  • The Presence of the Word,

  • Knowledge and the Future of Man,

  • Interfaces of the Word,

  • Rhetoric, Romance, and Technology,

  • Fighting for Life,

  • Hopkins, Self, and God,

  • Milton Logic, and

  • Orality and Literacy.

-3 boxes of works, mostly off-prints, but also some typescripts of papers, lectures, an account of a trip Ong took to Leningrad in 1968, and his annotated copy of the Ramus and Talon Inventory.

-3 boxes of off-prints given to Fr. Ong by other scholars.

-A box of lectures and address, many with handwritten notes and corrections. Most, but not all, of these have seen publication in some form.

-A box with two index-card boxes which contain note cards for Orality & Literacy, Milton Logic, and Fighting for Life.

-A box with miscellaneous items, including audio recordings of some lectures and radio broadcasts, and 7 slide boxes.

6 of the slide boxes were taken while Fr. Ong was in Europe working on his dissertation and include pictures of the only known oil painting of Peter Ramus.

The 7th box includes slides is of Fr. Ong’s 1968 trip Europe, which includes a conference in Finland, a trip to Leningrad, theWenner-Gren Foundation conference in Austria, and some time spent in Paris.

Non-public Collection

39 cardboard boxes
4 four-drawer file cabinets
1 two-drawer file cabinet
4 2-drawer stackable metal boxes
2 metal index card boxes

The boxes mostly contain Fr. Ong’s personal library. Books he’d collected, been given, as well as archival, working copies, and revising copies of the books he authored. There are also journals, off-prints, dissertations given to him, audio and video recordings, a McLuhan CD-ROM, some papers, etc.

The filing cabinets are all well organized. The four-drawer files contain both “general files” and “publications.” General files include everything from general correspondence to his Rockhurst diploma to sketches and doodles to course syllabi to work on local and national committees.

The Publication files are chronological and contain such things as typescripts and off-prints, related correspondence, audio recordings, and the like.

-The two-drawer filing cabinet has off-prints given to Fr. Ong and information regarding Ong related conference sessions.

-The stackable metal boxes have note cards used for class lectures and, I think, some sermons.

-And the index card boxes contain note cards for the Ramus projects.

Handout [note: I may scan the handout and post it online at some point. If I do, I'll link to it from this blog.]

-As I said, there are a number of syllabi, lecture notes, etc. in Fr. Ong’s files. I include on your handout a lecture note card on Sylvia Plath as an example.


-In the general files is a folder labeled “artwork” which has a number of sketches and doodles. In that folder is an envelope labeled “1931-32 done during German class Rockhurst College.” Most of the sketches in that envelope are of hands and heads.
Personally, however, what I’ve found most interesting are a number of sketches of flora and fauna, which include the three on your handout.

In addition to these sketches, I’ve come across some field notes of flora and fauna Fr. Ong saw while exploring an area he was visiting. I find all of this is quite interesting when considered in conjunction with the following comment Ong wrote in a letter:

"Regarding your question as to why with so much of my educational background in Latin and philosophy and theology (and science -- I've always been a biologist at heart, in study and hobbies), I took up with English for my MA and PhD, I might say that English seemed intellectually and culturally roomier and more open than other subjects. It could encompass what they did and more -- could open the way into almost anything."


-In the publication files, in part of the section on Ramus, Method, and the Decay of Dialogue and the Ramus and Talon Inventory there is a folder of correspondence detailing the ordeal Fr. Ong went through in getting the two works published.

In these letters, I learned that Harvard UP was concern with the length of the two works, and it’s my impression they would have been quite happy to drop the Inventory altogether. To get both published, Fr. Ong had to revise and cut heavily.

Also of interest in this file is the minor fallout from the scathing review one of the two outside readers Perry Miller had suggested gave the work. In it, the reviewer accused Ong of writing an intellectual history with a Jesuit bias, and of being both anti-Renaissance and anti-Protestant, and strongly recommended Harvard UP not publish it at all. Harvard UP, it’s quite clear, didn’t give the review much credit, but they had to bring in additional readers before they could accept the work.

My favorite says something to the effect that all intellectual histories have a bias and that he didn’t see why a Jesuit bias was worse than any other, and that while the work may be anti-Protestant and anti-Renaissance, he had been unable to detect it.

Not part of this file, but directly related to it is the second page of your handout, which is a working draft of the TOC of Ramus, Method, and the Decay of Dialogue.

*note original title: "The Clunch Fist of Method: Ramus, Topical Logic, and the Hollows of the Mind.”

*Ong contributed the paper “The Clunch Fist of Method” to the 1952 English Institute at Columbia University. Philip Wheelright delivered the paper for Ong because he was still in France doing dissertation research thanks to a second Guggenheim Fellowship. The paper was published in the 1952 English Institute collection under the title “Ramus: Rhetoric and the Pre-Newtonian Mind.”

*“Hollows of the Mind” was one of the chapters cut from Book IV

*I have not yet been able to find a copy of Ong’s dissertation. However, unlike all the other book typescripts of which we have one copy of each, all identified as “press copy,” we have two copies of Ramus, Method, and the Decay of Dialogue and the Inventory, a revising copy and a press copy. I’m beginning to suspect that Fr. Ong used his copy of the dissertation as a working revision draft. These typescripts are publically available.

While the artwork and the file on Ramus, Method, and the Decay of Dialogue are not currently publically available, I do want to draw attention to one item that is: Fr. Ong’s heavily annotated “revising” copy of the 1958 Inventory. Ong’s annotations, mostly additions and corrections, have never been published. I specifically mention this because I think it’s a project someone ought to investigate.

Other Cool Stuff

-A teaching copy of Presence of the Word in which passages he appears to have read in class have had "or her" and "or she" written in. Notes in the margins seem to suggest that this was in 1991/92.

-Inserted at the beginning of the "Talked Book" chapter of Interfaces of the Word is a Family Circus cartoon in which the two boys run up to their grandmother, one of them holding a book above his head. The caption reads "Would you talk us a book, Grandma?"

And, finally, there’s a gift inscription in a book from McLuhan that reads:

Greetings Walter old horse,
'Some of my best friends are Jesuits but I wouldn't want my daughter to marry one.'

At the beginning of the Handout, I list three URLs. The first is to the St. Louis Room, which is the Rare Book Room and University Archives where the Walter J. Ong Collection is held.

The Second is the URL to my blog, “Notes from the Walter J. Ong Archive,” where I’m posting selections from of my working notes, thoughts and ideas related to Ong and Ong’s work, and occasionally news. I don’t update the blog every day but rather I tend to do multiple entries a couple of times a month.

Lastly, the third URL is to the Walter J. Ong Project, which includes information about Fr. Ong and, soon, the most comprehensive bibliography available.

SLU will host Ong Conference this April and the St. Louis Room will have items from the archive on display at that time.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

I came across a file which includes an audio recording of a BBC Radio 3 program titled "Understanding McLuhan" which broadcast November 25, 1981. I haven't listened to the tape yet, but there's a letter from the BBC which states they wanted Ong "to record about 20 minutes of material which would be a mixture of personal reminiscence and analysis of McLuhan's work with the emphasis on the latter." In particular, they were looking for an "account of the genesis of McLuhan's ideas and an assessment of the importance of his Catholicism to his thinking in general." The letter is dated 21 April 1981. Ong notes that he did the recording on 29 April at the studio of KWMU, which is St. Louis's NPR station.