The Presence of the Word
Some Prolegomena for Cultural and Religious History
Imprint: Yale University Press
Series: The Terry Lectures Series
This provocative exploration of the nature and history of the word in some of its social, psychological, literary, phenomenological, and religious dimensions argues that the word is initially aural and in the last analysis always remains sound; it cannot be reduced to any other category. Father Ong contends that sound is essentially an event manifesting power and personal presence, and his descriptive analysis of the development of the media of verbal expression, from their oral sources through the laborious transfer to the visual world and then to contemporary means of electronic communication, shows that the predicament of the human word is the predicament of man himself. Examining the close alliance of the spoken word with the sense of the sacred, particularly in the Hebreo-Christian tradition, he reveals that in a world where presence has penetrated time and space as never before, modern man must find the God who has given himself in the Word which brings man more into the world of sound than of sight.