Going through the unfiled files (that is, the files from Fr. Ong’s desk and book shelves which were never formally filed), I’ve come across two more references to secondary visualism. (( For other references to secondary visualism and secondary literacy, see both my post “Ong on Secondary Orality and Secondary Literacy” and Ong’s unpublished lecture “Secondary Orality and Secondary Visualism.” )) Unfortunately, since both are from talking points, neither go into any depth; however, in the second piece, “Notenda for Informal Response,” Ong offers a short but radical expansion of his notion of secondary orality and secondary visualism.
The first is from talking points Ong wrote for a guest lecture to Vincent Casaregola’s “Rhetorical Theory and Discourse Pedagogy” course here at Saint Louis University on 15 March 1993. In it, Ong writes:
2. Effect of electronics (first pre-elecrtronic gramophone or mechanical, non-electric phonograph or gramophone [1857, Edison 1877]; electricity in electric telegraph (1837), telephone (1876), crystal-set radio; electronics emerging around 1920s, vacuum tube). Effects multiple and endless: secondary orality (dependent on writing, but results resemble primary orality (EXPLAIN–spontaneity of ’60s). But also “secondary visualism” indefinitely enhanced visual field (graphics, &c), “virutal reality.” Digitization: timepieces commonest experiences of the digitization of the nondigitizable; Dalí’s The Persistence of Memory. Musicians’ rejection of digitized music as unreal. For you deal with: hypertext (George P. Landow’s Hypertext: The Convergence of Contemporary Critical Theory and Technology), footnoting footnotes on footnotes on footnotes: everything on any subject (but what is a “subject”?). Comparable development < --- information increase and explosion: old-time history (residual orality: past=action of "heavy" figures) > les annalistes (Philippe Ariès, Centuries of Childhood) > the “new history” > Mentalitiés/Mentalities.
The second is from a one-page, single-spaced printout titled “Notanda for Informal Response,” written for the 1995 Midwest Modern Language Association Annual Convention session “Presences of the Word: Ong Studies for the 21st Century.” In it, Ong writes:
Orality-literacy studies have always been an open field. No one can pretend ever to have said the last word. In orality-literacy studies, now is the time when, more than ever before, we should study interactions. To do this we must be aware of the characteristics of (among other things):
Oral residue after writing and writing’s sequels. My PW, OL, &c. (( The Presence of the Word and Orality and Literacy. )) Very helpful: Brian Stock, The Implications of Literacy.
Secondary orality (orality interacting with writing, print, and electronics): not only in the electronic age (to which I first applied the term, directly to radio and television) but also in the manuscript and print ages and postmodern deconstruction. Paul, close of 2 Thess.
In addition, secondary visualism of manuscript age, and much more of print age (exactly repeatable visual statement) and of electronic communication (graphics).
Internet: basically visual (computer screen) and hence inevitably distancing (you cannot know for sure the identity of the person with whom you are communicating). Because of the at least unconsciously sensed distancing, compulsive preoccupation with intimacy (featured achievement: out of the millions who correspond on internet, two eventually marry one another–featured story proving great and pervading intimacy!) A reason for compulsive preoccupation with intimacy: rapidity of electronic interchange of thought between two persons creates an environment like–but not the same as–that voice, vocal exchange, sound, in face-to-face interaction. But virtual reality is by definition not face-to-face. Cf. Bukatman, Terminal Identity (subconscious suppressed).