"I just read two books back to back to good effect: Walter Ong's Orality and Literacy and Elijah Wald's How the Beatles Destroyed Rock n Roll: An Alternative History of American Popular Music [...]
Ong's book is a classic. Out of date in some ways (published in 1982), but still worth a read for the way it stakes out a para-McLuhanite position on the orality-literacy debate. Wald's book came out a couple years ago and is a real eye/ear-opener (I'll let my kids decide whether it's a classic, when they're old enough). What makes them go together is that Wald, in effect, rehearses Ong's argument - unawares, so far as I can tell. This helps me see what's right and wrong in Ong, who tells the story of how we ended up with this oxymoron, 'oral literature'. Wald tells the parallel story of how we ended up with 'live music' - not an oxymoron, but it would have considerably puzzled our ancestors. Let me just give a thumbnail version of both stories."
""I envy University Professors. They are paid to question people who know nothing but try very hard to say something, while I have to question people who know everything but do their utmost to say nothing at all."
Piercamillo Davigo, Italian Judge investigating corrupt politicians"