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explication: A Rhetoric of Motives #2

“All told, there is the self-abnegation of ‘sacrifice.’ And sacrifice is the essence of religion. Symbolically, it is a kind of suicide, a willed variant of dying, dying to this or that particular thing (‘mortification’), not because of those things in themselves, but because the yielding of them represents the principle of sacrifice in the absolute. So the religious injunctions against suicide in the literal sense are matched by the many religious disciplines for attaining transcendence by dying ‘dialectically’” (266).

explication: A Rhetoric of Motives #1

From A Rhetoric of Motives:

“Or otherwise put: the imagery of slaying is a special case of transformation, and transformation involves the ideas and imagery of identification. That is: the killing of something is the changing of it, and the statement of the thing’s nature before and after the change is an identifying of it” (20).

explication: muddling through

From Permanence and Change:

"To muddle through is to be not over-exact, to let events shape themselves in part, to make up one's specific policies as one goes along, in accordance with the unforeseen newnesses that occur in the course of events, instead of approaching one's problem with an entire program laid out rigidly in advance" (108).

explication: victimization and tragedy

From A Grammar of Motives:

"at the moment of tragic vision, the fatal accidents are felt to bear fully upon the act, while the act itself is felt to have summed up the character of the agent. [...] And whereas the finality and solemnity of death often leads to the assumption that the tragic vision is possible only at the point of death, we must recognize that dialectically one may die many times (in fact, each time an assertion leads beyond itself to a new birth) and that tragedy is but a special case of the dialectical process in general" (39).

Burke Paper Contract

Acting (Out) Illnesses

explication: G of M #2

From A Grammar of Motives:

explication: G of M #1

From A Grammar of Motives:

"The same structure is present in the corresponding Greek word, hypostasis, literally, a standing under: hence anything set under, such as stand, base, bottom, prop, support, stay; hence metaphorically, that which lies at the bottom of a thing, as the groundwork, subject matter, argument of a narrative, speech poem; a starting point, a beginning" (23)

Identification, Struggle, and Something Else

From “Twelve Propositions” in The Philosophy of Literary Form:

explication: language speaking us

From The Philosophy of Literary Form:
“And in all work, as in proverbs, the naming is done ‘strategically’ or ‘stylistically,’ in modes that embody attitudes, of resignation, solace, vengeance, expectancy, etc.”

language, action, and violence

(Both of the following quotations are from Permanence and Change)

“But speech in its essence is not neutral. Far from aiming at suspended judgement, the spontaneous speech of a people is loaded with judgements [...] Spontaneous speech is not naming at all, but a system of attitudes, of implicit exhortations. To call a man a friend or an enemy is per se to suggest a program of action with regard to him” (177).


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