A Rhetoric of Motives

“In public relations, most expressions are as though wigwagged from a great distance, or as uttered behind masks, or as transmitted by hearsay. Hence, one must go to the first frank level of analysis, the extra verbally behavioristic.” pg 185

Burke was trying to say that Public Relations practitioners try to voice the voiceless by making a sound with their voice. That is true, since one of Public Relations’ goals is to centralize all the communication channels. It focuses on producing a “so called” verified and official information, although the information may not be part of one's direct knowledge. This passage is interesting when considering Public Relations as a modernist movement, because in a way Public Relations controls all the messages. I am beginning to sense the paradox, and recognize Burke's inconsistencies in situation and motives. But then, Burke points out in the second sentence that all rhetoric should be analyzed from an “extra verbally behavioristic” perspective to understand the kind of motives. Otherwise, the motives will only move back and forth within a meta moment. This positivist and dialectic situation creates an ultimate term, especially if it is being misunderstood.


“extra verbally behavioristic” makes me think of the word "ultra-violence" which is used in A Clockwork Orange - Both relate to public relations -- extreme transgressions, by way of words (maybe by "extra verbally behavioristic" he just means "talks a lot" or "languid"). I wonder how scholarship or scholarly arguments differ from public relations, or rather, how fundamentally similar they are.