Terminologies and the Abyss

"In school, as they go from class to class, students turn from one idiom to another. The various courses in the curriculum are in effect but so many different terminologies. And however important to us is the tiny sliver of reality each of us has experienced firsthand, the whole overall 'picture' is but a construct of our symbol systems. To meditate on this fact until one sees its full implications is much like peering over the edge of things into an ultimate abyss" (48).

Unplugged

“We are happiest when we can plunge on and on. And any thought of turning back, of curbing rather than aggravating our cult of ‘new needs,’ seems to us suicidal, even though the situation is actually the reverse, and it is our mounting technologic clutter that threatens us.” (Kenneth Burke, On Human Nature: A Gathering While Everything Flows 1967-1984, pg. 61)

Terministic Seens/Unseens

"In school, as they go from class to class, students turn from one idiom to another. The various courses in the curriculum are in effect but so many different terminologies. And however important to us is the tiny sliver of reality each of us has experienced firsthand, the whole overall 'picture' is but a construct of our symbol systems. To meditate on this fact until one sees its full implications is much like peering over the edge of things into an ultimate abyss" (48).

Read: existential crisis. Read: loss of faith. Read: angst. Read: insomnia. Read: Turtles all the way down.

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).

The Classifying Animal

“We have said that man, as a symbol-using animal, experiences a difference between this being and that being as a difference between this kind of being and that kind of being. Here is a purely dialectical factor at the very center of realism. Here, implicit in our attitudes toward things, is a principle of classification. And classification in this linguistic, or formal sense is all-inclusive, ‘prior’ to classification in the exclusively social sense.

The Outsiders [and the Insiders]

"When an individual is being received into an alien social group, he may himself feel the need to be 'hazed,' just as the established members of the group may feel the need to haze him. The conditions of mystery may lead to apprehensions more or less clearly expressed, as the insiders feel that they are being silently judged, or that the newcomer threatens their ways, while he himself has the sense of protruding among company like what Marcus Aurelius might have called an 'abscess'. " A Rhetoric of Motives p. 236

Burke, A Rhetoric of Motives

However, if you take the Platonic form at face value, analyze it simply interms of dialectical structure, you find there an ultimate order whereby ideas would transcend sensory images, and mythic images would in turn transcend ideas. (Burke, AROM, p. 203)

Pages

Subscribe to RCID 813: Kenneth Burke RSS