Burke's Ambiguity Pt. 2

"[Erksine] Caldwell tends to begin with some oddity of situation, which as likely as not suggested itself without a resolution, so that the story merely fades away rather than closes . . . He seems as contented as a savage to say the same thing again and again . . . Sometimes when reading Caldwell I feel as though I were playing with my toes."

Fundamentally Spiritual

'spiritual' values get their authority because they reinforce the ways of thinking and feeling by which man equips himself to accomplish the tasks indigenous to his environment.

(TPOLF 315)

I had to laugh at this pragmatic approach to spiritual authority... having it described (most cunningly) as "Darwinian". Faith as an evolutionary product? Only Burke could so beautifully intertwine such apparent opposites.

The Paradox of Reduction

“You can reduce everything to communication—yet communication is extremely complex.” (Kenneth Burke, The Philosophy of Literary Form, pg. 263)

Philosophy of Literary Form

“I do not contend that the mode of analysis here proposed is automatically free of subjective interpretation. I do contend that an discussable dictionary is avoided (as were one to have a set of absolute meanings for every kind of symbol and to simply “translate” a book from its exoteric idiom into the corresponding esoteric one) (Burke, Philosophy of Literary Form, 89). “

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.”

Screening Contradictions

"Nowhere does this book, which is so full of war plans, make the slightest attempt to explain the steps whereby the triumph of 'Jewish Bolshevism" , which destroys all finance, wll be the triumph of 'Jewish' finance" (POLF 196).

On Magic

The choice here is not a choice between magic and no magic, but a choice between magics that vary in their degree of approximation of the truth. (Philosophy of Literary Form, p.6)

Pure Art

"'Pure' art tends to promote a state of acceptance" (Philosophy of Lit. Form, 320)

another -ism?

I believe that ‘humanitarianism’ can also be singled out as an integral aspect of the debunking strategy. For, unless the thinker is totally antisocial, humanitarian elements must be engrafted upon modes of thinking that attribute human actions to motives low in the scale of value. The typical debunker might write a book to prove, for instance, that ‘all people are crooks.’ The logical conclusion from such a book would be, ‘so let’s try to cheat them before they cheat us.’ But a purely humanitarian afterthought is usually added to the thesis.

The Religious Swindle

"There is nothing in religion proper which requires a fascist state. There is much in religion, when misused, that does lead to a fascist state." Philosophy of Literary Form (219)


Subscribe to RCID 813: Kenneth Burke RSS