[KB] Conversation Editing Redux

Edward C Appel edwardcappel at frontier.com
Thu Jan 19 11:19:37 EST 2017


          Ihave some “trouble,” lower-case “t,” with an article in the current edition ofthe KBJournal. The article isentitled, “’Trouble with a Capital T’: Jerome S. Bruner’s Reenvisioning ofKenneth Burke’s Dramatistic Pentad.” In a book or books of Bruner’s the authorscite, Bruner added a sixth term to Burke’s pentad of agent, act, purpose,agency, and scene. That sixth term is not “attitude.” The concept Brunerattaches is “Trouble” with, yes, a capital “T.” For Bruner, it’s that sixthterm, “Trouble,” that drives the human drama, and it is contained, ifenigmatically, somewhere in the Grammarof Motives, Bruner seems to have said or implied.

          Theauthors say they looked everywhere in the Grammarand in Burke’s other writings and could not find “Trouble” anywhere. Bruner’sattribution of the notion to Burke, therefore, the authors contend, has to berejected. They go on to show the relevance of “Trouble,” and what Bruner claimsfor it as the fundamental source of drama, as a useful, viable concept.

          Sofar, so good, in my view. I think the authors are right on. The basictheoretical case they make sounds bullet proof to me.

          Here,though, is potential “trouble,” as I see it. The authors say Bruner is wrong ingiving credit for this notion to Burke. It’s not in Burke. Give the credit toBruner with his “reenvisioning.”

 I’d like to offer an alternative take.“Trouble,” variously worded, suffuses Burke’s corpus, it seems to me, and isexplicitly, if elliptically, tied to the Pentad by Burke himself.

          Whydoes this issue exercise me so? About twenty-five years ago, an anonymousreviewer took a submission of mine to task for integrating the pentad and termsimplicit in the idea of order. I think I know who this reviewer was. He’s amajor Burke scholar. I wrote back an eight-to-ten-page, single-spaced responsein support of my usage. You can read the first three chapters of my Burke Primer for one particular trajectoryinto the matter. You can read, as well, my “Addendum 3: The Pentad as SeparateCritical Tool” on detaching those five basic, highly-abstract terms from theirimplicit relationship to the guilt-redemption cycle Burke shows them to have. 

          ButI’m getting ahead of myself. Let me get into “trouble” more directly in my nextpost.


          P.S.Call this rant and its follow-ups an effort to “mature” the matter via the“collective revelation of testing and discussion,” a day or two or three in the“parlor,” where a more or less heated conversation has been going on for ages,where the aim is to transition possible “pseudo-statements” into more or less“statements,” as per, at least, the admittedly truncated view of the ranter inquestion. This operation is much more easily accomplished with an onlinejournal, with a discussion list “attached,” so to speak.

          Maybeyou could call such kibitzers “conversation editors.”

          Forgot.We did have one the first four years. My, how time flies.   

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