[KB] Conversation Editing Redux 2

Jim Moore jimmijcat at hotmail.com
Thu Jan 19 19:47:27 EST 2017

Hi everybody,

I've not read the article but "Trouble" sounds suspiciously very much like a rephrasing

of terms such as conflict, which drives narrative (this is a truism for sure).  There's

little or no narrative (or drama) if agents aren't in conflict--the notion that we

will always be in conflicts and in need of peaceful ways of addressing is at the heart of

A Rhetoric of Motives.  Maybe we can attribute Trouble to Burke this way, but the

concept is much, much older than him I think.



From: KB <kb-bounces at kbjournal.org> on behalf of Edward C Appel <edwardcappel at frontier.com>
Sent: January 19, 2017 9:54:05 AM
To: kb at kbjournal.org
Subject: [KB] Conversation Editing Redux 2


          First off, let’s go to where Burke explicitly, if elliptically (that’s Burke’s style, right?), ties his pentad to the “Trouble” that is inherent in what Burke labels the “Iron Law of History,” humankind’s lamentable addiction to the guilt-sacrifice-redemption cycle. The terms Burke employs here, as implicit in the pentad, are analogous to the word “Trouble,” or can be subsumed under its general heading: “drama,” “conflict,” and “victimage.” “Drama” and “conflict” are inseparably related. Merriam-Webster’s defines “drama” as “a state, situation, or series of events” having a “serious tone” and “involving interesting or intense conflict of forces” (the Collegiate, Eleventh Edition, p. 378). The simplest definition of “drama” I use in the Primer is, moral conflict to set right a situation gone wrong, or prevent a situation from going wrong. Symbolizers are always on the edge of full-fledged drama, rule violation, failure to live up to expectations, leading to “conflict.” That’s why there’s surveillance, in the family, in school, in the workplace, in the community, in the Garden of Eden before the Fall---everywhere, even before a big-time violation of the rule or rules that undergird the established hierarchal structure in those venues occurs.

          Here’s how Burke vouchsafes that trajectory from the pentad to the potentially dire “Trouble” given shape by the cycle of terms implicit in the idea of order:

          “There is a gloomy route, of this sort: If ACTION is to be our key term, then DRAMA; for drama is the culminative form of action (this is a variant of the ‘perfection’ principle discussed in the previous chapter [culmination: the climax of the trajectory]. But if DRAMA, then CONFLICT. And if CONFLICT, then VICTIMAGE. Dramatism is always [note: ALWAYS] on the edge of this vexing problem [read: TROUBLE], that comes to a culmination in tragedy, the song of the scapegoat [see Leviticus, Chapter 16, on the function of the “scapegoat” on the Day of Atonement in Ancient Israel, and Burke’s congruent description of that function in “The Dialectic of the Scapegoat,” Grammar, pp. 406-408]” (“Terministic Screens,” LASA, pp. 54-55, emphasis in original).

          “Perfection” in Burke is analogous to “entelechy,” “the actualization of form-giving cause as contrasted with potential existence , . . . an inherent regulating and directing force . . . .” Meriam-Webster’s, p. 416. See, also, DD, Appendix A, pp. 57-58.

          Which is to say, anytime you see an actor performing an action for some purpose, employing certain means or steps or stages in attempting to achieve that end, in response to necessarily scenic or situational pressures, rules, or constraints, look for a troublesome conflict of some kind, actual or potential, driving that action, however overtly or subtly. Warding off possible “trouble” in the form of feared “conflict” and its likely victimizing consequences is as dramatic as acting to overcome them.

          I remember taking college Shakespeare way back when. Professor Bomberger made us diagram selected plays we were not able to get to in class. “Rising action” began with what we were to label the initial “complication.” Call it just as readily the opening “conflict” or “trouble.” No human action in real life, or in literary or theatrical drama, happens without that “gloomy” route, of lesser degree (comedy) or more (say, burlesque, melodrama, or tragedy) lurking as threat up ahead.

          Next: The “Trouble” initiating “drama” (as the end-result of pentadic implications) as “morbid[ity]” or “sickness” requiring “hypochondriasis” as program of intervention and melioration.


          P.S. After my first post on this matter, I received a reply from a subscriber. I responded to the post by hitting “reply” rather than “reply all,” thinking that would send the message only to the respondent in question. If that reply went out to all subscribers to the list, I apologize. It contained private information not for general posting. I’ve changed the title of this thread so as to be sure not to repost that private information.
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