[KB] Conversation Editing Redux 2

bruderian at gmail.com bruderian at gmail.com
Fri Jan 20 00:03:44 EST 2017


Ed, Jim:

Addictions can be broken. I'm not sure I would characterize guilt, sacrifice, redemption as thee Iron law of history however pervasive the pattern is.  It is possible that this pattern, perfected by ages of theological social control, was simply laid over a more general dramatic pattern or cycle, for example the monomythic stages of the heroes quest. Instead of opposing guilt to innocence you might opt, should your preferences turn that way, to opposing innocence and experience.  Not that guilt is missing from the Blakean universe, but withdrawal, initiation and return appear to be more central or originary than guilt, sacrifice, redemption which may be a typical pattern for those who temporarily failed in their quest for identity.

Furthermore, conflict as a dramatic concept seems as derivative as "Trouble."  Surely where there's drama there is conflict. But it is a leap I think or a limitation of the associational possibilities to say where there's conflict there is Victimage. 

Your moral conflict interpretation of dramatism is powerful yes, but it strikes me as conservative, homeostatic. Someone goes wrong and must be set right. Another iron law not of history but nature or evolution pushes adaptation to change over and above the instances of a working social homeostasis.  Not morality but ingenuity and idiocy seem to be driving our relationship to nature. I'm certainly not denying the efficacy of morality as a force that monitors, corrects and enhances  social cohesion, just pointing out that initiation into adulthood and membership in the community or culture or the withdraw from the community and the heroes quest for those experiences and skills needed to solve emergent problems is just as dramatic as the conscience-biting dramas of moral conflict.

The motto of a 1928 manifesto on writing pulp fiction plots was quite simple: Desire and Obstacle in Conflict. Perhaps an inappropriate pursuit of desire results in guilt and necessitates sacrifice in order to be redeemed and brought back within the ambit of the age old quests of humankind. Lamentable yes, to have been sidetracked through purgatory and into hell, but then tried, forged, annealed and "proven," one is certainly no longer innocent, we have to say he or she is now experienced, ready for a new class of drama.

Who is to say?

Leslie

Sent from my iPhone

> On Jan 19, 2017, at 6:47 PM, Jim Moore <jimmijcat at hotmail.com> wrote:
> 
> 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.  
> 
> 
> Peace,
> 
> 
> Jim
> 
>  
> 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
>  
> Burkophiles,
> 
>           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.
> 
>  
>           Ed
> 
>  
>           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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