[KB] Conversation Editing Redux 3

Edward C Appel edwardcappel at frontier.com
Fri Jan 20 16:16:55 EST 2017


Burkophiles,


          Thanksto Jim and Les for the ponderable points they raise. Will get to them later.Want to keep on the trajectory I’ve begun.


          Continuingon with my “troublesome” reading of Burke:


          Inaddition to Burke’s explicit, if elliptical, fastening of the pentad to themanifest “Trouble,” as I see it, suffusing the terms of the guilt-redemptioncycle (in “Terministic Screens”), Burke, in his “collage-like” way (TillyWarnock’s descriptive for Burke’s quirky style), performs the same operationeven more nonlinearly in his introduction to the order terms in RR. Note in particular pages 180-188 inthe chapter, “The First Three Chapters of Genesis.” These are the pages thatcome just before and just after Burke’s famous chart, “Cycle of Terms Implicitin the Idea of ‘Order’” (p. 184). Just prior to introducing thoseguilt-redemption terms in elaborated form, Burke harks back to the pentad inorder to show its inadequacy, by itself, for giving a full picture of “verbalaction.” Burke says, on page 180, “The most general starting point for theDramatistic cycle of terms would be in the term ‘act.’” Burke goes on toreference “the many kinds of ‘rationally’ purposive motion” that mightimplicitly follow from the idea of an “act.” One example: God’s act of Creation.


          However,Burke says, this “general,” high-abstraction start for the “Dramatistic cycleof terms” would, by itself, “not serve our present purpose,” which will beputting “stress upon ‘sin’ or ‘guilt.’ Frankly, it [the pentad] would not bemorbid enough.”


          Morbid:etymologically, diseased. “Of, relating to, or characteristic of disease.Abnormally susceptible to or characterized by gloomy or unwholesome feelings”(the Collegiate, p. 807).


          How,once again, did Burke describe that “route” down which the notion of an “act,”and therefore all the other “general” pentadic terms the notion of an “act”inevitably suggests, that “route” toward, also, on presumably a less-generallevel of abstraction---how did Burke language that slippery slope downward that“always” draws us on to, or efforts to withstand or guard against, some measureor intensity of “conflict” and “victimage,” i.e., full-fledged “drama”? It isthe “gloomy route,” the “morbid” route, some manifestation of the endemic “disease”of human symbolism.


          “Morbid[ity],”“disease”: analogous terms for “Trouble” in Burke’s “reenvisioning,” if youwill,


          On p.17 in PLF, Burke invokes “disease” asliterally construed, yes, but also, I think, as metaphor, equivalent to the“burden” or “discomfiture” that Burke indicates serves as, what, the “trouble”(?) that initiates one’s drama. Burke goes on, then, to articulate this generalaxiom of dramatic criticism: “. . . The true locus of assertion is not in theDISEASE [initiating conflict, complication, violation, burden, “Trouble”], butin the STRUCTURAL POWERS by which the poet encompasses it” [read: victimage,sacrifice, of self or other or both]” (p. 18, emphasis in original).


          Diseaseor “sickness,” with its “symptoms,” as Burke’s terms, metaphorically employedor not, for the “Trouble” that prompts and exacerbates human dramatic conflictis highlighted in both endings of the Grammar(pp. 317, 443).  Hence Burke’s prescriptionfor “hypochondriasis” as salubrious ATTITUDE or regimen for coping with suchsymptoms, if not “curing” this endemic epidemic. “Hypochondriasis: the attitudeof a patient who makes peace with his [sic] symptoms by becoming interested inthem.”


          Inexplaining in RR the operations ofthe guilt-redemption terms, Burke cannot get away from use of the pentad/hexad,nor can anyone else. The two paradigms of action are inextricably related ingeneral discussion. Only by studied abstraction can the pentad be so detached,isolated, and employed for critical use. See especially p. 188 in RR for such an integrated usage.


          Here’sthe thing, though, that dawns on me in respect to the article in question inthe KBJ. The authors are, as I seeit, surely right that “Trouble,” no matter how it’s phrased, drives the drama.But, also, they are calling attention, perhaps indirectly, but still callingattention, to a seemingly huge lacuna in the case Burke makes in the Grammar. What in the foregoing textprepares us for, especially, the first ending, the one that comes after the“Philosophic Schools”? Where is the “Trouble” in the Grammar that explains Burke’s conclusion that symbolic facilityshould be likened to a “sickness” that fosters “absurd ambitions” that aredangerous for humankind and likely unstoppable? As the authors suggest, such“Trouble” is not in the Grammar ascarefully developed analysis. The negative, the motive of perfection, the termsfor order thoroughly anatomized, theological impetus as master screen andtemptation that, when immanentized in pursuit of some ultimate secularreverence in this imperfect world---i.e., “logology”---these later obsessionsof Burke’s that would more clearly justify the dire warning Burke makes on pp.317-20 are nowhere present in argumentative relevance, even in Burke’s brieftreatment of the “negative” under “Agency and Purpose” (pp. 294-97).


          Forsomeone reading the Grammar inisolation, too much seems to be missing from that book to support something ofa prologue to the Helhaven Papers of the early 1970s. Such a prologue is whatBurke seems to be suggesting in those two endings to the Grmmar. The Helhaven Papers appear after the lineaments of logologyhave been drawn.     

          Morelater, perhaps, on the pentad as separate critical tool, on the ubiquity inBurke of the dramatic terms for order way BEFORE Burke gets to the Grammar and its airy pentad, andtherefore the question, could the pentad be seen rather as the “reenvisioning”of the messy nitty-gritties of sacrifical drama?


          Inquiringminds want to know.



 
          Ed

                      

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