Hierarchies and Dogs
Edappel8 at cs.com
Sat Mar 23 11:31:35 EST 2002
Thanks to all for the great panel discussion on this topic! I hate to
complain about hurling words "into the void" and then not respond promptly to
those who pick up the thread, so extensively and thoughtfully, on this matter
of Burkean moment that I helped stitch together at the start. I had an
ophthalmological exam yesterday, with three different kinds of drops put into
both my eyes. Afterward, it was too hard to read what was on the screen till
well into the night. If you respond by saying only an idiot would refuse
reversal drops after such an exam, I rest my case.
I must find, or get a hold of, Jim's original essay on Martin Luther King,
Jr., and equality to respond with full confidence to the neat things he had
to say. One thing he offered I need to follow up on is that moral preference
is the BEGINNING of hierarchy. That observation suggests steps in between.
David's intricate analysis on the "nonegalitarianism" of democracy, and its
relation to Jesus' subversive teachings and my disenchantment with the
Presbyterian Church USA is ponderable and worthy of a thoughtful reply, too.
I'll give it thought.
On the theme of "equality" in the midst of "inequality," indeed on the means
by which identification and unity are forged out of ethically-charged
disparities in the context of language-inspired social hierarchy, Burke has
some relevant things to say on pp. 191, 195, and 287 in RM. I'll try to post
some things from the perspective of those passages later.
Les, with his customary poetic brilliance, gets close to what some of us
perceive as Burke's "bottom line" on human hierarchies. (Maybe it's just me.
I think Jim imputes to Burke a less negative view of the "lingustic motive"
than I do. The same, more upbeat attitude might be attributed to Condit in
her essay in KB and Contemporary European Thought.) Language, along with its
attendant hierarchies, is our "sickness" as well as our "glory," KB says in
GM. We've "fallen" into language, dialectic, division, and drama Burke
opines in the '50's, '60's. and '70's. Les searingly limns the corrosive
element inherent in this aspect of Burke's "iron law":
The walls go up. They are real. They go up as far as the eye can see. The
corpse I found at the end of this trail I've been following is that of
hierarchy. Hierarchy is dead. I can see through its rib cage. It is no
less real...there it is all around us. But it is transparent, shaky,
illusory, like Drakula's Castle with its servants whom no one actually sees.
Yes, it still functions, little Hanno, but everyone must wear nose plugs and
pack some sort of weapon. The slightest wrong move, or an ill-placed word,
can truly shake this f_cker to the ground. But right back up it goes with
patches, band-aides, bullet proof vests, crutchlike supports. But I have
hope and spirit. There may one day be a more beautiful structure to walk
about in. I'm ready to work on it. Now that I think about it, I guess, in
my own little way, I've been working on it all along.
As a Protestant, I don't feel comforable picking on the Catholic Church,
especislly kicking it when it's down. What a an example, though, of the
danger "hierarchal magic" poses to those trapped within its seductive power.
Unbelievable, yet so sad, true, and apropos of Burke's philosphical warnings.
More anon, I hope.
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