[KB] Question about Resistance to Burke
Edappel8 at cs.com
Thu Dec 6 15:05:04 EST 2007
OK, I surrender. My hands, both of them, are up. Go ahead and frisk
In response to Bob's post: If we're gonna play "in the beginning," I
suggest John go to Rueckert's Critical Responses to Kenneth Burke and read the
screeds by Black (forget his first name) and Sidney Hook. Both were
establishment philosophers, a field in which, to my knowledge, Burke has made no dent.
Black slays GM and Hook savages ATH. Take a look, John.
A common complaint about Burke is that he's too wedded to Christianity
and the West to be universally relevant. Art Bochner, I think, made that
assault. So did a presenter at an ECA convention I once attended. Either
Chesebro or Condit leveled that charge in their QJS piece. Tompkins and Cheney
responded appropriately, in my judgment: Burke uses the Christian drama of
salvation as paradigm for the terms for order because it's the most "perfect" and
most accessible example at hand for his audience. The terms of the
guilt-redemption cycle are applicable to all human dramas, terrestrial or transcendental,
necessary changes being made for genre (say, tragedy or comedy) and culture.
I have a chapter in an MS. I've been working on off and on that
illustrates the way Burke's conception of the human drama plays out in family life,
school and college, the work place, social relaltionships, law enforcement,
and, of course, religion. Show me any institution and/or hierarchy in any
nation or culture---modern, intermediate, archaic, or primitive---where Burke's
paradigm does not apply, mutatis mutandis. Where there's language and the
hortatory negative, there are rules of relationship.
Where there are rules of relationship that maintain those herarchies, there's
Hey, I had an experience like Randall Jarrell's. During my first
semester of M. A. work at the University of Delaware, Burke gave a lecture. I
knew nothing of him at the time. Burke's speech was totally incomprehesible,
even though, as I recall, his articulation was better at that time (this was in
the fall of 1969) than it was later, say at the Temple Conference in 1984.
To the Randall Jarrell's of the world, I would simply say, read the
guy. You might still dismiss him as an obsure, meandering waste. You might,
however, find nuggets of insight and wisdom not located elsewhere.
Maybe I didn't surrender, just faked it.
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