[KB] Question about Resistance to Burke

Edappel8@cs.com 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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