[KB] Publish and Perish?
brud0025 at umn.edu
Tue Jul 15 10:08:26 EDT 2008
Greetings again John, Ed, Camille, Carroll and others,
So much controversy rages over the category of romance/romantic that people
often fly back into the arms of classic literature and conservative
philosophy and criticism. I suppose I would characterize Burkes way of
thinking as a sustained revolutionary attitude toward what should remain
permanent and what should change. I think I hear a hopeful chorus out there
(or Im paranoid): Back that up! Back that up! So Ill make what is called
an Immelmann Turn, (G. ace, 1890-1916), quite risky under the
circumstances, but it is a way of gaining altitude while making a 180
degree change of direction and then flipping over. Most of us have seen
this flying maneuver in movies like Waldo Pepper so it has become pretty
commonplace. In the recent Villanova conference seminar I had the germ of
an idea, just a little dialectical countermovement which I dared not voice
at the time, it amounted to the following: is transcendence anything other
than what weve come to understand by the term objectivity?
Thats not all. It appears to me that subjectivity has been deconstructed
as cruelly as objectivity, leaving simply no room in which to maneuver:
agents flattened out, interiors aired and found to be only more surfaces,
gossamer that disappears under the microscope, not to mention the
decomposition of space and time into I dont know what.. I suppose this
justifies the romantic philosophical move toward anti-foundationalism, with
which we are still trying to come to grips. This is a contradiction isnt
it? Coming to grips with something that cannot be grasped. Hence the flip
and then the twist.
Not to play leap frog in a hall of mirrors, but what I have been reading
about the Romantic Circle surrounding Novalis (David W. Wood, Notes for a
Romantic Encyclopedia; Katie Terezakis, The Immanent Word, etc.), suggests
that the linguistic and rhetorical turns of the 20th century were not
unprecedented, that romanticism as philosophy and art was a form of
transcendence through immanence of an enlightenment which had grown
despotic, which had, in fact, become an Illuminism, a dangerous, however
exciting, underground movement to topple monarchies and religions and usher
in the modern world.
Reaction there was; we live in that reaction. But what is also eternally
true is that imagination and enthusiasm will always try to break out of
I think I heard whispered at Villanova several times in the presentations
the word emergence. One can feel starting on the top of ones head a
prickly sensation running in a line down the back. (Or is that just a
sunburn from sitting last evening with my back to the sun?). What is
unsatisfactory to me about the absence of a third way through the
Comedy/Tragedy thicket is that, in both, action is killed off. People are
either accepted the way they are or killed off, sacrificed or
self-sacrificed. We kill with laughter or we kill with our hands. But where
is adventure, the less dramatic form of action and struggle sans catharsis?
I think this is where John Hatch is going with his rhetoric of
reconciliation: a heroic transcendence of conflicts past and present.
(hell have to clarify this for me as I finish reading his presentation he
was gracious enough to send).
As we are aware Burke is really talking about killing principles no bodies,
about transformation at a higher level; he is extremely reticent and
cryptic when it comes to action. Perhaps you can understand that I am
much dissatisfied with Burkes treatment of epic, and his
underhand/underground appropriation of the romantic frame. He doesnt
appear to want to separate religion from ethics. In this way I think he
harnesses the power of shame and embarrassment, but this reactionary move
has a tendency to backfire.
Ed wrote on Bastille Day, in response to John:
Burke himself actually puts the two frames together [epic and tragedy] in
the footnote on p. 36 [ATH]: "Insofar as the tragically and epically heroic
approaches a purely nonreligious emphasis, it approaches the risks of
coxcombry." This demurrer, on Burke's part, serves as a point in favor of
the melodramatists in our ranks
A coxcomb is a jesters cap adorned with a strip of red; another meaning is
a conceited foolish person. Note that Burke only says approaches the
risks of foolhardiness. This would appear to associate comedy with
non-religious or secular point(s) of view. Clearly were again upon the
threshold of nice and not nice varieties of comedy (the burlesque and
satirical vs the tolerant). Also weve returned to Camilles attempt to
introduce comic romance into religious rhetoric. While Romancing this
difference I think Bob Jones University took issue with Burkes/Camilles
implication that The Truth was little more than a thoroughly rhetorical
use of words (a carrot with a little c). Through that crack in the dike we
saw Intolerance erupt with bitter and tragic results. Or was it merely
Ah, time, duty calls, work, the reaction, the always inadequate structure
from within which we plot new approximations of a satisfactory life.
Action? Why, its has moved underground.
ps: Interesting post by Jim Moore just popped up on my screen. Glad hes
back. He writes: Epic tries to be transcendent--Novel is shamelessly
immanent. Hes quoting Bakhtin; I only have his work on Rabelais.
No time to comment now but the following bit expresses a common view of
immanence: that it is something to be shunned whatever the cost. Maybe!
Maybe Not! Is there really shame in being thoroughly immersed in your time
and culture, of engaging the epic and romantic element of being and acting
without excessive analysis and criticism? Looking forward to addressing
Immanence is imminent; transcendence is eminent. (argh!, I tried).
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