[KB] Warrantable Outrage
Edappel8 at cs.com
Wed May 28 16:40:23 EDT 2008
>From Greg Desilet, back from his holiday hiatus:
Very provocative! It gets me to scratching my head! Here's a response that
grew out of a response to Herb (and Leslie) as well.
Herb, I like what you said in this post on the KB listserve addressed to
tragically purifying nor comically correcting, the sectarian
unequivocally and unalterably woos its Other. When tragedy kills and
comedy critiques, the suitor charms. The evil enemy, which the comic
transforms into a mistaken adversary, becomes a Beloved in the
romantic's sight. The cultural ideal that goads the tragic and tickles
the comic, personifies the romantic. Romantic sectarians identify not
through victimage or criticism but through wooing--- irresistible beauty
coupled with its Other outside the dominant frame.
It adds a new and interesting dramatistic slant to the issue regarding
possible attitudes toward conflict and human relations. Leslie's comments on the KB
listserve of May 21 about "epic romance" are an excellent second to your
motion. The romantic frame calls to mind Wayne Brockriede's famous "Arguers as
Lovers" article, which has had considerable influence on me over the years (Wayne
was my advisor and mentor while working on my M.A. degree at CU in the mid '70s
). The range of attitudes for approaching argumentation and the attitudes for
approaching conflict (conflict also the heart of drama as Burke notes) are
closely analogous. The obstacles, opportunities, and problematics of both are
However, the romantic frame establishes an orientation to the other that, as
Brockriede notes, is not without its "ambiguities." When does "wooing" slide
from "love" to "seduction" to "date rape" to "rape"? And thereby
"objectification" and dehumanization of the other? Other questions: Should we (can we)
maintain a rhetoric of "romancing" the opposition in the case of violent
aggression, conflict, or war?
Does Ed's post providing his re-write of Roosevelt's Dec 8 speech to Congress
emerge as a possible candidate for a rhetoric of "romancing" the opposition?
Indeed, what would a rhetoric of "romancing" look like in such a situation?
What should it look like? Roosevelt's actual address reports the events and
avoids demonizing language while initiating military mobilization. Should he have
said something further to frame the conflict? In keeping with the metaphor of
romance, should words like "rape" have been invoked to frame the nature of the
experienced aggression? Having done so, how does one "romance" the rapist?
(Brockriede's "Arguers as Lovers" offers little guidance in this instance,
though it does suggest the downside of adopting the attitude of the rapist as an
offensive defense). It's certainly a challenging and instructive exercise to put
oneself in the position of President and attempt to figure out what ought to
be said in such situations in order to properly motivate the citizenry while
at the same time framing the opposition for purposes of minimizing the
potential human costs arising from slipping into the "Iron Law of History" and
scapegoating with a vengeance. How does such a rhetoric, with its attention to these
complexities, avoid appearing as itself a kind of outrage to a wounded
citizenry? Quite a challenge for the rhetorician and for leadership. But a challenge
that no doubt needs to be met in a world full of weapons of mass destruction.
Isn't that quotation attributed to Herb actually taken from Camille
Lewis's article in the current KB Journal? I think so.
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