[KB] Steve's question on Burke on guns

wessr at onid.orst.edu wessr at onid.orst.edu
Sat Sep 17 12:30:10 EDT 2011

Steve, an analogy to the PC passage that John quotes appears near the  
end of an Elizabeth Bishop poem, "Crusoe in England." Crusoe's knife  
became a sacred object when he depended on it for survival while alone  
on his island, but back in England it has become just one more object.


Quoting John McKenzie <jmckenzie2 at gmail.com>:

> Hi Steve,
> Check p. 206-207 of Burke's Permanence and Change (3rd ed), in the chapter
> "The Ethical Confusion" for a bit on guns:
> "And if a man lived alone in the woods, dependent for his livelihood upon
> the game which he shot for himself by his gun, I believe we should see a
> phenomenon that looked very much like a cult of 'Gun for Gun's Sake.' He
> would keep his gun in a favored spot, would probably clean it more often
> than necessary; on Sunday he might sit outside his cabin door and shoot at
> tincans--and if an accident happened to endanger its welfare, he might even
> risk his life in trying to save it, as were he to snatch at it when it was
> falling over a cliff."
> In the next paragraph he starts discussing "ethicized machinery."
> You might also check p. 82 of Robert Wess's *Kenneth Burke: Rhetoric,
> Subjectivity, Postmodernism* for a mention of this passage, and the fifth
> chapter of Barry Brummett's *A Rhetoric of Style* for his Burke influenced
> take on gun culture.
> Best,
> John
> ---
> John M. McKenzie, ABD
> Department of Communication Studies
> University of Texas
> and
> Instructor of Communication
> Lakeland College
> On Thu, Sep 15, 2011 at 11:00 AM, <kb-request at lists.purdue.edu> wrote:
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>> Today's Topics:
>>   1. Research Question: KB and Guns/NRA (Steve Holmes)
>> ---------- Forwarded message ----------
>> From: Steve Holmes <stevenkeoniholmes at gmail.com>
>> To: kb at lists.purdue.edu
>> Date: Thu, 15 Sep 2011 09:57:32 -0400
>> Subject: [KB] Research Question: KB and Guns/NRA
>> Greetings,
>> I wonder if any participants on the KB List would be able to point me to
>> any passages where KB deals with the issue of agency or symbolic action in
>> relationship to guns, the National Rifle Association, or a related
>> conversation. I already searched Jstor, other academic databases, and the
>> *KB Journal* and I was unable to locate any references. Hence, at Dave
>> Blakesley's advice, I thought I might query the community before I proceed
>> with Google Books searches of "gun," "NRA," or related terms within each of
>> Burke's major and minor texts.
>> Just for a bit of context, I am researching the question of symbolic
>> action/nonsymbolic motion through emerging conversations on nonhuman agency
>> in an attempt to extend a paper that I wrote in Dave's KB grad. seminar into
>> an article for publication. The example of gun violence and agency would
>> allow me to situate these conversations about nonhuman agency within a
>> well-established topoi (e.g. a complex description of the gun's
>> agency/instrumentality beyond the NRA's moral causation argument and against
>> various shades of social or materialist determination). Hence, I had hoped
>> that there might be an anecdote or a passage where Burke writes directly
>> about guns and agency in order to ground my comparisons between KB and
>> various proponents of nonhuman agency.
>> Thank you in advance for your consideration.
>> Best,
>> Steve
>> --
>> Steven Keoni Holmes
>> Assistant Director of
>> First Year Composition
>> Ph.D. Student
>> Rhetorics, Communication,
>> and Information Design
>> Strode 205
>> Clemson University
>> Clemson, SC 29634 USA
>> e-mail: skholme at clemson.edu
>> url: stevenkeoniholmes.com <http://www.stevenkeoniholmes.com>
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