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engl 71 - presentation

engl 71 - presentation - Graig Peterson February 7 2005...

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Graig Peterson February 7, 2005 English 71 Professor Pease Ahab’s Failed Rhetoric “…but Ahab never thinks; he only feels, feels, feels; that’s tingling enough for mortal man! To think’s audacity. God only has the right and privilege. Thinking is, or ought to be, a coolness and a calmness; and our poor hearts throb, and our poor brains beat too much for that” – Captain Ahab on 419. Paul de Man’s “Resistance to Theory” Explained o Classical notion of the Liberal Arts: 1. Trivium – language arts (grammar, logic, and rhetoric) 2. Quadrivium – non-verbal sciences, ways of representing the phenomenal world (arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, and music) o Within the trivium, grammar can be thought of as the linguistic extension of logic - Both transfer denotative or literal meaning o Rhetoric is the text-driven function that garners verbal energy from the interplay of tropes. o Tropes – OED defn: “a figure of speech using words in non-literal ways” - these lingual devices convey language’s movement and ability to persuade a reader. - etymology: in 15 th Century, tropes referred to the sexual part of a flower - examples: metaphor, metonymy, chiasmus, etc. Ahab Reconsidered o “In the great Sperm Whale, this high and mighty god-like dignity inherent in the brow is so immensely amplified, that, gazing on it, in that full front view, you feel the Deity and the dread powers more forcibly than in beholding any other object in living nature” (274). o Rhetoric of hyper-religious o “All visible objects, man, are but as pasteboard masks. But in each event—in the living act, the undoubted deed—there some unknown but still reasoning thing puts forth the mouldings of its features from behind the unreasoning mask. If man will strike, strike through the mask! …Who’s over me? Truth has no confines.” o The psycho-dialectic breaks down. Rhetoric used to stand in for the
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introverted part of his psyche and as a solicitation for action to overcome thought. Lacan Explicated A child cannot enter into the symbolic order without conceiving of absence—this absence is present in language as well, as Lacan proves language to be a function of longing. Critic Linda Gregerson writes: “because it can never be fulfilled, this vision of personal autonomy and completeness, this beautiful mistake, governs all future cathexis [the libidinal energy invested in some idea or person or object] all the intricate, lifelong attachments to metamorphosing objects of desire…without the misapprehension and subsequent reformation of the image, human subjectivity has no ground.” 1 Language is governed by desire for completeness, and this lexical slippage theoretically implies that complete meaning can never be arrived at. The self, through language, is always already trying to recover the pre-Mirror Stage condition of interconnectedness and wholeness.
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