Archive for the 'Rhetorical and Critical Theory' Category


Burke’s Counter-Statement

Kenneth Burke
Area: Rhetorical and Critical Theory
From Joshua Gunn’s summary

•    There can be no objective rule of taste which will determine by concepts what is beautiful. For every judgement from this source of taste is aesthetical; the feeling for the subject, not the concept of the object, is its determining ground. To seek for a principle of taste which will furnish, by means of definite concepts, a universal criterion of the beautiful is fruitless trouble, because what is sought is impossible and self contradictory” (par. 232).
Chapter One: Three Adepts of ‘Pure Literature’
•    A. Useful background: Burke discusses Gustave Flaubert, Walter Pater, and Remy de Gourmont
•    Pater is allied with Nietzsche in “one respect”: “both kept the theme of transvaluation [of values] well within the sphere of ceremony”(15), meaning that Pater preferred “ceremony” to “information.” Burke later seems to relate ceremony to the psychology of form.
•    “Art was ‘justified’ because art was an appetite – in being desired it found its ample reason for existence. Art did not require defense as an instrument of political or social reform. Art was purely and simply a privilege, to be prized as a cosmic exception” (16-17).
•    A method of analysis termed “dissociation,” which divides a concept “which we usually take as a unit” in order to draw out associative relationships that inhere in “desires” and “interests” (23).
Chapter Two: Psychology and Form
•    Form: “form would be the psychology of the audience. Or, seen from another angle, form is the creation of an appetite in the mind of the auditor, and the adequate satisfying of that appetite” (31).
•    Psychology of information: displaces the psychology of the audience with the psychology of the “hero” or subject; specific details and bits of information are valued over that of the whole. From this perspective, “one might denounce Cezanne’s trees in favor of state forestry bulletins” (32).
o    a) “Under such an attitude, when form is preserved it is preserved as an annex, a luxury, or as some feel, a downright affectation” (33).
o    b) The corresponding methods of sustaining interest “are surprise and suspense” (37).
•    Music is offered as the example par excellence of the psychology of form: “Here form cannot atrophy. Every dissonant chord cries for its solution, and whether the musician resolves or refuses to resolve this dissonance into the chord which the body cries for, he is dealing with human appetites” (34).
Chapter Three: The Poetic Process
•    Burke invokes the principle of crescendo (or “a general rise to a crisis”) as a chief characteristic of art: “Over and over again in the history of art, different material has been arranged to embody the principle of crescendo” (45). He then confidently asserts that the “work of art utilizes climatic arrangement because the human brain” has the potential to respond (“arrested, or entertained”) to climax.
•    However, the principle or concept of crescendo needs to be “individuated” in a particular work of art in order to evoke emotion.
•    Burke then glosses Plato’s theory of the forms as an illustration, and discusses the nominalist philosophy (which holds all one can know are “particulars”). Burke corrects the nominalists by modifying Plato’s conception of the universal forms – he sticks them in the mind: “So eager were the nominalists to disavow Plato in detail that they failed to discover the justice of his doctrines in essence. For we need but take his universals out of heaven and situation them in the human mind …, making them not metaphysical, but psychological” (48).
•    Thus, “we have the original emotion [or mood] which is channelized into a symbol. This symbol becomes a generative force, a relationship to be repeated in varying details, and thus makes for one aspect of technical form” (61). In other words, the consistency required by emotional form, once symbolized, requires a “logical consistency” too, which in turn is part of technical form.
Chapter Six: Program
•    The Thesis: “The present Program speculates as to which emotions and attitudes should be stressed, and which should be slighted, in the aesthetic judgment to the particular conditions of today” (107). What are these conditions?:
•    Mechanization and industrialism, which “affects our political institutions, as it alters our way of living … ” and so on (107).
•    A symbolic of the “past” and “future,” as represented by the “Agrarian” and the “Industrial.”
o    The Agrarian is the “morally conservative.”
o    The Industrialist is the progressive, yet the progressive whose agenda solidifies rather quickly and, though open to innovation “will usually be found to harbor a set of cultural retentions which completely undo” innovation (109).
o    The artist must play the intermediate.
Chapter Seven: Lexicon Rhetoricae
•    The Nature of Form: “Form in literature is the arousing and fulfillment of desires.” There are five aspects of form
o    Syllogistic progression (sub. of “progressive form”):” the form of a “perfectly conducted argument,” where, “given certain things, certain things must follow, the premises forcing the conclusion” (124).
o    Qualitative progression (sub of “progressive form”): the more subtle sort of progressive form, where “the presence of one quality prepares us for the introduction of another,” yet we only recognize the whole (“its rightness”) after the progression is complete. (124-125).
o    Repetitive form: “the constant maintaining of a principle under new guises. It is the restatement of the same thing in different ways” (125).
o    Conventional form: “involves to some degree the appeal of form as form.” There is an “element of ‘categorical expectancy,’ such that the gratifications of the reader are “anterior” to the reading” (126). Seems like the most basic of forms, simply expectations of the audience.
o    Minor or incidental forms: smaller sorts of form, such as “metaphor, paradox, disclosure, reversal, contraction, expansion, bathos, apostrophe, series, chiasmus … ” (127).
•    Burke then proceeds to further clarify (that is, complicate) the five aspects (or types) of form:
o    Interrelation of forms: The forms overlap and are not necessarily distinct in any one work (128).
o    Conflict of forms: The forms can compete, for added or destructive effect (129).
o    Rhythm, Rhyme: Burke identifies rhythm and rhyme as chiefly categorizable under the heading “repetitive form,” although can be described with the other sorts of forms too (130).
o    Significant Form: Forms are not necessarily wed to any one theme; that is, there is no essential correspondence between the peticularies of the subject matter and form. “In most cases we find formal designs or contrivances which impart emphasis regardless of their subject” (135). Burke shows how “talking at cross-purposes,” as a formal contrivance, yields different emotional effects in selections taken from Wilde, Wordsworth, and Racine (the former two for humor, the later for “tragic irony”).
•    The Individuation of Forms: In this section, Burke further elaborates and traces how form gets individuated (as he outlined in the “Poetic Process”).
o    Appeal of forms: Form is successful, or “‘correct’ insofar as it gratifies the need which it creates. The appeal of the form in this sense is obvious: form is the appeal” (138). Burke then discusses the five aspects of form in turn, fixating on the minor: ” … since the single sentence has form, we are forced by our thesis to consider the element of gratification in the sentence apart from his context” (139).
o    A special status is afforded to form as “exemplified in rhythm,” because “rhythm is more closely allied with ‘bodily processes.’ Systole and diastole, alternation of the feet in walking, inhalation and exhalation, up and down, in and out, back and forth, such are the types of distinctly motor experiences ‘tapped’ by rhythm” (140).
•    ‘Priority’ of forms: Though forms are not necessarily “prior to experience, they are certainly prior to the work of art exemplifying them.” (141). This seems to contradict the psychological universals he posits earlier, so he poo-poos the question by saying, “so far as the work of art is concerned they simply are … ” (141).
o    He then returns to his emphasis in earlier chapters on “capacities” (as “a command to act in a certain way”). Peculiar, confusing distinctions like this were sure to cause ire of many an analytical philosopher.
o    “The forms of art, to summarize, are not exclusively ‘aesthetic.’ They can be said to have a prior existence in the experiences of the person hearing or reading the work of art. They parallel processes which characterize his experience outside of art” (143).
•    Individuation of Forms: Further explanation. “A ‘metaphor is a concept, an abstraction – but a specific metaphor, exemplified by specific images, is an ‘individuation.’” (143).
•    Form and information: Because form is “embodied” or clothed by subject-matter, certain “diseases of form” can occur. These diseases come about when the subject-matter obscures the form or out-strips its “functional uses.” A balance must be struck between the intrinsic interesting effect of “information” and formal method/technique. Burke revisits the “psychology of information” and “psychology of business” stuff here. (144-145).
•    Form and Ideology: Burke vacillates between description and proscription. Ideology, because it shifts “from age to age” as well as “person to person,” can render the formal universals ineffective if not used and manipulated by the artist carefully. The artist often must appeal to ideology in order to individuate form (and thereby evoke the desired emotion). (146-147).
•    Re-individuation of forms: Burke maintains that re-individuation is the “best proof that there is ‘individuation’ ….” He offers the example of a “literal translation,” which basically rearticulates the form “with a complete change of matter [words].” Burke offers Joyce’s Ulysses as the “most elaborate re-individuation” of The Odyssey (148-149).


Bergson’s Creative Evolution

Henri Bergson
Creative Evolution
Area: Rhetorical and Critical Theory

•    Hence should result this consequence that our intellect, in the narrow sense of the word, is intended to secure the perfect fitting of our body to its environment, to represent the relations of external things among themselves— in short, to think matter. Such will indeed be one of the conclusions of the present essay.
•    In fact, we do indeed feel that not one of the categories of our thought— unity, multiplicity, mechanical causality, intelligent finality, etc.—applies exactly to the things of life: who can say where individuality begins and ends, whether the living being is one or many, whether it is the cells which associate themselves into the organism or the organism which dissociates itself into cells? In vain we force the living into this or that one of our moulds. All the moulds crack. They are too narrow, above all too rigid, for what we try to put into them.
•    True, it hurtles in its course against such formidable difficulties, it sees its logic end in such strange contradictions, that it very speedily renounces its first ambition. “It is no longer reality itself,” it says, “that it will reconstruct, but only an imitation of the real, or rather a symbolical image; the essence of things escapes us, and will escape us always; we move among relations; the absolute is not in our province; we are brought to a stand before the Unknowable.”—But for the human intellect, after too much pride, this is really an excess of humility.
•    Intellectual knowledge, in so far as it relates to a certain aspect of inert matter, ought, on the contrary, to give us a faithful imprint of it, having been stereotyped on this particular object. It becomes relative only if it claims, such as it is, to present to us life— that is to say, the maker of the stereotype-plate.
•    On other paths, divergent from it, other forms of consciousness have been developed, which have not been able to free themselves from external constraints or to regain control over themselves, as the human intellect has done, but which, none the less, also express something that is immanent and essential in the evolutionary movement.
•    This amounts to saying that theory of knowledge and theory of life seem to us inseparable. A theory of life that is not accompanied by a criticism of knowledge is obliged to accept, as they stand, the concepts which the understanding puts at its disposal: it can but enclose the facts, willing or not, in pre-existing frames which it regards as ultimate.
•    a theory of knowledge which does not replace the intellect in the general evolution of life will teach us neither how the frames of knowledge have been constructed nor how we can enlarge or go beyond them. It is necessary that these two inquiries, theory of knowledge and theory of life, should join each other, and, by a circular process, push each other on unceasingly.
•    In the first chapter, we try on the evolutionary progress the two ready-made garments that our understanding puts at our disposal, mechanism and finality; 1 we show that they do not fit, neither the one nor the other, but that one of them might be recut and resewn, and in this new form fit less badly than the other.
•    In order to transcend the point of view of the understanding, we try, in our second chapter, to reconstruct the main lines of evolution along which life has travelled by the side of that which has led to the human intellect.
•    The intellect is thus brought back to its generating cause, which we then have to grasp in itself and follow in its movement. It is an effort of this kind that we attempt— incompletely indeed— in our third chapter.
•    A fourth and last part is meant to show how our understanding itself, by submitting to a certain discipline, might prepare a philosophy which transcends it.


Nealon’s Alterity Politics

Jeffrey Nealon
Alterity Politics: Ethics and Performative Subjectivity
Area: Rhetorical and Critical Theory

•    Leans towards more ethically unfamiliar notions: responses to the inhuman, the chiasmus, exemplarity, anger, and becoming other
•    Ethical response is the production of social relations, rather than the tracing of preexisting ethical templates
•    Butler: theories of otherness/alterity close with an embarrassing “etc.”
•    Identity politics: thematize according to sameness
•    Alterity politics: considers identity responsive first to the other
•    Ethics concerns itself with general theoretical structures and specific concrete responses
o    Reemergence based on the combo of political and theoretical
•    Performative responsibility
•    Refusal of lack
•    The specific “I” that lacks wholeness is symptomatic of the generalized “we” lacking wholeness
•    Linguistic turn—any state of sameness requires difference to restructure
•    Hegel: every individual is dependent on the possibility of constant reassurance by the other
•    Subjective differences through postmodern excess ≠ modernist lack
•    Every group must share the lack—mourn collectively
•    Discourse of identity’s lack (failure to attain the idea) tends to level all identity ‘failures’ on the same plane
•    A notion of difference-as-lack underestimates the productive qualities of alterity
•    Identity and difference: not an effect of loss, but instead produce effects
•    The excess-that-is-lack
2: “Why is it so difficult to ‘situate’ and respond to a set of specific others—ethically, politically, or theoretically—and what does the difficult of doing so teach us about identity politics and the possibility of what I call an alterity politics? Can this ‘failure’ of sameness be rethematized as an affirmation of difference? What possibilities are there for concrete responses that do not merely or finally reduce otherness to a subset of the same, to a subset of an inquiring subject’s identity?”
10: “Thus the homogeneity—or, in Laclau and Mouffe’s parlance, the hegemony—of ‘the people’ must be thought in the double time: the time of the nation, the people, and the same becomes the time of difference’s exclusion, a presence constantly interrupted by the alterity of an impossibility or void at the origin.”
12: “As Deleuze polemically maintains, ‘Those who bear the negative know not what they do.’ In other words, whereas its proponents take the process of loss and mourning to be an ethical expropriation of the subject, for Deleuze this process is actually the assured movement of a resentful subjectivity.  Those who tarry with the negative, he suggests, know all too well what they do: they know that totalization will fail, the subject will be frustrated, promises will inexorable be broken.”
14: “A response, Derrida argues, is always a ‘response in deed, at work rather in the series of strategic negotiations…response does not respond to a problem or a question, it responds to the other—for the other.”


Baudrillard’s The Vital Illusion

Jean Baudrillard
The Vital Illusion
Area: Rhetorical and Critical Theory
Chapter 1: The Final Solution: Cloning beyond the Human and Inhuman

•    Cancer cells forget to die—forget how to die
•    Only by obtaining the power to die, that we live
o    We’re now eclipsing this with cloning
•    Freud’s death drive: nostalgia for a state before appearance of individuality and sexual differentation—state before were mortal and distinct from one another
•    First, sex was liberated from reproduction, now reproduction is liberated from sex
o    Sex is becoming a useless function
•    Death, once a vital function, could become a luxury
o    When death is eliminated, the luxury of dying increases: cyberdeath
•    Durable and contradictory movement: humankind tries to build itself a deathless alterego and at the same time to perfect natural selection through artificial selection
o    Puts an end to natural selection
•    “The specter that haunts genetic manipulation is the genetic idea, a perfect model obtained through the elimination of all negative traits”
•    Behind the Rights of Man are the prerogatives of an endangered species
•    The loss of the human is serious, but the loss of the inhuman is just as serious
•    In process of erasing the distinction between human and inhuman by reconciling them
•    Clone overthrowing the father (not the sleep with the mother) but to regain status as the original
•    Life is preserved as long as it is has exchange value
15-6: “If we discover that not everything can be cloned, simulated, programmed, genetically and neurologically managed, then whatever survives could truly be called ‘human’: some inalienable and indesctructible human quality could finally be identified.”
22: “Once the human is no longer defined in terms of transcendence and liberty, but in terms of functions and of biological equilibrium, the definition of the human itself begins to fade, along with that of humanism.”
Chapter 2: The Millennium, or The Suspense of the Year 2000
•    Cleansing is the prime activity of this fin-de-siecle
o    Turning away from history ‘in progress’
o    Nothing’s been resolved, plunging into a regressive history
•    Time is counted by subtraction—starting → end
•    Fanatical memorization: commemorations, rehabilitations, cultural museification
o    Making the past itself into a clone
o    Instead of first existing, works of art go straight into a museum
•    Makes of excess (ecstasy of the body: obesity—fatter than fat; ecstasy of information: simulation—truer than true)
•    But is a ghost history, a spectral history, still a history?
•    If Foucault can analyze power it’s because power no longer has a definition that can properly be called political
51: “That the system of information has been substituted for that of history and is starting to produce events in the same way that Capital is starting to produce Work.  Just as labor, under these circumstances, no longer has any significance of its own, the event produced by information has ho historical meaning of its own.  This is the point where we enter the transhistorical or transpolitical—that is to say, the sphere where events do not really take place precisely because they are produced and broadcast ‘in real time,’ where they have no meaning because they can have all possible meanings.”
Chapter 3: The Murder of the Real
•    No corpse, no victim
•    The Real is disappearing because there is too much of it
o    Excess brings end
•    Illusion is the general rule of the universe; reality is but an exception
65: “This short circuit and instantaneity of all things in global information we call ‘real time.”  Real time can be seen as a Perfect Crime perpetrated against time itself: for with the ubiquity and instant availability of the totality of information, time reaches its point of perfection, which is also its vanishing point.  Because of course a perfect time has no memory and no future.”
82: “Either we think of technology as the exterminator of Being, the exterminator of the secret, of seduction and appearances, or we imagine that technology, by the way of an ironic reversibility, might be an immense detour toward the radical illusion of the world.”


Walker’s Rhetoric and Poetics in Antiquity

Jeffrey Walker
Rhetoric and Poetics in Antiquity
Area: Rhetorical and Critical Theory
From Kirby’s Review

•    An era obsessed with text and textuality, a book on rhetoric and poetics has emerged urgently central
•    Hesiod and Aristotle conceived of poetics in rhetorical terms
•    Walker’s interpretation of mimesis too narrow:
o    Doesn’t account for the verbal mimesis of poetry
o    The rhetor is performing a version of himself from a script provided by the logographer.  Rhetoric has mimetic aspects, just as Aristotelian mimesis is rhetorical
•    Walker misinterprets houtos ekenios:
o    Doesn’t refer to the noetic experience of poetry
o    Does mean the cognitive connection between visual images and the things they represent
•    While Walker tries to downplay the role of Aristotle, he relies heavily on the Aristotelian system
•    Throwback to Schiappa’s question of whether and how the naming of a thing alters our understanding of it
580: “what came to be called rhetoric was neither originally nor essentially an art of practical civic oratory-rather . . . it originated from an expansion of the poetic/epideictic domain, from ‘song’ to ‘speech’ to ‘discourse’ generally … although there certainly were changes in sociopolitical conditions and rhetorical practices, there was no ‘decline of rhetoric’ in any meaningful sense in either the Hellenistic or the Roman period” (ix). In parts 3 and 4 he develops “a notion of rhetorical poetics that can be found embodied in archaic poetry” and discusses “the gradual occlusion of this notion in the grammatical tradition and the ‘grammaticalized’ rhetoric and poetics transmitted from the Middle Ages to early modernity” (x).  This history is recounted from a “‘sophistic’ or neosophistic rather than a neo- Aristotelian perspective” (xi); as Walker says, Plato and Aristotle “play less central roles in my discussion than some readers might expect”
581: But for Walker, the Poetics embodies a “double vision” by which Aristotle, on the one hand, presupposes a “fundamentally rhetorical conception of poetic discourse” (281) while,  n the other, simultaneously occluding its “rhetorical, argumentative, suasory character.”
From Hill’s review:
•    A sophist’s history of rhetoric
From Enos’ review:
•    Rhetoric and poetry share a common origin and are tied together as epideictic discourse
•    Insofar as epideictic is the primary form of rhetoric, and poetry is the original and ultimate form of epideictic, poetry is also the original and ultimate form of rhetoric
•    This book would benefit by stressing how all oral poetry is rhythmical and how euphony is an important feature for memory and arrangement would help readers to understand what Ong calls the “psychodynamics” of orality
•    If rhetoric was in ‘decline’ (as many historians of rhetoric describe) whey does it actually prosper?


DeLanda’s Intensive Science and Virtual Philosophy

Manuel DeLanda
Intensive Science and Virtual Philosophy
Area: Rhetorical and Critical Theory

•    Not a direct interpretation of Deleuze’s work, but a reconstruction
o    Robust to changes in theoretical assumptions and strategies
•    Three types of ontological commitments:
o    “For some philosophers reality has no existence independently from the human mind that perceives it, so their ontology consists mostly of mental entities, whether these are thought as transcendent objects or, on the contrary, as linguistic representations or social conventions.  Other philosophers grant to the objects of everyday experience a mind-independent existence, but remaining unconvinced that theoretical entities, whether unobservable relations such as physical causes, or unobservable entities such as electrons, possess such an ontological autonomy.  Finally, there are philosophers who grant reality full autonomy from the human mind, disregarding the difference between the observable and the unobservable, and the anthropocentrism this distinction implies.  These philosophers are said to have a realist ontology.”
•    Essence: a core set of properties that defines what these objects are
•    Importance and relevance – not truth – are the key concepts in Deleuze’s epistemology
From the Wiki:
•    Process-based realist philosophy
•    Deleuze’s realist philosophies don’t rely on essences
o    In the virtual, essences are replaced with multiplicities
•    Multiplicities: concrete sets of singularities or attractions
•    Deleuze’s time – heterochronous
o    “series of nested presents” (coupling of multiplicities)
•    Minor v. Royal science
o    M: pragmatic, laboratory science (more importance on well-formed problems then generalized solutions)
o    R: prestigious, proscriptive science
•    Seven core ontological components
* The (abstract) depth or spatium in which intensities are organised. Deleuzian synonyms: ‘machinic phylum’, ‘plane of consistency’, ‘Body without Organs’.
* The disparate series (multiplicities) these form and the fields of individuation they outline. Deleuzian synonyms: ‘vague essences’, ‘becomings’, ‘partial objects’, ‘concepts’.
* The ‘dark precursor’ (line of flight) which causes them to communicate. Deleuzian synonyms: ‘aleatory or paradoxical point’, ‘desiring machine’, ‘nonsense’, ‘object=x’, ‘quasi-cause’, ‘conceptual personae’.
* The linkages, resonances and movements which result (the dynamism of this system). Deleuzian synonyms: ‘convergence and divergence’, ‘forced movement’.
* The constitution of ‘passive selves’ in the system, and the formation of pure spatio-temporal dynamisms (the intensive). Deleuzian synonyms: ‘intensive individuals’, ‘larval subjects’, ‘monads (from Leibniz).
* The qualities and extensions differentiated into (the actual/extensive). Deleuzian synonyms: ‘forms and substances’
* The centres of envelopment. Deleuzian synonyms: ‘codes’.
From Bogard’s Review:
•    DeLanda defies the actual as metric space and linear time
o    How the actual emerges from the virtual as an immanent casual
•    “Whereas the actual is extended and differentiated in space and time, the virtual is intensive and formless.”
o    Science of the virtual must be one of the intensities, not extensities
•    Detailed descriptions of becoming-actual, but less time on the problem of becoming-virtual, or how the actual becomes virtual
2: “His depiction of the virtual is approached via several interrelated problems:  in terms of how multiplicities arise and differentiate themselves within virtual space, in terms of how phenomena that comprise the virtual must be characterized as “pre-individualized,” non-personal, impassive and abstract, how the virtual is a formless plane (of consistency, immanence, etc.) upon which singularities are distributed, extended and serialized into ordinary points, and so on.  The virtual, De Landa notes, has corporeal causes, i.e., it is produced by actual material processes, but is itself incorporeal and autonomous from those causes (in De Landa’s words, its dynamics are abstract and “mechanism independent”), and the relations that form between virtual multiplicities are “quasi-causal” or, as Foucault would characterize it, relations among effects of effects.”


Auerbach’s Mimesis

Erich Auerbach
Mimesis: The Representation of Reality in Western Literature
Area: Rhetorical and Critical Theory
From class

•    Bible: God is the effect, not the cause, of Jewish idea
o    Lack of classical idea in Jewish tradition
o    Bible: chosen—personal fate
•    Serious Realism
•    Objective Seriousness
•    Modern Realism
•    Jubilant background and putting people into this
•    Post-Reality from recalling consciousness: Proust
From: David Carroll’s “Mimesis Reconsidered”
•    Concept of reality is problematical
•    Distrust of “systems”: historical explanation/product of the times
o    Absence of authentic communities of thought
•    “All have been destroyed and replaced by preconceived ideological systems which no longer serve a positive function but only serve the interests of particular factions.”
•    No confidence in systems, but complete confidence in man
o    “Man, free of al constraints, al ideologies and philosophies, man as a product of his time but still able to understand others ‘spontaneously,’ man as a concept which is not part of any system but ‘natural’—it is this ‘man’ that one finds throughout Mimesis” (6).
•    Randomness: the changeability of the real
•    The real becomes “externalized,” that is spatialized, so that it can be seized as a full presence.  The eye is supposedly able to capture immediately this externalization of what is.
7: “The real will be defined in each essay as ‘random’ and be characterized by its difference from what is defined as unreal.  Its principal characteristic will be change: imitation of reality is “imitation of the sensory experience of life on earth—among the most essential characteristics of which would seem to be its possessing a history, its changing and developing.  Whatever freedom the imitating artist may be granted in his work, he cannot be allowed to deprive reality of this characteristic, which is its very essence.”  The sense of this ‘randomness,’ the changeability of the real, will become clear as Auerbach proceeds and opposes the ‘random’ to all the pitfalls of philosophy and ideology.  A work is considered to be realistic, therefore, only when it is able to fulfill a series of negative conditions.”
9: “That the senses are free and have an immediate and original contact with the real is a philosophical argument, however, and not a statement of ‘common sense,’ a natural, unquestioned truth.  It should not be impossible to find, therefore, the system which organizes and makes sense out of phenomena, which logically precedes and thus ‘determines’ the moment in which the sense are in contact with the real.”
9: “At each step along the way an immediacy is argued for which would eliminate any difference or distance between the ‘original’ perception and its repeated representation. What Auerbach’s theory of the real posits is the continual repetition of the Same.”
10: “The real as a concept tends to function in Mimesis in the same way that Derrida contends other ‘metaphysical’ concepts (such as being, identity, self, etc.) work: to deny the complexity of the written, to deemphasize the process of interpretation by finalizing it, to dismiss the existence of other levels of meaning and of a plurality of senses for the unity of a single sense—in other words, to reduce in this instance the different levels of historical reality and the problematic nature of the real (the stated goal of Mimesis being to capture this complexity) to a unity, to an acceptable level of comprehension in order for it to be grasped immediately in the plenitude of a full present.”

December 2018
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