Posts Tagged ‘metaphor


Kittler’s Discourse Networks 1800/1900

Friedrich Kittler
Discourse Networks: 1800/1900
Area: History of Rhetoric and Memory Studies
From Thomas Sebastian’s Review

•    The book is “‘thoroughly informed by post-structuralism’” but especially because it avoids a discussion of post-structuralist theory altogether, engaging instead in a radical application of its practice.
•    Post-hermeneutics: a criticism that “stops making sense”
•    “Discourse analysis, he argues, must be transformed into an ‘archaeology of the present’ by considering the material and technical conditions that permit discourse storage in the first place.”
•    “It follows that the status of literary texts is also determined by what one might calls this technicist perspective:
o    Discourse analyses…have to be materialistic.  An elementary datum is the fact that literature (whatever else it might mean to readers) processes, stores, and transmits data, and that such operations in the age-old medium of the alphabet have the same technical positivity as they do in computers.”
•    “As a result Kittler takes the fictive content of literary texts at face value as though the projections of a literary text are tantamount to eh historical reality from whci it emerges.”
•    “The epochally inopertune is thus excluded by the fable of two mutually exclusive historical orders.  Their relationship, determined by a categorical paradigm clearly recognizable as a construct, is based on a simple oppositional series: 1900 is to 1800 as signifier to signified, writing to speech, insanity to sanity, untranslatability to translatability, anarchy to state, outside to inside.  Kittler’s history describes the inversion of one order unto the other.”
•    “Kittler advances ‘woman’ somewhat crudely as a ‘presignifying talking machine’ in order to conceive of literature around 1800 as a recording system in the sense of technical medium.  ‘Woman,’ however, does not refer to ‘the women’ around 1800 as historical individuals, but rather those ‘mothers’ who Kittler believes to have discovered in the metaphoricity of literary, philosophical and pedagogical texts of that time as the instance which, according to Lacan, ‘causes speech but does not itself speak.’”
•    “A shift was made form learning complete words and phrases to the phonetic approach of oralizing the consonants and syllables of the alphabet. But the success of this ‘coercive act of alphabetizing’ was not merely initiated by a pedagogical shift to phonetics in High German orthography but rather, according to Kittler, because this measure was associated with the body of ‘biographical’ mothers.”
•    “’Man’—a word not simply problematic, but one that has become utterly devoid of content for Kittler—is a machine in a larger complex of machines […]  The principle governing this universe is energy consumption or ‘exhaustion.’ Just as machines ultimately break down and wear out, so, too, does Man as machine.”
•    “For Kittler, translating around 1900 is no longer the translating of signifieds (as he claims it was in 1800), but is instead simply based on relationships between signifiers.  Kittler calls these interlinear translations ‘transpositions of media’; he presumably uses this term in order to metaphorically rule out all doubt that this transposition of media is still a hermeneutical procedure.”
•    “Kittler thinks of technology merely as a technical apparatuses in their empirical facticity and not, like Foucault, as a function of knowledge.  And Kittler does not recognize that if he replaces language by technologies—conceived of as such empirical apparatuses—then everything that Foucault says about language holds true precisely for technology.”
•    “As Heidegger, for example, would argue, this is precisely an anthropological definition of technology, namely technology as man’s supplementing instrument, since man has been considered a zoon technocon since Aristotle at the latest.”


Fahnestock’s Rhetorical Figures in Science

Jeanne Fahnestock
Rhetorical Figures in Science
Area: Digital Media

•    To what extent does language do our thinking for us?
•    Moves beyond the metaphor and tropes allied to the metaphor
o    Antithesis, gradatio, incrementation, antimetabole, ploche, polyptoton
•    Rhetoric: general pejorative connotation as verbal deceit
•    Aristotle is still worth consulting
o    ≠ Walker who tries to move away from Aristotleian critique but still uses it in his own work
•    Antithesis: opposed terms in symmetrical phrases (Aristotle’s definition)
o    “Buy low, sell high”
•    Antimetabole: no center, a mechanism for reversing the syntactic positions of two terms and in the process reversing their grammatical and conceptual relation to each other
o    “Those who know don’t tell, and those who tell don’t know”
o    Expresses identity claims, especially in geometry
•    Figures of repetition:
o    Ploche: precise repetition of a term within or across several sentences
•    Perfect repetition
o    Polyptoton: recurrence of the same roof in various forms
•    (Figure, figured, figural, figurally)
•    Create families of coordinate terms for transfer
•    We might pursue a ‘one mind’ hypothesis, that the same cognitive/verbal skills serve any subject of inquiry
viii: “These approaches are fruitful and satisfying when the goal is an appreciation of a work in its intellectual or cultural moment or an assessment of its role in an argument field.  But this book is more concerned with the technique of rhetoric itself, specifically with certain linguistic constructions called figures of speech.  Thus rhetoric is used in this study to illuminate scientific arguments, but, more importantly here, scientific arguments are used to illuminate rhetoric.”
ix-x: “The incrementum is a series whose members share an attribute in increasing or decreasing degree and an gradatio is a series whose members overlap but need not possess the same quality.  Series reasoning is used to create places for terms—beginning, end, or middle—a case in point being the construction of fossil series to explain living forms.  Incomplete series, or series with holes, can provide a rationale for identifying missing elements, a tactic used in the nineteenth century to create and fill the periodic table of elements and in the eighteenth to predict the existence of a missing planet between Mars and Jupiter.  Overlapping series, on the model of the gradatio, are used to establish set relations and causal chains, as examples from ecological arguments demonstrate, and series are also used to dissolve established differences between categories and so to refigure a conceptual domain, replacing differences in kind by differences in degree.”
xi: “But scientific arguments are chosen to illustrate the devices for several reasons.   First is clarity. Scientific arguments, as arguments supporting claims about the way nature is or works, tend to give their main lines of reasoning a high profile; they are, in terms of the argumentative strategies looked at here, fairly open objects of analysis. Second, scientific arguers often resort to visual persuasion, so it is possible to follow certain figures of speech into their expression as ‘figures’ in another sense.  This consistency between the visual and verbal helps to underscore the fundamental conceptual processes expressed by figures.  Third, scientific arguments are used here to weaken the old misconception that the domain of rhetoric does not extend to the sciences since rhetorical invention presumably prescribes only the reassembly of conventional truths, while scientific invention involves the discovery of new truths.  The ‘new science’ of the seventeenth century deliberately exaggerated its break with the prevailing intellectual and pedagogical tradition—that it, with rhetoric—as part of its campaign to inspire inquiry.  But language does do much of our thinking for us, even in the sciences, and rather than being an unfortunate contamination, its influence has been productive historically, helping individual thinkers generate concepts and theories that can then be put to rest.”
From Katz’s Review:
•    “Fahnestock examines how verbal (and to a lesser extent in this book visual) forms not only increase the clarity and persuasiveness of scientific discourse but also stylistically reflect the process of scientific reasoning and the structure of scientific knowledge.”


Lakoff and Johnson’s Metaphors We Live By

George Lakoff and Mark Johnson
Metaphors We Live By
Area: History of Rhetoric and Memory Studies

•    How people understand their language and their experience
•    Metaphor is for most people a device of the poetic imagination and rhetorical flourish
o    Words rather than action or thought
•    If our conceptual system is largely metaphorical, then the way we think, what we experience, and what we do everyday is very much a matter of metaphor
•    “Argument is War”
o    Many of the ways we argue are actual “doings” of war: verbal battle
o    Structures the actions we perform in arguing
•    What we do and how we understand what we’re doing when we argue
•    “The essence of metaphor is understanding and experiencing one kind of thing in terms of another.”
o    Argument and war are different things, but argument is discussed in terms of war
•    Language of argument is literal
•    Human thought processes are largely metaphorical
•    Reddy’s Conduit Metaphor:
o    Ideas (or meanings) are objects
o    Linguistic expressions are containers
o    Communication is sending


Burke’s Permanence and Change

Kenneth Burke
Permanence and Change
Area: Rhetorical and Critical Theory
Notes from class

•    Reinsert ethical into natural
o    Bring these back together
•    Perspectivalism: frog’s perspective→lab use
o    ≠Enlightenment—truth and illusion
•    What’s Burke’s invention?
o    Rhetorical practices
o    Rhetoric’s revenge on philosophy
o    Talked about poststructuralism before poststructuralists did (one-up’ed em)
o    What kind of gesture if Burke making?
•    Dialectical materialism → biological materialism
•    What’s permanent and what changes in the body?
•    Blurs lines between reality and rhetoric
•    As Nietzsche tries to show the cleaving, Burke is rejoining the body and mind
o    Nietzsche: Exercising, physical response, returning in a bad way
o    Burke: recalcitrance, bow the body has become ‘bad’
•    How the body’s re-intervened
•    Rotman: invention of mind ≠ brain
•    Even Sophistic rhetoric speaks of affect
•    Maffesoli: cyclical time
o    Same thing happening—loop
o    Live forever but it’s the same
•    Nietzsche: Eternal return
o    A challenge—could you live your life if it’s lived this way forever?
o    The more attractive way of this is to change things abruptly
•    Plato→Badiou: all waiting for something
o    A teleological similarity
•    The Sophists→Deleuze: aren’t waiting for anything
•    Interpret interpretations
•    Natural v. constructed and socialized
•    Morality as fiction? Interpret without identity?
•    Fictions and how we name the world
o    This process is inherent in how we name
•    Getting around fiction
o    Necessary fiction, but not pathological
o    Different kind of fiction
•    Still some hope of transcendence
o    Everything is subject is in the subjective
o    Asubjective: so, not entirely interested in subjective
o    Haven’t lost anything—no longer individualistic
•    Subjectivity: judgement
o    Another subjectivity can be produced
•    Can we live together as subjects?
•    Subject in the moment
o    Use—computer desk example
•    Telescopes past, present, and future
o    Social cycle
•    Machinery—concommitant extensions
o    Biological v. Machinic
•    Matters of value with technology
•    Relation between ethical and obligation
•    Burke v. Hegel
•    Ethics: phenomenology rather than philosophy
o    All you have is representations?
•    Is Burke really interested in this question?
o    “The good life”—where ethics should lead us to
•    Ethics: move beyond judgment
•    Openness to different perspectives
•    Normal and pathological
•    Pretend to be something we’re not
o    Deceptive but ethical
o    The only way to produce an ethical effect through an unethical means
•    Lakoff: What’s at stake when we turn toward the body?
•    Going to the body for truth, rather than positing the truth in the body
•    What’s permanent: we’re human
o    What changes: how we interpret
•    Prison house of the body
•    Reorientation: truth is contingent
•    Accepting new orientations
•    Deleuze: Representation—haven’t we suffered enough?
•    Turn language around as it was turn on you
o    Affective response
•    Biological conditioning
o    How can you retrain your affective ways of responding to things?
•    Finding a way to be happy about something that used to make one miserable
o    Is this an ethical choice?
•    Retrain response: masochism
o    Demand, in control, communal response
•    Connolly: the concept of becoming
o    Return thought to the body
•    Non-nostalgic interaction
•    The ethical action
o    If people think differently, this creates an ethical change
•    Cultivation and self cultivation
o    The ethical work
o    Technologies of the self
•    Foucault: how people become subjects when it’s out of your control
•    People used to cultivated their own subjectivities
•    Different modes of interacting
Critical moments in the text
Xv: “Words are not merely ‘signs’; they are names whose ‘attachment’ to events, objects, persons, institutions, status groups, classes, and indeed any great or small collectivity, soon tends to determine what we do in regard to the bearer of the name.”
7: Trained incapacity: where one’s training would work against them (i.e. chickens running for feeding bell only to be led to the slaughter house); past working against the present experience
22: “Reality is what things will to do us or for us”
49: “Any performance is discussible either from the standpoint of what it attains or what it misses.  Comprehensiveness can be discussed as superficiality, intensiveness as stricture, tolerance as uncertainty—and the poor pedestrian abilities of a fish are clearly explainable in terms of his excellence as a swimmer.  A way of seeing is also a way of not seeing—a focus upon object A involves a neglect of object B.”
73: “A linkage emotionally appropriate becomes rationally inappropriate.”
90: “This are historical perspectives, which Spengler acquires by taking a word usually applied to one setting and transferring its use to another setting.  It is a ‘perspective by incongruity,’ since he established it by violating the ‘properties’ of the word in its previous linkages.”
97: “The great danger of analogy is that a similarity is taken as evidence of an identity.”
133: “Why is it so necessary that the patient be told the nature and origin of his disorder? Does one truly cast out devils by naming them? The notion of perspective by incongruity would suggest that one casts out devils by misnaming them.  It is not the name in itself that does the work, but the conversion downward implicit in such naming.”
139: Active forgetting = suppression : Freud
163: “We replace the metaphor of progress with the metaphor of a norm, the notion that at the bottom the aims and genius of man have remained fundamentally the same, that temporal events may cause him to stray far from his sources but that he repeatedly struggles to restore, under new particularities, the same basic patterns of the ‘good life.’”
181: “Could discovery be but rediscovery?”
213: pathetic fallacy
235: “Man lives by purpose—and purpose is basically preference.  Hence, where we have an even choice between conversion downwards and conversion upwards, who would feel logically obliged to select the direction which implied the destruction of human society?”
250: “Action is fundamentally ethical because it involves preferences.”
From 7007 response:
Noted in the afterword, the “investment in analogy is central” to Kenneth Burke’s Permanence and Change (324).  The above statement, therefore, functions as the most concise summarization of this text, since the notion of something alluding to something else is precisely what Burke’s discussions of language and the symbolic lend to the text as a whole.  To borrow directly from Burke, this ‘linking’ between what something is and what something is named becomes somewhat blurry, as illustrated early on with the examples of the tests performed by Watson, Pavlov, and Gestalt (i.e. fear, incited by the banging of a steel bar, was linked to rabbits, and eventually spread to all objects rabbit-related).  While reading Burke, I realized that “linking” is quite homogeneous to my personal research, and I would like to take some space here to discus how I might be able to utilize these Burkean concepts in relation to performance and gender studies.


Richards’ Philosophy of Rhetoric

I.A. Richards
The Philosophy of Rhetoric
Area: Rhetorical and Critical Theory
Notes from book

•    Series of lectures at Berkeley
•    How we approach rhetoric
•    Introduction to metaphors
•    Stability/context
•    15: Mean what it means?
•    23: (Mis)understanding
•    27: Meaning about meanings
•    28: Conneciton between thing and mane
o    Theory: New Critical
•    31: Conceptual thinking
•    35: Simultaneously into number of sorts
•    38: Overdetermination: Freud
•    32: The Golden Rule
•    Interdetermination
•    Literary context
•    48: Movement among meanings
•    51: Words matter – in isolation – to another
•    53: Interpretation
•    70: Meaning of words with other words
•    90: Language and apprehension/representation
•    91: Rhetoric: superficial problems
•    94: Transaction between contexts
•    99: Construction of metaphor
•    106: Ought/do words work?
•    116: Reflexive awareness
•    117: Metaphor works w/ knowledge of its ground
•    118: Metaphors work even if we don’t know how
o    Words can be both literal and metaphoric
•    131: Presenting language as work only though senses is backwards
•    132: Plain speech is inaccurate—metaphors make it precise
Critical moments in the text
•    3: “Rhetoric should be a study of misunderstanding and its remedies.”
•    15: “How does a word mean? How does an idea (or an image) mean what it does?”
•    59: “Morpheme: two or more words are said to share a morpheme when they have, at the same time, something in common in their meaning and something in common in their sound.”
Notes from class presentation
•    A transcript of a series of seven lectures delivered at Berkeley, The Philosophy of Rhetoric by I.A. Richards examines the function of words in rhetorical situations.
•    In each of these seven lectures, Richards expands upon his definition of rhetoric – which he immediately terms as “a study of misunderstanding and its remedies” – by heavily emphasizing a specific textuality found within the text itself (3).
•    However, Richards also spends significant time on metaphor, generally distinguished as a textuality lying outside of the text.  With these two competing distinctions, compositionists, rhetoricians, and general readers alike leave these transcribed lectures with a complete view of the role of words, whether these individual words are performing by themselves, or in sentences and in connection with their surroundings.
•    In the first introductory lecture, Richards suggests that as teachers, it is our “business […] to guess at and diagnose the mistakes other people have made in understanding what they have heard and read and to avoid illustrating these mistakes” (4).
o    This is where I find difficulty with this particular text, as I don’t believe we should focus specifically on become diagnosticians, or error-checkers and correctors; rather we teachers should look on improving the writer and the argument through revision.
•    According to Richards, “metaphor” is a notion that problematizes meaning in general.  By stating, “The meaning we find for a word comes to it only with respect to the meanings of the other words we take with it,” Richards suggests that all words are relational to others, or further, that none carry their own particular essence (70).
•    Metaphor, then, becomes crucial in the sense that all words mean something else in various situations.  Richards illustrates this idea in the following passage by examining various handlings of the word ‘book’:
•    “The word book, for example, troubles no one.  And yet compare the use of book, in which we distinguish a book from a magazine or journal, with that in which a majority of speakers in England describe a weekly as a book.  Or compare the senses of book in ‘It’s a formidable volume, but it’s not a book.’ ‘He has a mind full of his book.’ ‘Writing a book.’ ‘Binding a book.’ ‘Printing a book.’ ‘Rearranging the books in the catalogue.’  In each of these we have shifted the sense of book, sometimes to positions incompatible with one another” (74).
•    What this section demonstrates is a specific nod towards the New Critics in the sense that the meaning of a text is found specifically within itself.  Here, Richards’ employment of the term “metaphor” is designed to represent how words mean differently in connection to others, rather than corresponding to ideas outside of the text.
•    In reference to his aforementioned definition of rhetoric, misunderstandings can be remedied much more easily by utilizing Richards’ characterization of metaphors, as one does not have to look further than the original text for meaning.
•    Intellectual Roots
•    Richards suggests that the meaning of a text must be found within itself, thus he is one of the early advocates of New Criticism.
•    In A Guide to Composition Pedagogies, Covino maintains that, “The return to rhetoric had begun in the 1930s, when proponents of New Criticism […] began to connect the importance of ambiguity as a characteristic of language to a reconsideration of rhetoric as the explanation of ambiguity” (37).
•    When Richards notes that “rhetoric is a study of misunderstanding and its remedies,” we can then begin to see how the return to rhetoric helps one refocus on the explicitness of a text as opposed external factors that might weigh it down (3).
•    Arguments For
•    In composition classes, I believe it is very important to stick to what is said in the text, rather than looking to such factors as the author or motives behind the writing.  In my classroom, I always tell the students that they are being graded on their writing – what’s said in their essays – and not on their individual beliefs, personalities, etc.  This disctinction is crucial, especially when discussing Richards’ view of rhetorical pedagogy.  The student writer and the student text are two separate entities, and we must teach to these in very different ways.
•    Arguments Against
•    On the other hand, by incorporating the student writer and the student text, we can better “remedy the misunderstandings” by understanding where the individual is coming from: is English the student’s second language? have they always struggled with writing? did they have enough time to write the paper? am I properly explaining the assignment?


Derrida “White Mythology”

Derrida: “White Mythology”
Area: Rhetorical and Critical Theory
•    Metaphor in the text
o    Drawn from the senses—“abstract notions always hide in the senses”
•    Possibility of restoring: hides as it is hidden
o    Metaphor no longer noticed: double effacement
•    Expression of an abstract idea can only be an analogy
•    Metaphor is resemblance between two signs
o    Analogy within language is an analogy between language
o    Resemblance ≠ identity
•    One metaphor is always excluded—remains outside the system
o    One would have to classify where they came from (biology, chemistry, etc.)
•    By classifying, they are lending two discourses: more original and ceasing originality
•    Metaphor, then, is an abridged comparison
•    (*p. 227): “How are we to know what the temporalizatoin and spatialization of a meaning, of an ideal object, of an intelligible tenor, are, if we have not clarified what ‘space’ and ‘time’ mean?”
•    Metaphor is giving a thing a name that belongs to something else
•    Metaphor is giving a thing a name that belongs to something else
•    Metaphor makes the detour; detour becomes the return;
o    Detour is w/I; Metaphor is the concept
•    Aristotle: (Rhetoric) : “Analogy is metaphor par excellence”
•    *Language alone makes the connection: metaphorical redoubling; bottomless
•    Metaphor names its death within itself

July 2017
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