November 19, 2012

Burke and Keller

I found this comparison between Kenneth Burke and Helen Keller to be very interesting and surprising. I never would have thought to put the two in the same category but after reading this piece by George, the similarities are very clear. Both were radical in their discourse and sought to shift the way Americans saw what was appropriate as well as addressing some of the main issues that these Americans faced. Keller argued that many people were "spiritually blind" (pg341), that is they were unaware of what it was that they actually believed in; they are blind to their conformity. This was a very interesting point to me. I was unaware of all the ideas that Keller had put out there in her discourse, but this one in particular stuck out to me because this idea is still present now. People do not always realize that they are conforming, that they don't necessarily have their own opinions, but only those which others have given them.

This almost reminds me of Persepolis in that to a certain extent, people do not really question what their culture actually is, they just live with it day to day.
Another similarity between Burke and Keller mentioned is that they both used the same three rhetorical strategies for their audiences: boring from within, translation, and perspective by incongruity. These all highlight the idea of "achieving identification with the audience" (pg 342). The rhetorician needs to be "talking the audience's language, expressing ideas in terms the audience will understand and warm to" (pg 342).

Another point that I found interesting in the piece was the critique that Keller received. People didn't think that she had an accurate point of view because she only knew what she had been told by other people. Her critics didn't think that she could "locate the boundaries between what was real to her and what she was forced to imagine" (pg 345). This was countered by the idea that her reality was very linguistic based, but so are many other people's; "she gains knowledge and creates a reality the same way most people do of the time-- through texts" (pg 346).

1 comment:

Stephen Craun said...

I particularly enjoyed your observation of the critique of keller near the end of your post, because it is here that i believe lies a profound realization regarding the interpretation of text. The boundaries between keller and the nature of events that are cited in the critique of her work are a superficial division, because the lingiustic interpretation of reality is one that we are all subjected to in our formation and communication of knowledge and ideas. I think that keller's work serves as a testament of how lingiustics and the nature of language in relation to our orientation in the social fabric of our episteme plays a central role on the manner in which we are able to interpret the "meaning" within language

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