Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Kenneth Burke

Been playing with LibraryThing ... the obsessive-compulsive bibliophile's online toy. Tonight I entered a lot of
Kenneth Burke in my library ... my favorite literary critic. Bemoaning how little time a working stiff has to spend browsing in a lifetime's bibliographic gathering. So I looked him up in Wikipedia, and they had this sweet line": "Language, Burke thought, doesn't simply 'reflect' reality; it also helps select reality as well as deflect reality."

Not reflect, but select/deflect. Reflect is the first refuge of anti-dialectical thought .. the first refuge of common sense, the obvious, the easy. Select and deflect imply not just the obvious choice so much as the contradictory impulses of engaging and avoiding. Select/deflect imply choice and activity, engagement and intellect. They imply thought and abstraction. Reflection is passive and receptive. Select/deflect is activity and resistance.

Not sure where in the prodigious output of Kenneth Burke one would find his ruminations on these words, but this is what always attracted me to him ... engaging the artist, empowering the audience, demanding of the intellect.

More posts on Kenneth Burke here.

No comments: