Thursday, February 19, 2009
Ferdinand de Saussure said "the linguistic unit is a double entity, one formed by the associating of two terms" (61). "The linguistic sign unites, not a thing and a name, but a concept and a sound-image" (61). There are two elements to the sound of language. The actual physical sound is the sound we hear. Then there is the impression the sound makes on our senses. Saussure calls this the "psychological imprint of the sound"(61). The objective here is to understand that the sound or concept doesn't really mean anything until we have a mental picture to associate it with.
For example, when someone says "Hugh Hefner," It doesn't mean anything to us until we know that this sound is associated with the name of a man. It then helps to see a picture of him. Once we know what he looks like, the next time we hear the same sound we have its association. The image with the subtitle "I'm with Hef," is a picture of a strapping, young Hefner, smoking a pipe. He is handsome, and his stare alludes his sexiness. Once we are interested in the picture we learn that it is not entirely accurate.
Hugh Hefner is now actually much older, and quite wealthy. On a good day he dressed fashionably in classic attire and looks more like the next image.
de Saussure, Ferdinand. "Course in General LInguistics." Literary Theory: An Anthology. Ed. Julie Rivkin & Michael Ryan. Blackwell: Oxford, 2006. 59-71.
Friday, February 13, 2009
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Thursday, February 5, 2009
In a YouTube clip on nonviolent civil disobedience, the movie The Great Debaters gives a concise example of Aristotle’s philosophy on speech and writing. The speaker combines all three of Aristotle’s rules to show his audience what life is like in the South. He begins by saying, “In Texas, they lynch Negros” (Nonviolent). Then he paints a picture of him and his teammates’ experience witnessing the lynching of an African-American man in the South. His clear, simple opening sentence satisfies Aristotle’s first rule. He then proves his argument with an eyewitness account.
When addressing Aristotle’s philosophy about stating how things are “said to be or seem to be,” (Murray 92) the speaker mentions his opposition’s quote who said, “Nothing that erodes the rule of law, can be moral” (Nonviolent). The speaker unveils that there seems to be a double standard in this statement since killing is against the law, yet in the South this law was not enforced on the lynch mob.
Aristotle’s third rule says one has to represent things “as they ought to be” (Murray 92). The speaker quotes St. Augustine saying, “An unjust law is no law at all” (Nonviolent). Using this quote the speaker justifies violence and civil disobedience as means to oppose unfair and unjust treatment of blacks in the South.
Wednesday, February 4, 2009
I thought I had been posting all along and am afraid I wasn't. That being said, hear are my condensed thoughts...
When all of these philosophies are taken into consideration they are all valid, correct, and appropriate in different contexts.
Plato is harsh in his opinion of poetry, yet is still inconsistent. He devalues rhetoric because it arouses emotion making us "incapable of judging and reflecting on the performances we are experiencing," but depends on rhetoric to convince us he's right.
Gorgias and the Sophists further Plato's issues with rhetoric by arguing everything is relative. Without absolutes any argument can be proven one way or the other. In other words everything can mean anything depending on your experience, or which way you choose to view it.
Aristotle takes a different approach on poetry than Plato, and says it isn't "inspired." He says poetry can be structured and reasoned, but following his prescription for poetry doesn't allow for much creative influence. Aristotle allows us the process of catharsis. We are able to purge our emotional distresses of everyday life through poetry, which may otherwise be too great a burden.
Longinus says "the true sublime uplifts our souls; we are filled with a proud exaltation and a sense of vaunting joy, just as though we had ourselves produced what we had heard." He says writing should touch your soul, and be moving, then says, "you may take it that sublimity in all its truth and beauty exists in such works as please all men at all times." I have to ask my self if this is possible.
All-in-all, the most important thing is to find a balance in all of these philosophies. There is good that can be taken away from all of this. Do I choose for myself? Or let them choose for me?