Die wichtigsten Begriffe der Praktischen Stilistik (German Edition)
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Understanding the Processing of Narrative Persuasion. Tooby, John, and Leda Cosmides. A Review of Theory and Literary Criticism 30 These include a rabbinic formula about the category-status of the material text, which among other things demarcates religious from secular. The essay distills an argument from a larger project, To Make the Hands Impure: Art and Ethical Adventure, the Difficult and the Holy Fordham UP, , which considers the question of how reading may be said to possess a certain ritual sensibility embodied by the ethical situation of the book lying in the hands of its readers.
He shows you this object. Perhaps he asks you to inspect it to see if it is indeed real, unaltered, normal. You want to be fooled. In this respect, however, the schema of Pledge-Turn,- Prestige has yet another story to tell, as an ars poetica for the workings of art, generally. Architecture, for example, stakes a pledge on the transformation of space and surrounding element into social structure and habitation. Music stakes a pledge on mechanical waves of pressure realized in ordered configurations of frequency and pitch, duration, and interval that enable song and rhythmic pulse.
The plastic arts stake a pledge on the materiality of stone and wood, glass and textile, and pigment and canvas rendered into design, pattern, image, and form. Dance stakes a pledge on the human body posed and mobilized through perfor- mance and social contact. Cinema stakes a pledge on the illusion of movement generated by twenty-four still frames per second not to mention the bricolage of those cutter-magicians known as editors , and, like theater, it stakes a pledge on the stylized impersonation of person. Literary and verbal representation stakes a pledge on language as both artifact and expression, and on the uncanny circuit of address between writers and readers.
And each pledge in the history of these traditions, crafts, and practices has a corresponding turn: Reading and the Restless Hand 59 Likewise, for each, there is—by something being brought back, smuggled in, or shown always to have been there even in disguise—the third act, the prestige. Art presents itself, wills some change in form or the production of some effect or consequence, and finally re-materializes either itself or its objects.
Mimesis-as-prestige is costly, for nothing is ever really brought back whole once it has been pledged.
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Manipulated and subject to sleight, the object-in-hand never really stays un-altered. My essay centers on this very quotidian economy, the everyday mimetic circuit of exchange that we take for granted—even we scholars, archivists, and professional book-handlers whose vocation is to read.
Regardless of what exactly Levinas means here—and I will return to him shortly— I invite the reader to think about the composite term hand-book in the naively corporeal sense: By this point, the title of my essay has perhaps become somewhat clearer. I have begun it in this manner for three reasons. Secondly, I want to suggest that this formula, as in my claim about its importability as a kind of ars poetica for the workings of aesthetic practices generally, also applies to the enterprise of commentary and criticism—as its own sort of conjuring and stagecraft.
It is to describe it as if literature were music or art, and as if one could sing or paint criticism. Again, but for the first time: All critics do this, but the writer-critic, wanting to be both faithful critic and original writer, does it acutely, in a flurry of trapped loyalties. The reverse of the statement would be more correct: Reading and the Restless Hand 61 communicative and communal myth of itself; their function, as philosopher Jean Luc Nancy ascribes to literary art itself at its most critical, is to interrupt Nancy, The Inoperative Community 43 ff.
The third, and most immediate, reason for my beginning thus is that the formula of Pledge-Turn-Prestige has been repurposed here as an armature on which to sculpt this essay, which following these preliminaries will assume a three-part structure. In this way, an organizing concern for the performative ethics of criticism, in craft and artificing, reveals its own hand. Tulp is directinging its collective attention.
For the book alone allows the body to be deciphered and invites the passage from the interior to the exterior. Sebald comments on this seeming anomaly in The Rings of Saturn 16— The critic Pleshette DeArmitt glosses Kofman similarly: This is much more than a shift in perspective—it is an occultation: Lawrence Wechsler, for example, in an essay written in , strongly contests such an interpretation: Nonsense—though, admittedly, a peculiarly self-referential art-academic, specialized-tome- generating sort of nonsense.
Just look at the picture. For what a marvel of motility it is—with its capacity for compression and extension, for flex and repose, grip and rotation. The hand in itself is a veritable miracle…. This is a painting, then, about looking at hands, about vision and malleability—about the fundamentals of painting itself. Either the book is the final object of internal gaze, which the interposed hand interrupts; or the gazes at the hand cannot help but extend farther forward, to the book behind it.
The line of sight linking them also, of necessity, coordinates them. Indeed, as Keller herself notes about the material fate of her own Bible: The aggadic passages begins this way: Le geste de Raba est bizarre: That was the degree to which he forgot himself in study. Many of you are undoubtedly thinking, with good reason, that at this very moment, I am in the process of rubbing the text to make it spurt blood—I rise to the challenge. Has anyone ever seen a reading that was anything other than this effort carried out on a text?
One must, by rubbing, remove this layer which corrodes them.
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I think you would find this way of proceeding natural. Raba, in rubbing his foot, was giving plastic expression to the intellectual work he was involved in. I mention Levinas here, in connection with the Helen Keller example, specifically to provide an initial example of the book- in-hand even if Levinas seems to concentrate on the foot-in-hand, or the foot-in- the-other-hand.
But on either side of the fulcrum between mimesis and exegesis, reading remains fundamentally tactile: I will offer a few examples from a somewhat different textual tradition. As soon as this volume began to circulate, Mr. And so, Levinas surely does massage the Talmudic text here, which in its plain sense more likely suggests that Rava was sitting on his hand, and thus drawing blood by grinding it as opposed to the more provocative image of a frictional, restless hand.
Intention and Method, J. Reading and the Restless Hand 65 literature I have since met with, speckled all over with ironmould, and having various specimens of the insect world smashed between their leaves. My favorites came from the school library. They were distributed in the lower classes.
The teacher would call my name, and the book then made its way from bench to bench; one boy passed it on to another, or else it traveled over the heads until it came to rest with me, the student who had raised his hand. Its pages bore traces of the fingers that had turned them. The bit of corded fabric that finished off the binding, and that stuck out above and below, was dirty.
But it was the spine, above all, that had had things to endure—so much so, that the two halves of the cover slid out of place themselves, and the edge of the volume formed ridges and terraces. Hanging on its pages, however, like Indian summer on the branches of the trees, were sometimes fragile threads of a net in which I had once become tangled when learning to read.
Both scenes— negatively, in the first instance, and with more emulative force in the second— illustrate what I mean by transfer or transitivity. Finally, similarly palpably yet more grotesquely, what follows is a passage from a newspaper article about an heirloom of dubious distinction: But what added to her anxiety was her belief that the book was a contagion, that its gold-leafed pages would defile her should her fingers brush against it by accident when she was searching for another book on the shelf. However, the next section offers quite a different story, and is counterintui- tive in the extreme.
In this story, the tradeoff involving both mimesis and exegesis is a line that marks one kind of text-culture or reading practice from another, a sign that registers canonical inclusion or exclusion, sanctity as opposed to mundanity, defilement versus consecration. Like the object-in-hand noted earlier that never really remains unaltered, the book-in-hand of this example concen- trates the very force of alteration.
These categories distin- guished, according to character and degree, objects vessels, clothes, and houses, for example and persons in the Torah as either ritually clean or unclean: Reading and the Restless Hand 67 situated on a fault line between life and death, or between integral and particu- late. Correlatively, human hands themselves were also accorded a special status according to their propensity to busy themselves with things of every sort.
Strangely enough, however, included among contaminant articles and objects is the material status of scripture itself. Such classification ensured that these inscriptions would not be handled casually and would be accorded the proper respect commanded by their qedushah, or holiness. And yet, counterintuitively, holy books possessed the power to taint persons, not vice versa. Scholars have been understandably piqued by the linguistic apotropaism that thus transforms defilement into a sign of sanctity.
An etiology for this peculiar reversal is offered in a tractate of the Talmud, which foregrounds storage places for Torah scrolls in the Mishnaic period early first through early third centuries C. The customary practice was to stow them with terumah, sanctified grain, since both were considered ritually holy. Could books that did not mention the name of God such as Song of Songs and The Book of Esther—or that skirted non-Jewish philosophies Ecclesiastes be included alongside the Torah and the Prophets as part of the Biblical text corpus?
Did they refer to the ideas spoken within the book, or to the words of the book when spoken, or to the book itself as a physical object, or to all of these? Signifying the Holy in Late Ancient Christianity, But the physical is still a baseline. In the world of ceremonial practice, for example, a sefer Torah is a consecrated artifact accorded maximal dignity and modesty: The interdiction against casual contact accords with an entire halakhic protocol regulating the proper handling of ritual texts.
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By exten- sion, sefarim books with religious content are accorded their own elaborate de jure apparatus of reverential comportment, which, not coincidentally, calls pre- cise attention to their vulnerability. When a sefer falls, it must be reverently kissed upon being picked up; and when it becomes no longer usable, it must be put aside in a safe place or buried in the ground; it may not be burned or discarded.
If stacked, sefarim are placed in order of rising qedusha: Pentateuch on top of Prophets, and Writings on top of Talmud volumes, on top of prayer books, etc. For a mere point or tangent, in this reckoning, inevitably expands with the wish to press further and touch more: I will pursue the first question, about contamination, and defer for a moment the second, about hands and touch. On contemporary Cuban Jewry, see Abel R. Returning to Jewish Cuba. Reading and the Restless Hand 71 the prayer services at the synagogue in Havana: It also suggests a transferential property of exposition and commentary inasmuch as a Torah scroll or canonized scripture does not exist secluded from bodily human contact—an inert totem or untouchable sacral object—but, on the contrary, is imbued with touch as the sanctifying effect of transitivity for reading eyes, reciting mouths, listening ears, and holding hands.
What is so singular about the combination of hand and book, each its own metonym of the human, the two together conducting a circuit of tactile, cognitive, and affective energies? This returns us to the second question I left suspended: At the end of Otherwise Than Being; Or, Beyond Essence, Levinas calls such taken-for-grantedness to account in one of his most gem-like formules: If a Torah scroll can join the commu- nity of persons and thus, by itself, serve to fulfill the statutory mandate of communal prayer, then perhaps we too easily construe our relation to the texts we bear in hand, the texts that accompany us, side-by-side, marking the seam between, on one hand, corporeal, worldly event and, on the other, the enigma of tact, in the doubled sense of touch and regard.
This intimacy between person and page is captured by medievalist Valerie Allen in direct connection with the Levinasian hermeneutic of sollicitation, of an agitated and agitating text, an integumentum or skin that solicits reading as rubbing. Knuth and edited by Olivier Joseph. Biographical treatments include J.
Reading and the Restless Hand 73 Nonetheless, what I have generally called an ethics of reading situates itself exactly at this baseline phenomenal level. Even as I broach such a phrase, however, I am mindful of a caveat passed along by Charles Altieri that, once heard, is hard to ignore: For literary critics at least, this embarrassment can, or should, stem from taking ourselves as spokespersons for self-congratulatory values in reading that are extremely difficult to state in any public language. In literary studies, the ethical turn, as it has been called, has been revolving for a while: Injury and the Ethics of Reading.
Nor does it concern itself with whether a text is licit or illicit, or virtuous and thus advanta- geous for its readers , or else somehow deleterious objectionable on some moral ground and thus disadvantageous. Human consciousness is always, for Hardy, embodied human consciousness. All states of being, not just overt, physical activity but even what appear to be forms of physical inactivity like reading or perceiving or feeling-inevitably entail reciprocal jostling with the world.
The material record of the interaction between man and world often survives the interaction itself: But with that dialectic between concussiveness and largesse as specifically ethical correlates for the act of reading, I will now pivot to the third and concluding section of this article, the Prestige, where the magician, artist, or critic supposedly brings something back. That something is still the book-in-hand, the one we must rub to arrive at the life it conceals—even if in contact it becomes a somewhat different book.
For once pledged, nothing truly remains un-altered. It has long been a matter of national custom for public monuments to the dead—in particular, those to victims of collective calamity—to display their names in memorialization. At the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall, the 58, names of American soldiers killed in action in the Southeast Asia theater of operations are etched chronologically into the granite wall according to the casualty dates.
Reading and the Restless Hand 75 Oklahoma City Memorial, the names inscribed on empty chairs are grouped according to the floors where the people were located at the moment of the bombing, and also according to the blast pattern. Other memorials list names in the most common and democratic manner: This is its feat of leger e demain, and its prestige. Around the perimeter of the two colossal cubic voids that mark the footprints of the destroyed towers—each of which are ringed by waterfalls cascading into a sunken pool that encloses a smaller, central draining pool—is a bronze balustrade of five-foot by ten-foot panels on which are inscribed the names of the 2, victims from ninety countries of the attacks on September 11, and February 26, Each name is handfinished.
Name adjacency depends on patterns of affiliation. So complex was the entire arrangement that an algorithm was required to sort the multiple permutations of nearness. But a casual visitor is free to absorb, intone, litanize the names as a pure collectivity, not so differently from how those names are publicly recited on each anniversary: There is another way, however, in which they can be read and thus individuated: That is, just as the restless hand that reads these names could be said to perform an ethics of reading, so rhetoricizing it as a scene of reading among a community of readers also limns an ethics of criticism.
The rubbing itself solicits rubbing. Reading and the Restless Hand 77 witnesses, do we even attest to the witnessing in any visible, accountable way? For is that not one of the cathartic purposes of an artwork, and a reason why we raise monuments to the dead: In the face of such demurrals, I want to propose another set of possible consequences.
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Beyond affect or pathos, beyond spontaneity defended and preserved, we are given the chance to enact something by being asked to make connections, even if the traces are ultimately ineffable. In reading the names engraved upon the National September 11 Memorial, we do more than just record them: While one is not asked to sign an affidavit after visiting the memorial, one can still opt to touch and physicalize it to a greater degree of permanence, namely, by penciling it—as is common when one needs to retrieve lost information.
Marks, and Mark Patterson. This dialectical yet also tactile movement of inscription re-inscribed by an ethic of reading is something I trace in separate chapters on Levinas, Mikhail Bakhtin, and Stanley Cavell, a triumvirate of ethical philosophers I first braided together in Narrative Ethics and whom I revisit in To Make the Hands Impure as three kinds of readers, each drawn by or to a particular genre: A series of tropes organizes the constellation of chapters, functioning as both structural armature and cladding.
What invites the hand into movement and contact with the bronze parapets at the National September 11 Memorial is the regress of name to person to material surface—each element, both explicably and inexplic- ably, standing for the other. But the magic process by which writing becomes altered reading, the way it both marks and invites marking, and solicits tact—touch and regard—is what explains the transformative move from eye to restless hand, and the turning of its pledge into an always-receding prestige.
Works Cited and Consulted Ajzenstat, Oona. Hebrew, Greek, and Linguistic Justice. September 21, , 2: Davis, and Kenneth Womack. U of Virginia P, An Island Called Home: Berlin Childhood around Brooks, Peter with Hilary Jewett Eds. Matters of Aesthetics, Materiality, and Media. Sheffield Phoenix Press, Chartier, Rogier, and J. From the Text to the Reader.
The Biopolitics of Emerging Technologies. The Man and His Two Loves. New York UP, The Ark of Speech. The Call and the Response. The Work of Mourning. Pascale-Anne Brault, and Michael Naas. The Book of Touch. Las religiones en Cuba: Modern Magic and the Meaning of Life. Reading and the Restless Hand 81 Kofman, Sarah. Johns Hopkins UP, Ethics and Infinity, Conversations with Philippe Nemo. Duquesne UP, , 1— Indiana UP, , 30— The World of His Novels. Sensuous Theory and Multisensory Media. The Fictional Christopher Nolan. U of Texas P, Signifying the Holy in Late Ancient Christianity.
U of Minnesota P, To Make the Hands Impure: Art and Ethical Adventure, the Difficult and the Holy. Reasons of the Heart. Olivier Joseph August The Senses of Touch: Haptics, Affects and Technologies. Massachusetts Institute of Technology Press, Tom Doherty Associates, An Exemplary History of the Novel: The Quixotic Versus the Picaresque. The Rings of Saturn. Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary, The Poetics of Biblical Narrative: Ideological Literature and the Drama of Read- ing.
A Particular History of the Senses. Essays on Literature and Belief. Ethical literary criticism reads interprets and analyzes literature from an ethical perspective. It argues that literature is a unique expression of ethic and morality within a certain historical period, and that literature is not just an art of language but rather an art of text. Specifically, ethical literary criticism seeks to unpack the ethical features of literary works, to describe characters and their lives from the vantage point of ethics, and to make ethical judgments about them.
In the history of human civilization, mankind underwent two important processes: Natural selection allowed human beings to evolve from apes physically, whereas ethical selection distinguishes them from animals spiritually. In an ethical sense, mankind is the outcome of the Sphinx factor, which can be seen as the combination of the human and animal factors.
The Sphinx factor is the central element expressed in literary works. Although these critical theories put literature into dialogue with politics, moral- ity, gender and ethnicities, there is a deficit of ethical engagement in them. On the one hand, as pointed out above, we should acknowledge the fruitful results of importing and applying western critical theories.
For instance, they have helped Chinese scholars to communicate with western academics through the adoption and use of their critical tools. On the other hand, we feel that something is regrettably lost in this process, for our contribution to the develop- ment of literary theories is seriously limited. As it is, we cannot help pondering over the question whether there is any possibility for Chinese scholars to develop a set of critical toolkits of their own and thus contribute more actively to world literature studies.
I shall attempt to answer this question by proposing a new critical theory: Beginning with a differentiation between ethical lit- erary criticism and traditional moral criticism, I seek to explain the origin of literature. Arguing against the popular view that sees literature as ideology or as aesthetic ideology, I claim that literature takes its origin from ethics, and moral teaching is its primary function. This essay also illuminates the working mechan- isms of ethical literary criticism and its terminology such as ethical taboo, ethical identity, ethical choice, ethical environment, ethical knot, ethical line, ethical confusion, the Sphinx factor, the human factor, the animal factor, rational will, irrational will, natural will, and free will.
Ethic as the Origin of Literature Ethical literary criticism can be defined as a critical theory that approaches literary works and their authors from the perspective of ethics. The overarching aim of ethical literary criticism is to uncover ethical factors that bring literature into existence and the ethical ele- ments that affect characters and events in literary works.
It seeks to illuminate issues concerning the events, the characters and their actions from an ethical perspective, and to make an ethical judgment about them accordingly. Theoretically, their point of departure should have been to analyze literature from an ethical perspective—or, to put it differently, the ethical value of the literary text should have been the target of their research, and their moral principles should have merely served as toolkits in that process.
However, in practice, the analysis of literary texts ceased to be their target of investigation and merely turned into evidence of their personal moral principles. In contrast to traditional ethical critics, ethical literary criticism pro- posed here represents a particularly strong its call for objectivity and historicism.
Grounding itself on specific historical contexts or ethical environments, ethical literary criticism sees the contemporary value of literature as its historical value rediscovered. Ethical literary criticism differs from other strands of literary criticism in its view of the origin of literature, by claiming that literature is a product of ethic, or a unique expression of morality in a given historical period.
In other words, literature is fundamentally an expression of ethic. Many theories exist concerning the origins of literature, including Mimetic Theory, Catharsis Theory, and Labor Theory. So far, the most influential theory on the origin of literature has been Labor Theory, which argues that literature, or arts in a broad sense, has origi- nated from human labor. Unlike Engels, I think that labor is just one of the conditions for human beings to produce arts.
In my opinion, literature is produced out of the need of humans to express their views on ethic or the desire to share their ethical experience. When early human beings recognized the need for collaboration and cooperation in their working, they learned to deal with their relations with others, which gradually brought them to a recognition of order. To some degree, their recognition of collaboration, cooperation, and order marks the initial form of ethical relations. In other words, their recognition of the advantages of help and collaboration generates the earliest form of ethical consciousness.
From my point of view, human beings created scripts and written characters out of their desire to express ethical values, so that they could document the incidents of their collaboration coupled with their own understandings. The texts generated in this manner can be considered as the earliest form of literature. In line with its origin, literature can also be deemed as an art based on text. Without scripts or letters, there would be no text, not to mention the existence of literature.
Scripts and letters are mere semiotic symbols before they make up a text. In other words, it is the text made of scripts and letters that functions as the carrier of literature.
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Nevertheless, most literary critics think otherwise. These arguments are problematic in the sense that they confuse letters with language, and therefore they fail to recognize the textual basis of literature. It is true that language can be used as a tool for the making of literature. For instance, stories told verbally can be indeed resources for literary creation. However, before the creation of documenting or recording devices, verbal language cannot be converted into its material form. Therefore, the stories told orally only find their existence in the memory of human beings.
Viewed in this light, literature cannot be seen as an art of language. It is not until the creation of scripts and letters that verbal language finally takes on written form. But it would be a misconception to argue that scripts are created merely for the sake of recording verbal language; they are also used to document ideology or thoughts and make them exist in material form. Only when recorded through scripts or letters can verbal language, ideology, or thoughts gain their stable material forms, which become then finally visible and readable.
Hence, seeing literature as an art of language blurs the distinction between different forms of art. An example would be stage drama, which cannot be termed as literature but as an art of performance. In brief, scripts and letters are the material form of language and the basic materials constituting a text. Consequently, the text is both the material form of language and the material form of thoughts, which allow their becoming the carrier of literature.
In contrast to text, language cannot directly contribute to the existence of literature; it must go in a round- about way, that is, language must be converted into letters and text before it is used as a material form to convey meanings. When serving as a readable and visible form of language and thoughts, the text has laid a solid foundation for literature to come into being. It is in this sense that we consider literature not as an art of language but as an art of texts. Therefore, literature is not abstract but rather concrete; it is not a kind of ideology but a material form dependent on texts.
Unfortunately, this point has not been fully accepted. As a matter of fact, it is not uncommon for literature to be frequently labeled as a type of ideology. Simi- larly, the concepts of ideology and aesthetic ideology are frequently used by western literary critics to describe literature. For instance, in Criticism and Ideol- ogy , Terry Eagleton talks much about general ideology, aesthetic ideology, authorial ideology, and textual ideology.
Both ideology and aesthetic ideology are highly abstract concepts, while literature is the specific material existing in texts.