Gregory Desilet Cult of the Kill

ISBN 13: 9781401063481

Cult of the Kill

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9781401063481: Cult of the Kill

As a thorough introduction to the complex landscape of postmodern language theory, Cult of the Kill examines the latent violence inherent in language as a tool for community formation and deformation. Each chapter examines different ways in which key postmodern thinkers contribute to an understanding of the metaphysical underpinnings of radical conflict and exclusionary scapegoating practices.

The ominous title borrows a phrase made famous by American cultural critic and language theorist Kenneth Burke. Burke claims that within its many resources language introduces one in particular--the negative--that inclines humans toward modes of evaluation and discrimination that offer many seductive avenues toward what Burke calls "congregation by segregation."

Through seductive opportunities for reductionistic varieties of exclusionary and "sacrificial" negation, language induces a fixation on purification with predictable cycles of ritualistic scapegoating violence (both real and symbolic). These cycles of violence permeate individual, social, and cultural levels and, according to Burke, may be justly said to constitute a culture as a "cult of the kill."

The introduction orients the reader toward metaphysical tensions embedded within the structural layers of language that have likely figured in crucial ways in the 20th Century's "cult of the kill" history. It explores the question: To what extent may a less violent future lie in the possibility of a metaphysical choice that departs from the tradition of the use of the negative that Burke identifies? This question bears importantly on questions raised in each of the chapters as these also explore in parallel fashion the apparent controversy between Enlightenment based forms of humanism and rationalism and postmodern trends toward rhetorical and cultural relativism.

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From the Author:

The book will appeal to readers with interests across subjects such as American and Continental language philosophy, critical theory, literary theory, rhetorical theory, postmodernism, deconstruction, and conflict theory as these relate to the potential for violence as well as the potential for community. Because it does not assume considerable depth in background reading, the book is also a good introduction to the featured work of Friedrich Nietzsche, Kenneth Burke, Jacques Derrida, Martin Heidegger, and John Macksoud as well as the interpretive approaches of dramatism, deconstruction, and hermeneutics. Since the book addresses many of the major criticisms of deconstruction, it also serves well as a primer for the pros and cons of a postmodern view of language.

Through particular chapters and appendices the book also takes sides on several controversies including the Sokal Hoax controversy of 1996 (presenting in Chapter Four a challenging critique of Sokal's position form a perspective grounded in Sokal's own field--physics), the question of Heidegger's Nazi affiliation and its significance for assessing the import and value of his philosophy for future generations (Chapter Three), the question of Paul de Man's ties to a pro-Nazi newspaper and his possible anti-Semitism (Appendix C), the controversies surrounding Derrida's "defenses" of Heidegger and de Man (Appendices B and C), and the issue of Kenneth Burke's status as a modern or postmodern language philosopher (Appendix A).

From the Back Cover:

In Cult of the Kill Desilet not only offers a very insightful exploration of the work of key thinkers like Burke, Derrida, Heidegger, and Macksoud but also manages to synthesize these works in a very original way by addressing the themes of scapegoating and violence. Desilet's work is postmodern thought at its best as it examines our conceptual limitations while never falling into nihilism or despair. It is a must read for those interested in the intersection of rhetoric, postmodern theory, and hermeneutics--Francois Cooren, Associate Professor of Communication, Universite de Montreal

Desilet's reading rightly interprets and presents in a context adequate to its importance what some have misunderstood, namely, that deconstruction, does not presuppose 'difference without hierarchy' in social organization or elsewhere.... Though it can be said that irreducible difference does not imply natural or absolute solidity of hierarchies of difference, it also does not imply an absence of hierarchy--Jacques Derrida, Professor of Philosophy, Late Directeur d'Etudes at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales in Paris

Desilet has made an important advance in rhetorical theory. In this work he explores the dark side of community formation and group cohesion. The book is brilliant, fluent, and provocative--Andrew King, Professor of Communication, University of Louisiana

The title of Desilet's book does not arrive ex nihilo. It is the age of 'cult of the kill'.... and he does not leave the reader to consider the 'cult of the kill' dispassionately as if it were strictly at the level of being and becoming, essence and existence... instead he conveys a powerful sense of the drama, conflict, and consequences at stake within metaphysics and our implicit understandings of language.... Chapter Three is extraordinary in its use of Burke and Heidegger to illuminate each other as well as the profoundly troubling issue of Heidegger's Nazi association. The conclusions formed, though admittedly not final (is there ever closure?), are hard but fair--W. B. Macomber, Professor Emeritus, Philosophy, University of California

Chapter Four is "a terrific piece of work... stimulating and provocative.... readers will be tremendously impressed by the clarity with which the congruencies between physics and language theory are explained, from the Renaissance through the postmodern period.... This essay is wide-ranging and well-written and is a joy to read... especially in the way the discussion moves back and forth smoothly from its interpretive history of developments in physics to major shifts in the understanding of language in society."--Associate Editors, The Quarterly Journal of Speech

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Book Description Xlibris Corporation. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Paperback. 345 pages. As a thorough introduction to the complex landscape of postmodern language theory, Cult of the Kill examines the latent violence inherent in language as a tool for community formation and deformation. Each chapter examines different ways in which key postmodern thinkers contribute to an understanding of the metaphysical underpinnings of radical conflict and exclusionary scapegoating practices. The ominous title borrows a phrase made famous by American cultural critic and language theorist Kenneth Burke. Burke claims that within its many resources language introduces one in particular--the negative--that inclines humans toward modes of evaluation and discrimination that offer many seductive avenues toward what Burke calls congregation by segregation. Through seductive opportunities for reductionistic varieties of exclusionary and sacrificial negation, language induces a fixation on purification with predictable cycles of ritualistic scapegoating violence (both real and symbolic). These cycles of violence permeate individual, social, and cultural levels and, according to Burke, may be justly said to constitute a culture as a cult of the kill. The introduction orients the reader toward metaphysical tensions embedded within the structural layers of language that have likely figured in crucial ways in the 20th Centurys cult of the kill history. It explores the question: To what extent may a less violent future lie in the possibility of a metaphysical choice that departs from the tradition of the use of the negative that Burke identifies This question bears importantly on questions raised in each of the chapters as these also explore in parallel fashion the apparent controversy between Enlightenment based forms of humanism and rationalism and postmodern trends toward rhetorical and cultural relativism. This item ships from multiple locations. Your book may arrive from Roseburg,OR, La Vergne,TN. Paperback. Bookseller Inventory # 9781401063481

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