April 10, 2007

de Man confuses me...

As with most of the essays in this course, I once again find myself confused on the actual theory behind the theory. On the other hand, I was glad to see an author admit that it really is confusing. Many questions are asked by de Man as he states his case and that is actually the main point to his essay (I think). This author takes the idea of the rhetorical question and breaks it down (or deconstructs it). Mr. de Man states:

The point is as follows. A perfectly clear syntactical paradigm (the question) engenders a sentence that has at least two meanings of which the one asserts and the other denies its own illocutionary mode. It is not so that there are simply two meanings, on literal and the other figural, and that we have to decide which one of these meanings is the right one in this particular situation.

Never in my life did I think I would read something that broke down the idea behind a rhetorical question in such a manner.

I have to say that as I was reading this passage about the question and the different ways to read it I questioned to myself why? I am consistently amazed each week as I am reading the sections on theory that are supposed to help me understand the ideas behind the theory only to discover that I become more confused with each reading. That being said, I think that I actually got this one. De Man is trying to show his readers how to deconstruct an idea using a staple of the human language. Who doesn't ask rhetorical questions from time to time? I mean come on. They slip out when one is trying to be sarcastic or when frustrated. Anyway. I found this essay interesting because a relatively simple idea has just been taken and made more complicated than I ever thought possible.

de Man, ''Semilogy and Rhetoric'' -- Jerz EL312 (Literary Criticism)

Posted by Tiffany Brattina at April 10, 2007 1:13 AM | TrackBack

LOL, Tiffany. You asked a rhetorical question in your entry--" Who doesn't ask rhetorical questions from time to time?" Haha, that cracked me up.

Anyway, glad you feel comfortable with de Man. But here's my question for you: do you think that de Man's theories on grammar and rhetoric are only for showing readers how to "deconstruct an idea using a staple of human language"? Or do de Man's theories have another purpose?

Posted by: Karissa at April 10, 2007 1:35 PM

I think that they are for the latter of your two questions. He seems to want people to realize that there are simple ways out there to deconstruct an idea because some people can delve too deeply into something. At least that is what I want to believe. His intent for this article is one that I'm not 100% sure of.

Posted by: Tiffany at April 11, 2007 10:50 AM
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