Saturday, 7 July 2007

An Outline of the Rhetorosaurus Database

By David Ruaune

Below is an outline of the structure of the taxonomic aspect of the Rhetorosaurus database. This is part of work in progress and at the moment only a few of the hyperlinks work, but soon all hyperlinks should group sets of rhetorical terms from the database.

1000 Syllables Syllables
1100 Deletion / Omission Syllables - deletion
1200 Addition Syllables - addition
1300 Distortion / Rearrangement / Transposition Syllables - distortion

2000 Alteration of internality of word (?) Alteration of internality of a word

3000 Words Words
3100 Deletion / Omission Words - deletion
3200 Addition Words - addition
3300 Distortion / Rearrangement / Transposition Words - distortion
3400 Parenthesis Parenthesis
3500 Zeugmas Zeugmas

4000 Repetition Repetition
4100 Rhythm Rhythm
4200 Rhyme Rhyme
4300 Words, Phrases Repetition of words or phrases

5000 Parallelism and Balance of Sound (Rhythm), Grammar and Semantics

6000 Poetic Licence Poetic Licence
6100 Deletion Deletion
6200 Addition – Superfluity Superfluity
6300 Distortion - Malapropism and Ungrammaticality
Malapropism and Ungrammaticality
6500 Poeticisms, Euphony, etc Poeticism
6800 Obscurity, Pomposity Obscurity
6900 Neologism Neologism

7100 Description Description
7200 Contiguity – Metonymy Contiguity Metonymy
7300 Similarity / Dissimilarity – Metaphor Similarity Metaphor
7400 Contraries / Irony Contraries Irony
7500 Language / Puns Language Pun

8100 Definition Definition
8200 Division Division
8300 Arrangement / Structure of Argument
8310 Ordering Ordering
8320 Beginning Beginning
8330 Amplification / Climax Amplification Climax
8350 Digression Digression
8360 Ending Ending
8400 Logic Logic
8500 Rhetorical Argument Rhetorical argument
8600 Fallacies Fallacy – Formal Formal
8700 – Informal Informal
8700 Fallacies of Presumption Presumption
8710 Generalisation Generalisation
8730 Begging the Question Petitio principii
8740 False Analogy False Analogy
8750 Complex Question / Ignorance etc. Complex question
8760 False Cause / Gambler’s Fallacy False cause
8780 Fallacies of Ambiguity Ambiguity
8800 Fallacies of Relevance / Emotional Appeals Relevance
8840 Argumentum ad Hominem
Argumentum ad hominem
8850 Loaded Language / Black-and-White Fallacy
Loaded language
8870 Etc

9000 Testimony Testimony
9000 Example Example
9500 Emotional Emotional

Sunday, 1 July 2007

Victor Shklovsky - "The Resurrection of the Word" (selections)

The word — the image and its fossilisation. The epithet as a means of renewal of the word. The history of the epithet — the history of poetic style. The fate of works of old artists of the word is of the same nature as the fate of the word itself: they complete the journey from poetry to prose. The death of things. The aim of Futurism is the resurrection of things — the return to man of sensation of the world. The connection of the devices of the Futurists’ poetry with the devices of general linguistic thought-processes. The semi-comprehensible language of ancient poetry. The language of the Futurists.

The most ancient poetic creation of man was the creation of words. Now words are dead, and language is like a graveyard, but an image was once alive in the newly-born word. Every word is basically — a trope. And often enough, when you get through to the image which is now lost and effaced, but once embedded at the basis of the word, then you are struck by its beauty — by a beauty which existed once and is now gone.

When words are being used by our thought-processes in place of general concepts, and serve, so to speak, as algebraic symbols, and must needs be devoid of imagery, when they are used in everyday speech and are not completely enunciated or completely heard, then they have become familiar, and their internal (image) and external (sound) forms have ceased to be sensed. We do not sense the familiar, we do not see it, but recognise it. We do not see the walls of our rooms, it is so hard for us to spot a misprint in a proof — particularly if it is written in a language well known to us, because we cannot make ourselves see and read through, and not ‘recognise’ the familiar word.

If we should wish to make a definition of ‘poetic’ and ‘artistic’ perception in general, then doubtless we would hit upon the definition: ‘artistic’ perception is perception in which form is sensed (perhaps not only form, but form as an essential part). It is easy to demonstrate the correctness of this ‘working’ definition in those instances when some expression or other, having been poetic, becomes prosaic.

This loss of the form of the word represents a great easement for the thought-processes and may be a necessary condition for the existence of science, but art could never be satisfied with this eroded word. It could hardly be said that poetry has made up the damage it has suffered through the loss of the figurativeness of words by replacing this figurativeness with a higher type of creation — for example by the creation of character-types, because in such a case poetry would not have held on so avidly to the figurative word even at such high stages of its evolution as .in the era of epic chronicles. In art, material must be alive and precious. And this is where there appeared the epithet, which does not introduce anything new into the word, but simply renews its dead figurativeness. The word, revitalised by the epithet, became poetic once more. Time passed — and the epithet ceased to be sensed — again because of its familiarity. And the epithet began to be handled through habit, by virtue of scholastic traditions and not through living poetic feeling. Moreover, the epithet is by now sensed so little that quite often its application cuts right across the general situation and colouring of the picture; for example:
Burn, burn, you tallow candle,Tallow candle of ardent wax.....
or the ‘my true love’ of the Old English ballads, a term applied in them indiscriminately — whether it is a case of either true or untrue love, and so on.....

Constant epithets have worn smooth, no longer evoke a figurative impression and do not satisfy its demands. Within their limits new epithets are created, they accumulate, and definitions become diversified through descriptive terms borrowed from the material of the saga or legend.
‘The history of the epithet — is the history of poetic style in an abridged edition.’ (A. Veselovsky). This history shows us how all forms of art always recede from life, forms which, just like the epithet, live, fossilise and finally die.

People pay too little attention to the death of forms in art, they all too flippantly contrast the old with the new without thinking whether the old is alive or has already vanished, as the sound of the sea vanishes for those who live by its shores, as the thousand-voiced roar of the town has vanished for us, as everything familiar, too well known, disappears from our consciousness.

Not only words and epithets fossilise, whole situations can fossilise too.

The fate of the works of old artists of the word is exactly the same as the fate of the word itself. They are completing the journey from poetry to prose. They cease to be seen and begin to be recognised. Classical works have for us become covered with the glassy armour of familiarity — we remember them too well, we have heard them from childhood, we have read them in books, thrown out quotations from them in the course of conversation, and now we have callouses on our souls — we no longer sense them.

The illusion that old art is sensed is supported by the fact that elements alien to art are often present in it. Such elements are in fact found above all in literature; therefore literature now has hegemony in art and the largest number of connoisseurs. What is typical for artistic perception is our material disinterestedness in it. Exhilaration at the speech of one’s defence counsel in the law court is not an artistic sensation, and, if we sense the nobility and humanity of the thoughts of the most humane poets in the world, then these sensations have nothing in common with art. They were never poetry and therefore have not completed the journey from poetry to prose either.

The broad masses are satisfied with market-place art, but marketplace art shows the death of art.

Nowadays the old art has already died, the new has not yet been born; and things have died — we have lost our awareness of the world; we are like a violinist who has ceased to feel the bow and the strings, we have ceased to be artists in everyday life, we do not love our houses and clothes, and easily part from a life of which we are not aware. Only the creation of new forms of art can restore to man sensation of the world, can resurrect things and kill pessimism.
And now, today, when the artist wishes to deal with living form and with the living, not the dead, word, and wishes to give the word features, he has broken it down and mangled it up. The ‘arbitrary’ and ‘derived’ words of the Futurists have been born. New, living words are created. The ancient diamonds of words recover their former brilliance. This new language is incomprehensible, difficult, and cannot be read like the Stock Exchange Bulletin. It is not even like Russian, but we have become too used to setting up comprehensibility as a necessary requirement of poetic language. The history of art shows us that (at least very often) the language of poetry is not a comprehensible language, but a semi-comprehensible one. Thus, savages often sing in an archaic or alien tongue, sometimes so incomprehensible that the singer (or, more correctly, the lead singer) must translate and explain to the choir and audience the meaning of the song he has just composed.

The religious poetry of almost all peoples is written in just such a semi-comprehensible language.

The writers of past times wrote too smoothly, too sweetly. Their things were reminiscent of that polished surface of which Korolenko spoke: ‘across it runs the plane of thought, touching nothing.’ The creation of a new, ‘tight’ language is necessary, directed at seeing, and not at recognition. And this necessity is unconsciously felt by many people.

The paths of the new art have only been indicated. It is not theoreticians, but artists who will travel those paths ahead of all others.