Quote | The Motives of Eloquence

From Richard A. Lanham’s The Motives of Eloquence: Literary Rhetoric in the Renaissance.

“Man has a ‘motive,’ and urge, just to be alive, to reenact his own existence, and thus bolster, intensify it. It is this urge, this eloquence of behavior, that the rhetorical styles come to express and allegorize. It is this urge which Plato and Platonists take pains to deny. They suspect—though they rarely see how—that it is deeply subversive of their own kind of seriousness. They thus condemn themselves to a mistaken and introverted defense of the realized self. The self must be embodied just as thought must find the body of words. Plato denied both embodiments. But it is from them that love comes; there is no path around them. Thus Plato’s conception of love remained fundamentally narcissistic. To really love another, one must face the profoundly disorienting properties of language, of human society, and learn to ensile and thus control them. This facing-down of dissolution constitutes the artist’s task par excellence and so Plato fears the artists. The artist faces the problem Plato would define out of existence. But it will not go away. When Socrates builds his ladder and climbs it he is not solving the problem the Symposium sets us. He is running away from it. To face it requires more intelligence as well as more courage that Plato’s Socrates could muster.” (48)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s