chapter 9

Symbolism as a Realistic Mode
“De-Psychoanalyzing” Logologized
1979
The main interest of this essay is in Kenneth Burke’s recapitulation of the place
of entelechy in his work from Philosophy of Literary Form (1941) through
Dramatism and Development (1972) in the “Addendum.” Other points of interest are his various definitions of what he means by “logological realism” and
his often-repeated distinction between archetype and entelechy. The subtitle describes the logologizing process that Burke kept performing in so many of these
late essays, translating the work of other thinkers (Plato, Marx, Freud, Jung,
Saint Augustine) into logological terms. There is a certain amount of repetition
in these late essays because Burke likes to use the same examples over and over
again, and the logologizing process is itself somewhat repetitive because the main
logological coordinates and assertions about language do not change.
The distinction Burke makes between “timeless” and historically “uncaused”
recurrent archetypes and Burkean “entelechy” is crucial for logology and, going
back a ways, for his dramatistic poetics. Entelechy, as Burke uses it, is a function
of language; it is the ability, or the possibility, of developing a terministic set to
the end of the line, or “to perfection.” God is one example, but so is the devil.
Tragedy, for example, is the perfect cathartic form of drama because it has the
most perfect tragic protagonists and victims. At a more mundane level, we can
linguistically arrive at the idea of “perfect” bread or the “perfect storm,” or the
“mother of all battles.” Though none of these “perfections” could possibly exist. Burke’s specialty is verbal texts. One of his best examples of “entelechial”
analysis and thinking can be found in his essay “The First Three Chapters of
Genesis” in The Rhetoric of Religion (1961), especially in the section devoted to
the “cycle of terms implicit in the Idea of ‘Order’ ” (see the chart on page 184).
Burke was always an extremely careful and accurate entitler. Symbolism is a
realistic mode because language (which is what symbolism means here) is used
to describe and discuss real events and things in the real world. Even a text is realistically what it is: a verbal structure in which the words are facts that can be
empirically studied. A text, as such, is as realistic as any other physical thing or
object. The subtitle “ ‘De-Psychoanalyzing’ Logologized” is a little more complicated. Burke tended to argue with a great many major thinkers in his defense
of logology. These included Freud, Jung, B. F. Skinner, N. O. Brown, Buckminster Fuller, Marshall McLuhan, René Wellek, Fredric Jameson, J. Hillis Miller,
Cleanth Brooks, Wayne Booth, and many others. In “De-Psychoanalyzing” psychoanalysis, which Burke considers too idealistic, he translates it into terms of
logological realism. Psychoanalysis, in whichever specific form it is practiced, is
always bound to an idealized cycle of terms, a nomenclature. Burke wants a theory of the mind and body (of the self) that is more materialistic and realistic than
210

” and especially “Variations on ‘Providence.” “Towards Looking Back. Aristotle’s term “imitation. especially. in contrast with the use of “real” victims in the gladiatorial contests of the Roman theater.” I was moved to make some comments which. which Burke defines in a variety of ways throughout the essay. including for instance the “four-fold” scheme of mediaeval hermeneutics.” the most general meaning of the term “symbolism” is “communication in terms of a symbol-system.” as applied to tragedy. for example. The manifest content of some symbolic expression is the analogue of a latent content. would involve another aspect of the “symbolic” in the sense that an Athenian tragedy was but a symbolic enactment of suffering. in the United States we speak an “American” brand of English—and my particular application of that langue in this article is an instance of symbolic action.211 Symbolism as a Realistic Mode the idealized view of the self found in most psychoanalysis. We should probably begin with the term “symbolism. Any Marxist theory of the distinction between “bourgeois cosmopolitanism” and “socialist realism” would also exemplify a concern with particular dialects of symbolism within the realm of symbolism in general.’ ” Burke also discusses logology at some length in the interview “Counter-Gridlock. the nature of which is defined in accordance with the particular theories of motivation and interpretation propounded by the given psychological nomencla- . “Logological realism” is the key term here. “Why Satire.” *** i On reading the very suggestive article by Anthony Burton in your fall 1978 issue.” In my “dramatistic” view of “language as symbolic action. might in turn call forth further comments.” The “symbols” of a dream are “symptomatic” of psychological perturbations in the “psyche” of the dreamer. This is the last of the four logology essays in this group. as synonymous with “symptomatic action. However. And so on.” That is. See. many other essays in this collection also deal extensively with Burke’s logological views and. But Freud uses the term “symbolic action” in a more specialized sense. With a Plan for Writing One. “Beauty and the Beast: A Critique of Psychoanalytic Approaches to the Fairy Tale. with the connections he works out between logology and technology. “Psychoanalytic approaches to symbolic activity are clearly a form of idealistic social science” (3). When we are dealing with psychoanalytic modes of interpretation such as Freud’s and Jung’s. I hope. the overall “logological” fact is that we are necessarily involved in theories of analogy.

The existing analogies. (255–56) Accordingly. the Beauty and the Beast tale. On page 255. But it might serve as a good point of departure in the direction of questions about the relation between symbolism in general (“logology”) and the role of analogy in the psychoanalytic study of mythology. Burton complains that such laxity with “archetypes” is not “realistic. he claims.” Then. polygyny. Henderson. rites of vision. . ii First. are significant enough in themselves to warrant the prominence we have given them.” Burton quotes Jung’s quite relevant comment to this effect: “We are concerned first and foremost to establish certain analogies. we could say “ahistorically” that any such terms as “archetype” or “initiation” are at a high level of generalization. or of the situation in which the mother’s brother normally acts as the cultural father? To subsume all these under one archetype does not seem realistic. But marriage takes many forms. He brings the Hopi snake youth myth. . . Treated ahistorically in this way. and no more than that. Burton asks: “When is an archetype not an archetype?” I can’t promise to “solve” that problem. But he applies the term broadly throughout his book.212 Logology ture. saying that the archetypes “are without known origin. the existence of such analogies does not entitle us to conclude that the connection is already proven. communal and single mother arrangements. however. . a Jungian psychologist who has written on “Beauty and the Beast.” And he quotes a later statement. in reference to a work by Joseph L. Any pronounced transformation from one state to another could be conceivably classifiable under the head of “initiation. .” Burton says: Initiation. and the Dionysius cult together with many other events as examples of one subcategory of this one archetype. to trials of strength. . on the subject of “archetypes. the construct is too vague to be useful. and many other cultural activities. . and they reproduce themselves at any time or in any part of the world—even where transmission by direct descent or ‘cross-fertilization’ must be ruled out. These are little more than resemblances. the resources of analogy being what they are.” But though I .” particularly if there were some rite that formally commemorated the development or event as a change of social status. Henderson seems oblivious to the problem. kibbutzim. . Thresholds of Initiation. and includes motherhood. . is an archetype. What is to be made archetypally of polyandry. Marriage is also claimed to be an archetype.

But in those passages I have quoted. is reducible to two theories of origin. his references to analogy with regard to archetypes would strike me as a quite realistic observation about such terms.Symbolism as a Realistic Mode 213 grant that Jung is far out on the slope of idealism. as terms. some particular archetypal ceremony for marriage might incorporate imagery of plowing a field for planting. Let’s see how things look if. And “ideas” are conceived as derived by that distinguished descent. archetypes are not “things” with definable edges. Burton does a neat job presenting these two terministic operations. calls for the adjective “dialectical”). on the subject of “Psychoanalysis and Materialism. on going back over the whole subject. as per “water table” or “cathedral”). The final pages of his paper sharpen the issue perfectly. quickly take on analogical usage. by the way. advised Marxists to study Hegel. we proceed with the help of quotations from Burton’s able statement of the case. like tables or chairs (which. the pressure of the wonders that were by psychoanalysis revealed kept even Jung from making the step from implicit psychological idealism to explicit logological realism. since I am referring to it. being made manifest in the logic of history. And in early books. using the same most helpfully accurate essay as our point of departure.” And their embodiment in story (“myth”) quite spontaneously destroys borders. if we accept the rules that are implicit in reduction to a choice between idealism and materialism (each of which. Or a magical imagery of planting might well help things out by incorporating connotations of a story [“myth”] in which a woman is being impregnated. Namely: In Hegel. This is a metaphysical analogue of the theological view of a Divine Spirit made incarnate. I can make further cuts). Surely. he was obviously quite close.” The difference. (For instance. though the “methodology of logology” requires us to go from concerns with “symbolism in general” to the technical analysis of psychoanalytic nomenclature.” he makes it quite clear how mere matters of nomenclature (“Logological” considerations) line up. In Marx the provenance gets reversed. which develops as a series of responses to their influence. But he couldn’t get it wholly straight because of the terministic pressure whereby.) Jung came quite close to getting this matter straight. Hegel’s idealistic version dug so deep that even Lenin. Nature and History are the unfolding of the Absolute Idea through time. Marx was classed as a “neoHegelian. and ideas arise as a reflection . as Burton’s trim analysis makes clear (hence. They are titles for some kind of “principle. as a useful step along the way. There. after its own fashion.

K.e. for instance. that is. They are not seriously modified by cultural factors. the vocabulary of their tribal idiom. Any such symbolic resources are necessarily learned in “contexts of situation” that are themselves outside the realm of symbolism as such. Richards’s book. A group of illiterate natives are engaged in a cooperative act of catching fish. . “That is. 257). . Such systems of explanation are idealist in that they are sets of ideas. iii In a supplement to C. (257) But is our only choice that between idealism and materialism? Might there be room for a brand of realism that doesn’t quite go along with either of those opposing metaphysical nomenclatures. . A. yet finds much of great value in both? Let’s see what might be said along those lines. Symbols. .” their group coordination by the use of symbolism in this enterprise is about as realistic an enterprise as you could ask for. in which the internal relationships among the terms do not have any such direct bearing upon the “context of sit- . technology. if at all. and relate forms of social organization and ideology (i. the anthropologist Malinowski applies the term “symbolic action” to a quite realistic situation. etc. in the two cases given here. the Psyche. The Meaning of Meaning. Every utterance is related to the problem at hand. .214 Logology of economic conditions. Archaic Time. and began somewhere in archaic time. work. as prime factors. In keeping with these options: Psychoanalytic approaches to symbolic activity are clearly a form of idealistic social science. ritual. Archetypes. Oedipality. in calling back and forth to one another—and whatever may be their involvement in “myths. beliefs. myth. without the aid of symbolism. Ogden and I. demographic trends. one could try to explain sociocultural phenomena and their workings by considering the largely environmental mental mechanisms of settlement. . Malinowski also touches upon symbolic structures of a quite different nature (books. Their most substantial claim to value is that they have ameliorative effects when used with patients. the mutual interchange of instructions for carrying out an act which could have only been performed much less efficiently. are all mental constructs. language.. As part of the process they use language. Symbols are pan-human and universal through time and space. the Unconscious.) to such ‘earthly’ mechanisms” (Burton. They function in the psyche according to principles that are intended to hold for people everywhere—Oedipal conflict or archetype.

” Regardless of whether it is a reflection of Hegel’s “Absolute Idea. as portraits of human . he learned language by hearing words spoken in nonverbal contexts of situation. though Jeremy Bentham says that our “fictions” for psychological and ethical terms are borrowed analogically from the strictly material realm. Similarly. There is a passage in Burton’s article stating that technology could be viewed either along Hegelian lines as “from heaven to earth. (La Rochefoucauld’s Maxims.” or along Marxist lines as “from earth to heaven” (257).Symbolism as a Realistic Mode 215 uation” in which they are being used. Emerson agrees with him. We should also remember that. Even Saint Augustine. it has a nature of its own. with corresponding powers. plus a transcendental twist whereby God puts nature here as a kind of raw material for us to work from when etymologically perfecting our terminology of Spirit. But the kind of “logological realism” that I am trying to put in a word for would be “ahistorical” in the sense that. in either case. there are many notable realistic observations that we can make about the resourcefulness of symbolsystems.” when considering the role of “language as a mode of symbolic action. we must guard against a “genetic fallacy. although orthodox theology’s view of Adam as created in God’s image embodies the provenance “from heaven to earth. as an infant. Adam and Eve were the only human parents who began with linguistic competence (and in the lingua Adamica even. or John Mandeville’s “Fable of the Bees” could fit perfectly with theological views. who. offered purely realistic speculations as to how.” a “fallacy of origins.” the account of the Creation is intrinsically interwoven with the story of the Fall. of course. once arisen. But in any case. in their own right. for instance. for the development of which Adam was given a major assignment in taxonomy). as innovative or “creative” forces. In fact. hence expulsion from the Garden sets up ample conditions for quite “tough-minded” vocabularies of human motivation. believed that we are born in the image of God. though that wasn’t his name for them.” also called the “World Spirit” (his idealistically metaphysical analogues of “God”) or but an etymological development from words for sensations extended analogically in accordance with Bentham’s theory of fictions. though Marxists might complain unless you put it more strictly: from substructure to superstructure. a book is itself a “context” for any subdivision of the book as a text. whether “ideas” (or language in general) be derived from an idealistic metaphysical background or from a materialistic one.

so well designed for “pointing the arrows” of our expectations). veiled by religious and political illusions.”) In any case. whatever credit might go to the bourgeoisie for unmasking the element of illusion that Marxism attributed to feudalism’s personalistic view of economic relationships was. In effect. owing to the fact that the rationale of the Marxist dialectic allows for a shifting point of view whereby. a rhetorical marvel. at this point. (Incidentally. shameless.” rather than embodying a “materialistic debunking” of “idealistic” pretensions. realistic analysis of motives should be “neutral.216 Logology relations in a society that is turned away from God—and Moliere’s portrait of Tartuffe was defended as an attack not against the faith but against religious hypocrisy. there are some sizzling passages which seem to “structure” the topics of persuasion thus: The bourgeois period destroyed the highly “personal” aspect of the terms for group relationships under feudalism. beyond all question. for instance (a text to match with the Sermon on the Mount as a rock-bottom “theory of history”).” The several following paragraphs that “amplify” this statement are. for exploitation.) However. much of the “revolutionary. a purely secular. the Marxist dialectic could give the bourgeoisie “credit” for introducing the revolutionary principle. direct.” or “radically innovative” motivation that the manifesto attributes to the bourgeoisie’s tie-in with technology may be largely due to the nature of technology itself. it gives credit to capitalism for having so effectively introduced the revolutionary policies which Marxist socialism is but continuing. in view of standard references to our “revolution. for instance. brutal exploitation. after its fashion. it has substituted naked. For there certainly was no need that the Marxist text run counter to bourgeois usage. the bourgeoisie can be hailed as “emancipators” in the struggles against feudalism. to the extent that the idea of a socialist “revolution” was in bad repute among the bourgeoisie.” The ingenious rhetorical twist is that the manifesto contrived paradoxically to excoriate the bourgeois as a kind of relentless personality in the very act of eliminating personal relations (such as the feudal rationale had clung to). Marxism is fluctuant in this regard. yet can also be subjected to ingenious scorn as foes of socialism—and often these attacks can profit rhetorically by quasi-theological accents.” the French. whatever kind of political system may. be aiming to profit by the advantages of technology with a hoped-for minimum of its troublous “side effects. a corrupting of the faith. First (thanks to the persuasive elements that are implicit in the Marxist dialectic. and the term “Industrial Revolution. In The Communist Manifesto. . “In one word.

shameless.” But with regard to the opening words of Genesis. the flat distinction between idealism and materialism gets modified by the official cult of “socialist realism. “An archetype is not an archetype when it’s an entelechy.” The most direct way into the subject.” the Latin is in principio. “In the beginning. and the theme of depersonalization was played up (in terms of “naked. Similarly. Also.” which in effect proclaims itself to be as personalistic as the religiously infused (hence by Marxist tests. There are two kinds of priority: logical (as per the syllogistic design: first premise/second premise/conclusion) and temporal (yesterday/ today/tomorrow). in Latin. Since my Grammar of Motives (1945). I have touched on this matter in many ways—particularly in my essay on “The First Three Chapters of Genesis” (reprinted in my Rhetoric of Religion.” logological realism would answer promptly. brutal exploitation”). 1972). Here I must try merely to give the gist of my position. the plural of the Greek word arché matches the Latin when referring to “the first principles of a science. And understandably a realism of this sort can be so attuned as to become the propagandistic handmaiden of dialectical materialism’s party politics. the word principium means “principle” as in the expression “the first principles of science. but with regard to Freud’s Oedipal “archetype.Symbolism as a Realistic Mode 217 played down. as here approached through Burton’s essay. direct. iv Whereupon it is now time for us to make clear what we mean by “logological realism. Dramatism and Development.” This would involve a distinction between Platonic archetypes as idealistic and Aristotelian entelechies as realistic. In both Greek and Latin. 1961) and in “Archetype and Entelechy” (the second of two talks printed in a volume. is on page 255: “When is an archetype not an archetype?” I couldn’t offer a blanket answer to that question. “illusory”) rationale of feudalism had been. Thus. the same words mean “beginning” in both senses.” The Gospel of John begins en arché—and the temporal meaning shows clearly in such words as “archives” or “archaeology. We can also say that the term for a class of objects is “logically prior” to any and all of the particulars classifiable under that head. in contrast with the outright materialistic debunking of politics outside the party.” . It had been the bourgeois theorists who introduced a “godless” explanation of economic hardships.

It adds a Law. there is no one particular table which you could point to and say. If A considers B an essentially loathsome fellow.” But that’s the gist of what it says. For instance. viewed in terms of logological realism. by their style. are derived thus: The word for a class of objects can be treated as “prior” to any particulars classified under that head. the Fall was implicit in the Creation. features the tactics of temporal priority. Plato’s archetypes. Fundamentalists resented Darwinian evolutionism because.” you’ll note that it encompasses a class of objects countless numbers of which have not even yet been produced. mythos) being a more primitive form of discourse than philosophy.” Genesis. my expression “the temporizing of essence” refers to ways whereby the view of what something is gets presented in terms of the thing’s origin. A defines B’s nature now in terms of his provenance. the Bible doesn’t begin with (say) a logological analysis of the proposition that “implicit in the idea of a social order there is the idea of possible disobedience to that order. In effect. the theory of our “descent” from apes was equivalent to calling us apes—and at times Darwin became so emphatic in distinguishing simply between the “natural” and the “supernatural” that the important logological distinction between “dumb” animals and the human prowess with “symbol systems” got obscured. all told. in its particular narrative way. which would be the “archetype” that was “prior” to the lot. It shows God making a creature in his image. what it was or came from. And this law. as a book of beginnings. whereby disobedience is made possible. The . So.218 Logology “Essence” is a word for what something is.” And so on. “That is ‘table. where “Lead us not into temptation” means rather. propounded by the first and foremost authority.’ ” For any particular table will have details that distinguish it from every other table. But each table would in its way be an “imitation” of the “ideal form” as stated in the definition. if you consult the definition of the word “table. in the most perfect surroundings imaginable. In my Grammar of Motives.” since the Law made temptation possible. There is a vulgar usage that reveals the process most clearly. There is a sense in which it can even be temporally prior. Narrative (story.” By the Law we are “tempted in principle. he can spontaneously say so in quasi-narrative terms by calling B a bastard or a son of a bitch. Logology here would introduce reference to the “fallacy of origins. One gets glimpses of this exquisite ambiguity in the Lord’s Prayer. many instances of which are not even yet in existence. since we “inherited” such “original sin” from the “first’’ man “in time. and proneness to temptation is of our very essence. “Put us not to the test. is sinned against by our first ancestor. Also.

” The nomenclature of physics.Symbolism as a Realistic Mode 219 word contains the root arché. a tree to evolve in keeping with its nature as a tree. politics in another. “the tracking down of implications. Aristotle uses the term “entelechy” to designate the efforts of each thing to fulfill the potentialities of its kind—a fish aiming to be perfectly or thoroughly a fish. suggests certain possibilities of further development. namely. Cutting many corners. there is no “archaic” or “temporally prior” situation involved. translated into terms of story. and took over the women. But Freud felt that he needed it as a postulate for his theory. Anthropologists complained that they found no evidence of any such event. Henry James’s prefaces often tell of some likely turn he proceeded to develop. v And now to the Freudian “archetype” of the “primal crime” committed in “prehistory. slew him. economics in another. by going from step to step. It is simply an instance of “carrying things to the end of the line. bequeathed to us in the tensions of the modern family. as analyzed in terms of logological realism.” “tracking down implications to the point where we don’t need to distinguish . I’d state the situation thus: The representative tensions of the family as I have studied it would come to a “perfect fulfillment” if the young males banded together against the father. Where then was this “pure form” experienced? Actually. Logological realism would restrict this notion to an incentive in language. I call this an “entelechial” aspect of symbolic motivation. the psychoanalytic nomenclature has no need to postulate that such a “culmination” ever did happen or ever will happen. with corresponding psychological results such-and-such. As so considered. It is a purely grammatical matter of classification. for instance. Logological realism could have shown him how his problem could have been “solved” by the simple expedient of turning from thoughts of Platonic archetypes to thoughts of Aristotelian entelechies.” whereas Freud had denied “perfection” as a motive. saying here only enough to convey the gist.” and so essentially “originating” that the results of it still survive. I’d have Freud say: Thinking of representative family tensions in the light of the entelechial principle (replacing psychological idealism by concepts of logological realism). The nomenclature of psychology suggests possibilities in another direction. It involves all sorts of strivings after “perfection.

going on. thus: He would change the rules.” (38n) Books that take us to the end of the line .220 Logology too scrupulously between ‘logical conclusion’ and ‘reduction to absurdity. 166.” Freud’s view of human relations is in its very essence highly “dramatistic. though without reference to either “archetype” or “entelechy.” .” He was in effect conceiving of the “perfect family drama” to express the tensions as he sized them up. that would seek Nirvana by burning something out. . he hypothesized an actual event where no actuality of any sort (nothing but symbolism) was needed. In my Grammar of Motives (430–40). 161. he finds that he is in a Negro church. 118. and “the preacher’s text was about the blackness of darkness. and burn out temptation by efficient excess of it.” There. He would start . and I ran into the need for a third term. “Snow-drop on a tuft of snow. the notion is further developed. despite his great symbolic shrewdness. I had been working with the two notions of self-expression and communication. on an uncompromising journey “to the end of the line.’ and all the more so since we’re in a field where things get quite unsettled. . . 86.” I specifically criticize Freud’s hypothesis of a primal “horde ruled over despotically by a powerful male.” he enters a door where he stumbles over an ash box. with regard to “the temporizing of essence. . (70) Note a “serial” quality in the “to the end of the line” mode—a kind of “withinness of withinness.” And my criticism is built around my point about the ambiguous relation between terms for logical and temporal priority whereby statements about how something essentially is can be phrased narratively .” And in Moby Dick there is an especially “efficient” passage of this sort. . But owing to the ever recurrent ambiguity whereby statements of “essence” can get phrased in terms of an “archaic” (mythic) past. almost as a matter of course. addendum to symbolism as a realistic mode Perhaps the handiest way into my proposed adaptation of Aristotle’s term “entelechy” (to name a generative principle that is usually classed under the head of “archetype”) is by some references in my Philosophy of Literary Form (1941) where I hadn’t yet quite got to it. One may get the pattern in Coleridge’s line.” (88) There are related references on pages 3. prophetically announcing the quality of Ishmael’s voyage: after walking through “blocks of blackness. .

in the next paragraph I referred to Plato’s Meno in which the principles of knowledge are presented as innate in us. Thus. or more grandly. imputing to his chosen victim every vice connected with the problem at hand. “God” becomes the overall title of titles for any system (as “dialectical materialism” might be deemed the “godterm” of Marxist atheism). is similarly the case with Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past). each kind striving toward the perfection of its kind. were . and so towards the kind next above it.Symbolism as a Realistic Mode 221 in terms of derivation from how it originally was (a device all the more “natural” to an age so Darwinian in its thinking). albeit apologetically: “I think it is creditable to such a hypothesis if it proves able to bring coherence and understanding into more and more new regions. he needed the concept as a term in his description of the family essence. while the strivings of the entire series head in God as the beloved cynosure and sinecure. the end of all desire.” having in mind the thought that there can be “perfect” fools and “perfect” stinkers. and so on—as with Hitler’s “vision of perfection” whereby he “idealized” the Jew. and “remembered from a past existence. I could include in my definition of the human. every vice (and in particular whatever vices his followers might suspect in one another. My Rhetoric of Motives (1961) moves things farther along by closing on a summarizing reference to the rhetorical and dialectic symmetry of the Aristotelian metaphysics whereby all classes of beings are hierarchally arranged in a chain or ladder or pyramid of mounting worth.” The section next develops at some length an analysis of Ibsen’s Peer Gynt as a narrative form in which essential motives are properly presented in terms of temporal priority (as. Though anthropologists said that they found no evidence of any such prehistoric situation. And if the “essence” of family tensions now must be stated in such quasi-evolutionary terms (of an analogically imputed prehistoric past) then “whatever doubts one might cast upon the pattern of the primal horde as an existent. Freud still clung to it. I could have added. symbol-using animal the clause “rotten with perfection.” He “needed” the story only because he was spontaneously characterizing the essence of a situation now in terms of temporal priority. As “logologically” adapted. And “perfection” undergoes a transformation of this sort: By “perfection” is meant the way in which the unfoldings of a terminology are in effect the “strivings” to the end of the line.” I was getting close to the out-and-out distinction between archetype and entelechy when.

or vice versa.) On page 312 I discuss the “principle of perfection” in the idea of Hell. which comes to a focus in the need for Law. and the Law “makes sin possible. as the First Authority sets up the Order. An explicit reference to “entelechy” and the “logic of perfection” is on page 300. on the subject of the Trinity. The term “Order” implies such terms as “Obedience” or “Disobedience” to the Order. in terms of story (narrative. But in the corresponding story.” The terms as such imply one another without any temporal dimension. a statement such as “I don’t like you” could be “perfected” by translation into a statement such as “I could kill you.” while “perfectly” reversing the procedure when looking for the meanest way of characterizing any motive of the enemy). though the Father is “first. And to reject revision is to fear lest a “primal” perfection already there in essence will get lost. temporal priority) the account of the integral relation between the Creation and the Fall is a “mythic” way of saying that the principle of disobedience is implicit in the nature of Order. given the dramatizing possibilities of language. I also touched upon the fact that.” the second of two talks published under the title of Dramatism and De- . My essay on “The First Three Chapters of Genesis” is designed to show how. in one sense or another. the term “Order” implies the term “Disorder. I discuss the ambiguities of the difference between logical and temporal priority by noting how.222 Logology it not that they could “give their faults the name of the good quality most like it.) In my Rhetoric of Religion the issues so come together that I can here but indicate the angles. And you must admit that that is a wholly temporal way of showing how the principle of negation presents the possibility of being negated.” And a dream might thus “perfect” the judgment by dreaming of you as dead.” and vice versa. In my Sixth Analogy (25 ff). On page 184. and so on. it was deemed a heresy to conceive of such succession in terms of temporal sequence. the story can go from a state of Order to a state of Disorder. But in narrative accounts.” (Hence the “first” man could say No to the first thou-shalt-not. then gives the Negative Command that makes Disobedience possible. to be aiming at perfection. I offer a “Cycle of Terms Implicit in the Idea of Order. (But I am here developing further the statement in the text. The head-on discussion is the article on “Archetype and Entelechy. they are related in a temporally irreversible sequence. To revise is.” then the Son. That is.

or a son kills his father. “The repressive instinct never ceases to strive after its complete satisfaction. or a son his mother—either kills or intends to kill.Symbolism as a Realistic Mode 223 velopment (1972). 1922) had called upon us “to abandon our belief that in man there dwells an impulse towards perfection.” designations for a psychopathic tendency to relive some prior traumatic situation by so confronting a totally different set of later circumstance that they are interpreted by the sufferer in terms of the original painfully formative situation. it’s worth remembering that the prime instance of the sacrificial motive in the Old Testament is the story of Abraham’s pious willingness to sacrifice Isaac.” And I stated the case thus: . or a mother her son. which has brought him to his present heights of intellectual prowess and sublimation. I proposed “to consider how it looks.” I argue that these two sentences are mutually contradictory. his emphasis is upon not its origins but on its modes of completion.” Though he does discuss the earlier forms out of which tragedy developed. While not disputing the likelihood of such a tendency.” I have never seen evidence that Freud ever read this passage.” And a little later he said. I there build around the passage in the Poetics where Aristotle says that in tragedy the calamity should involve conflicts among intimates (or. “someone near and dear”) “when brother kills brother. I take it that Aristotle is giving us “the recipe for perfect victimage. For what could more clearly represent an “impulse to perfection” than “striving” after “complete satisfaction”? Freud proposes to substitute what he calls a “repetition compulsion. I further note: For all Freud’s emphasis on the fatherkill. as viewed in the light of an ‘entelechial’ principle having wider functions than the manifestations with which Freud is here concerned.” or rather the “perfect imitated victim”—“and by ‘entelechy’ I refer to such use of symbolic resources that the potentialities can be said to attain their perfect fulfillment. But Freud (in Beyond the Pleasure Principle. which doesn’t at all single out the one “Oedipal” crime as Freud does.” or “destiny compulsion. And the entire logic of the New Testament is built about the story of a divine father who deliberately sent his son on a mission to be crucified. And the curse on the House of Atreus involved a situation in which a father unknowingly (unconsciously?) ate the hearts of his sons at a banquet supposedly celebrating a reconciliation between brothers. in Butcher’s translation.

insofar as the sufferer was in effect striving to impose a ‘perfect’ form by using the key terms of his formative wound as a paradigm. there are no such entries in the index. And often by the “temporizing of essence. Accordingly one might so interpret a later situation that it was like the older situation over again. the goad to try “perfecting” symbolic structures by “tracking down implications to the end of the line. consider two “theories of history” such as The Sermon on the Mount and The Communist Manifesto. as viewed “logologically. Both are so essentially entelechial in their structure that both are stories of a perfecting process. 69–74. so far as matters of sheer logological analysis are concerned. Incidentally. 361. And this process “would be ‘entelechial’ or ‘perfectionist’ in the ironic sense of the term. the entelechial principle itself can lead to a temporizing in the other direction. For instance.” despite the fact that such efforts at perfection might cause the unconscious striver great suffering? I but proposed to widen the concept of perfection as I have already explained. 145. 160–62. But owing to the ambiguities whereby essential situations can be expressed in terms of quasitemporal priority.” involves but an “entelechial” perfecting of symbol-systems. And I develop the notion that an early “traumatic” experience might lead one to see life in those terms. 54–55.224 Logology Is not the sufferer exerting almost superhuman efforts in the attempt to give his life a certain form. so shaping his relations to people in later years that they will conform perfectly to an emotional or psychological pattern already established in some earlier formative situation? What more thorough illustration could one want of a drive to make one’s life “perfect. The pages on Poe deal with the . 384–85. Though my book Language as Symbolic Action (1966) has very many passages that fall under the head of entelechy or perfection. Both are perfect patterns of fulfillment.” an overstress upon the term “archetype” leads to talk of the “archaic” or “primordial” where the real issue. I discuss several other aspects of the case.” I then discuss in effect how Freud psychiatrically reversed this process by imagining the kind of outbursts that would “perfectly” express family tensions as he sees them.” is a kind of formal compulsion intrinsic to mankind’s involvement in the resources of symbolic action. 153–56. Here are a few: 19–27. all involving the notion that the “entelechial” motive. he presents this entelechial symbolizing of fulfillment as the derivative of an archetypal situation that actually happened in the “archaic” past.

.Symbolism as a Realistic Mode 225 “perfection” of death. And his account of how he “derived” The Raven is an interesting instance of the shifts between logical and temporal priority. notes This essay originally appeared in the Psychocultural Review 3 (winter 1979): 25–37.