Permanence and Change: An Anatomy of Purpose

By Kenneth Burke | Go to book overview

IV
STYLE

The Essence of Stylistic Appeal

IN ITS simplest manifestation, style is ingratiation. It is an attempt to gain favor by the hypnotic or suggestive process of "saying the right thing." Obviously, it is most effective when there is agreement as to what the right thing is. A plain-spoken people will distrust a man who, bred to different ways of statement, is overly polite and deferential with them, and tends to put his commands in the form of questions, (saying "Would you like to do this?" when he means "Do this"). They may even suspect him of "sneakiness." He, conversely, may consider their blunt manner a bit boastful, even at times when they are almost consumed with humility. The ways by which the mannered speaker would ingratiate himself with mannered listeners, or the plain-spoken one with blunt listeners, may thus become style gone wrong when the two groups cross.

I have seen men, themselves schooled in the experiences of alcohol, who knew exactly how to approach a drunken man, bent upon smashing something, and quickly to act upon him by such phrases and intonations as were "just right" for diverting

-71-

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Permanence and Change: An Anatomy of Purpose
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Permanence and Change - An Anatomy of Purpose *
  • Contents 7
  • Part I- On Interpretation 11
  • I- Orientation 11
  • II- Motives 30
  • III- Occupational Psychosis 54
  • IV- Style 71
  • V- Magic, Religion, and Science 82
  • Part II- Perspective by Incongruity 95
  • I- The Range of Piety 95
  • II- New Meanings 106
  • III- Perspective as Metaphor 118
  • IV- Argument by Analogy 128
  • V- Secular Conversions 164
  • VI- Meaning and Regression 193
  • Conclusion 207
  • Part III- The Basis of Simplification 214
  • I- Causality and Communication 214
  • II- Permanence and Change 227
  • III- Secular Mysticism in Bentham 237
  • IV- The Ethical Confusion 247
  • V- The Search for Motives 275
  • VI- Occupation and Preoccupation 303
  • VII- The Poetry of Action 316
  • Conclusions 336
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