Trevor Losh-Johnson: “The Phases and Modes of Language”


Responding to Bob Denham’s earlier post.

Since my Frygian orientation is based on the Anatomy, this is certainly a new and exiting schematic for me. I wish I could have cited my source for that comment on etiological theories of language, but I have had no luck finding it. There is always the possibility that it was a sort of excluded initiative during my reading that became a center of concern when I wrote my post.

Is there a term Frye used for the movement of the excluded initiative into its subsequent center of concern (I may not be using the term “concern” correctly)? If reversed, it seems to resemble the displacement of myth into descending modes in the Anatomy – “Reading forward in history, therefore, we may think of our romantic, high mimetic and low mimetic modes as a series of displaced myths, mythoi or plot-formulas progressively moving over towards the opposite pole of verisimilitude, and then, with irony, beginning to move back” (pg. 52, the final sentence of ‘Comic Fictional Modes’).

Also, is there any circular thrust to this model, adopted, as it seems, from De Lubac’s Medieval Exegesis? From what I know of De Lubac, his adapted categories were more or less static modes of interpretation. The model adopted from Vico has its implied ricorso, but what modulation is in the second seems to be without recurrence.

But as an applicative theory of language, it is just the thing that dovetails into my interests. I am interested in theories of language that apply to literature as an order of words, even if such theories do not apply much to linguistics as the discipline stands. My complaint, that comparative literature made me into an amateur expert on everything except literature, may apply in its own way to Prof. Adamson’s lament on the extraliterary.

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