Quote of the Day: “Our job is to resist such language”

“The irritable reaching after fact and reason may take a long time, and there’s no guarantee that we won’t forever remain in uncertainties, mysteries, and doubt about the motives of the Arizona killer. But regardless of what we do or do not discover, the use of language that frames one’s political opponents as prey to be shot has no place in civic discourse. No negative capability is required to take that position. As Frye says, every society has some measure of mob rule and lynch law, and the language of both, in his words, ‘congeals into a mood of anticipatory violence.’ Our job is to resist such language.”  — Bob Denham, in the comment thread today

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2 thoughts on “Quote of the Day: “Our job is to resist such language”

  1. Josh

    This is a pretty good blog about Sarah Palin. As a Frye blog it’s so-so. The only post on today’s front page that is not about Palin, Glenn Beck or mob violence is about William James and…David Bowie? Is this what passes for “relevance” nowadays? You might as well just quote Andrew Sullivan, who has a better Sarah Palin blog. I’m a democrat and a Frye lover, and it was nice to find a blog about someone I love but who you don’t hear about any more. But if I don’t want to read about Sarah Palin, there’s a lot of digging to be done. Maybe that’s why we don’t hear about him any more.

    1. Michael Happy Post author


      Because this website is dedicated to Northrop Frye, it also deals with social and cultural issues, about which Frye had a wide, deep and abiding interest. We have posted on Frye and rock ‘n’ roll, Frye and the movies, Frye and science fiction, Frye and fascism, Frye and communism, Frye and — well, Frye and just about everything. Our model is the old general interest magazines, like the New Yorker, which Frye happened to love — and I do mean love. (We’ve posted on that too.) Frye was very much engaged with the world around him. He was never an ivory tower scholar. He was a subtle and generous critic of the popular arts. He was also a social democrat and, as he put it in the Double Vision, a plainclothesman for the United Church of Canada, which pursues a social gospel.

      Your characterization of our last twenty posts is more than a little off: the common thread — involving, yes, Sarah Palin — is mob mentality, rhetoric and ideology, and the fascist strain in all societies, particularly from the political right. We’ve cited Frye extensively on these issues, and have done so before this week. Our Saturday Night spot, meanwhile, has always been devoted to popular culture, and typically features movies and videos (if you didn’t like the David Bowie videos this week, maybe the film adaptation of Jean Genet’s The Maids last week would have worked for you — Bowie has a song about Genet, by the way). It’s kind of a weekend-leisure thing, and Frye was a big believer in the civilized and civilizing aspect of leisure.

      In short, all of this is Frye relevant, but relevant to a Frye you seem to be unfamiliar with. Sorry you didn’t find what you were looking for here.


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