The Power of Rhetoric and the Crisis of Language: Carlo Michelstaedter’s iconic way of telling

Stefania Rutigliano

Abstract


This article deals with Carlo Michelstaedter’s Persuasion and Rhetoric. After recognizing the Jewish and Greek cultural origins of Michelstaedter’s criticism of rhetoric for being sufficient logos only to social communication, my aim is to consider that kind of criticism and the consequent ideal of persuaded man in relation to an idea of self-building taking in consideration also some Freudian ideas. I would like to indicate the images Michelstaedter uses as Bildersprache in his criticism on rhetoric (for example the weight, the air balloon, the hyperbola representing justice, all the persuaded named in the Preface among whom there are Christ with his parables and Petrarch remembered for his most iconic work, the Triumphi, intended as narration about the origins and a kind of cultural biography) and the function of (midrashic) storytelling with its ancient knowledge preceding rhetoric. On the other hand I focus on the analysis of the persona, which is the very point in relation to criticism of logos and leads to a model for the persuaded. The path towards it – the recurrent “it” in relation to the many persuaded in human history, the sudden light in the darkness, the child who is terrified by the dark, the men who, anguished by bad dreams, switch the light on, people as each others’ mirror – affirms the difference between knowledge and judgment (Benjamin, On language as such and the language of Man), between “this is” and “this is for me” (Michelstaedter), and suggests, almost as a presentiment of Freud’s theories, the work to be done to reveal unconsciousness

Keywords


Rhetoric, Michelstaedter, Judaism, Freud, Bildersprache.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.13125/2039-6597/1093

NBN: http://nbn.depositolegale.it/urn%3Anbn%3Ait%3Aunica-17098

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