Healing Through the Classics: Using Antigone to Moderate Diverging Accounts of Resistance

Johnson, Paul
January 2008
Conference Papers -- National Communication Association;2008, p1
Conference Paper
Rhetoricians still replay the same tired fight between realists and "postmodernists" over and over ad infinitum. This dialogue continues to be unproductive, as year after year panels and essays are devoted to figuring out which side is right- those who find the "postmodernists" disconnected from material reality, or those who find the focus on materiality minimizes the role of rhetoric to play in the world at large. Because this conflict is essentially an ethical one (materialists believe the postmodern turn is a sort of unethical disconnection from reality while the "postmoderns" find the focus on material reality ethically dangerous because of the strong role language plays in constructing the world), this paper will turn to the ultimate figure of ethics in the classics: Antigone. As the character who "does not give way to her desire", Antigone stands as the model for true ethics according to the psychoanalytic perspective of Jacque Lacan. While materialists seek to resist the effects of ideology, and the resistance of the "postmoderns" is focused on establishing conditions for possibility, this paper argues that in the classical text of Antigone we can find a mediating voice in our contemporary clash that can shed new light on why the conflict persists. ..PAT.-Unpublished Manuscript


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