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Impersonal Passion: Language as Affect. Author(s): Denise Riley: Published: April Pages: Sales/Territorial Rights: World. Impersonal Passion: Language as Affect. B. Duke University Press, Mary Kate McGowan. Denise Riley's Impersonal Passion: Language vocative essays.
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In this regard, she has a real talent for identifying what is mysterious about seemingly ordinary linguistic occasions. For example, most people have never stopped to think about how the expression "Why me? Who is being addressed and what would count as an adequate answer? Is this expression really a question or is it a lament? Another strength of the book is Riley's talent for describing what it feels like to use and understand language.
Unlike most other theorists, she concerns herself with the phenomenology of language use and she gets that phenomenology right.
For example, there is a peculiar feeling associated with using the latest words for talking about sex. It is often uncomfortable to do so and one is often additionally uncomfortable with that very discomfort. There is also a peculiar sensation associated with feeling like one is lying even though one is telling the whole truth. Suppose, for instance, that I truthfully tell an acquaintance that I cannot attend her party which I had previously committed to attending because I am not feeling well.
Riley contends that I will feel like I am lying even though I know that I am telling the truth.
Note that this feeling of lying is not the same as the feeling or the fearing of not being believed. I will feel like a liar and I will also feel at least initially confused by my feeling like a liar. After all, why should I feel this way when I am telling the truth? Riley diagnoses the case thus: When one uses an expression that is a conventional and polite way to lie, one feels like one is lying when using such expressions even when one does so truthfully. Many interesting themes run through the book.
First, Riley stresses how language constructs us. Being categorized as an X, for example, can affect how we think of ourselves, how we behave, and how others treat us.
Such "looping" is not limited to cases where X is a socially important category for example, 'woman,' 'welfare recipient,' or 'victim' , it occurs, according to Riley, even with the use of seemingly innocuous first names. Names often carry associations with them and these associations can affect us our entire lives. Second, Riley stresses how we adjust our language use to those around us and she points out that such "linguistic accommodation" can be or at least feel coercive.
Her provocative meditations suggest that while the emotional power of language is impersonal, this impersonality paradoxically constitutes the personal. Apr 13, Alexander rated it it was amazing. Forgotten password? Armed with the same skills as Chinese or Korean students, who know the meaning and writing of the kanji but not their pronunciation in Japanese, they are now in a much better position to learn to read which is treated in a separate volume. InImpersonal Passion, she turns to everyday complex emotional and philosophical problems of speaking and listening.