Contents

NOTE: this website is a draft version of my 2014 dissertation for Virginia Commonwealth University's Media, Art and Text program:

 "Rhetorical Ripples: The Church of the SubGenius, Kenneth Burke and Comic Symbolic Tinkering"




The TriPrimality:

“Bob” is.
“Bob” becomes.

“Bob” is not.

Nothing is; Nothing becomes;

Nothing is not.

Thus: Nothing Is Everything.

Thererfore: Everything is “Bob.”

Abracadabra.



Rhetorical Ripples: The Church of the SubGenius, Kenneth Burke & Comic, Symbolic Tinkering

ABSTRACT: Humor has long been an effective way to engage difficult sociopolitical topics in a way that avoids polemical confrontation and provides a positive opportunity for pleasure, catharsis and self-knowledge. In the context of today’s polarized politics and protest, creative satirical performance that deploys “symbolic tinkering” can provide a “comic frame of reference” that, according to Kenneth Burke, more effectively conveys its message while providing reflexive insight. The Church of the SubGenius naturally practices this rhetorical frame in their satirical multimedia creations. Using Burke’s Attitudes Toward History as a lens to focus our attention, this essay is an analysis of SubGenius rhetoric in their satire with a focus on selected transcriptions of their Hour of Slack live radio program and its adaptation into the book Revelation X. These texts can provide an informative example of Burke’s comic frame rhetoric in action, and can ultimately clarify the nature of its utility as we explore the extent of the rhetorical impact of the Church of the SubGenius.

 

1.     Definition, Origins & Selected History of the CoSG

2.     Academic Response

3.     Kenneth Burke: Ranging Rhetorician and Social Critic

4.     Analytic Approach: categorized discourse, analysis & survey

5.     Estimating the “congregation” via survey and other measures

6.     Burkean Rhetoric in Hour of Slack and Revelation X

7.     Purposes of the Comic Frame & Critic

8.     SubGenius Rhetorical Ripples of Resistance

9.     APPENDIX A: Glossary of Common SubGenius Terms

10.  APPENDIX B: Hour of Slack Listener survey & results

11.  APPENDIX C: List of radio stations that play Hour of Slack

12.  APPENDIX D: SubGenius Neologisms & Key Slogans

13.  APPENDIX E: Transcript of personal Interview with Rev. Stang

14.  APPENDIX F: Transcripts of emails exchanged with Rev. Stang

15.  APPENDIX G: Permissions

16.  Works Cited & Consulted



 

 

BEING BODIES THAT LEARN LANGUAGE

THEREBY BECOMING WORDLINGS

HUMANS ARE THE

SYMBOL-MAKING, SYMBOL-USING, SYMBOL-MISUSING ANIMAL

INVENTOR OF THE NEGATIVE

SEPARATED FROM OUR NATURAL CONDITION

BY INSTRUMENTS OF OUR OWN MAKING

GOADED BY THE SPIRIT OF HIERARCHY

ACQUIRING FOREKNOWLEDGE OF DEATH

AND ROTTEN WITH PERFECTION

 

FROM WITHIN OR

FROM OUT OF

THE VAST EXPANSES OF THE

INFINITE WORDLESS UNIVERSE

WE WORDY HUMAN BODIES HAVE CARVED

MANY OVERLAPPING UNIVERSES OF DISCOURSE

WHICH ADD UP TO A

PLURIVERSE OF DISCOURSES

LOCAL DIALECTS OF DIALECTIC

 

Kenneth Burke