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#91235 01/08/03 05:38 AM
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Today's word cites pathetic fallacy with this meaning:

>The attribution of human traits to nature or inanimate objects.

[Coined by John Ruskin in 1856.]<

But I'm not familiar with this term. I've always used, heard, and been taught personification as the proper term for this.

Has anyone else ever heard pathetic fallacy used to describe traits of personification?



#91236 01/08/03 06:38 AM
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I always understood that the difference between pathetic fallacy and personification is that personification is a literary conceit, simply used for poetical or other effect, while pathetic fallcy refers to the practice of speaking or acting as if nature or whatever does actually have human traits.

When Tennyson said, "Tho' Nature, red in tooth and claw With ravine, shriek'd against his creed", he was using personification -- presumably he didn't think that there was a being called Nature which could shriek.

On the other hand, if you say in a discussion about the environment that you cannot accept such and such a view because nature is cruel, that would be an example of pathetic fallacy because nature is not a physical being able to take pleasure in making other beings suffer.

I must admit I fail to see how the quotations supplied fit in with this.

Bingley


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#91237 01/08/03 07:00 AM
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From the essay where Rusking originally coined the term (http://www.ourcivilisation.com/smartboard/shop/ruskinj/), it would seem Ruskin meant for the term to be used in a different way, to mean the projection of our feelings onto the world around us:

Thus, for instance, in Alton Locke-

They rowed her in across the rolling foam-
The cruel, crawling foam.

The foam is not cruel, neither does it crawl. The state of mind which attributes to it these characters of a living creature is one in which the reason is unhinged by grief. All violent feelings have the same effect. They produce in us a falseness in all our impressions of external things, which I would generally characterize as the 'Pathetic Fallacy'.


Bingley


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#91238 01/08/03 10:33 AM
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so pathetic fallacy is more about us, than it is the natural object? we're the ones being pathetic.



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#91239 01/08/03 12:47 PM
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Yep, Juan, I learned the term at school. And then there's anthropomorphism.

I think we've been through this before, but I can't remember the conclusions we decided on, if any.


#91240 01/08/03 12:54 PM
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#91241 01/08/03 01:39 PM
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To exclude metaphors of human charateristics from poetry would deal it a fatal blow.
(And I don't apologise for using a "pathetic fallacy" in that sentence. I had an English
sinstructor who spent a whole hour warning us not to attribute human mental
processes to animals. He limited "pathetic fallacy" to that.
My idea of pathetic fallacy applies to religion, when we speak of God as some sort
of superhuman. We have no more capability of understanding God than my dog
(if I still had one) would understand what I do with my computer.

I read the Ruskin essay, and i think it is a bunch of crap. His syspepsia had axxumed
control of his thinking.
http://www.ourcivilisation.com/smartboard/shop/ruskinj/

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The plot thickens!

>Date: Wed Nov 22 00:01:12 EST 2000
Subject: A.Word.A.Day--prosopopoeia
X-Bonus: This grand show is eternal. It is always sunrise somewhere: the dew is never all dried at once: a shower is forever falling, vapor is ever rising. Eternal sunrise, eternal sunset, eternal dawn and gloaming, on sea and continents and islands, each in its turn, as the round earth rolls. -John Muir, naturalist, explorer, and writer (1838-1914)

prosopopeia also prosopopoeia (pruh-so-puh-PEE-uh) noun

1. A figure of speech in which an absent or imaginary person is
represented as speaking.

2. A figure of speech in which inanimate objects or abstractions are
endowed with human qualities or are represented as possessing human
form. Personification.

[Latin prosopopoeia, from Greek prosopopoiia : prosopon, face, mask,
dramatic character : pros-, pros- + opon, face (from ops, eye) + poiein,
to make.]

"This is not theft, but kidnapping, summoning, prosopopoeia. In Eliot's
earlier poem we still have one foot in another poet's hell. Here, Dante
is summoned to the City of London, his lines marauded, his inferno woven
within another of Eliot's own making."
Joseph Dinunzio, Inventions of the March Hare: Poems 1909-1917,
The Review of English Studies, Aug 1998.

This week's theme: words from the world of literature.<





#91243 01/08/03 03:36 PM
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Hi y'all - been away for a while, but I knew today's word would spark some discussion, and I wanted to be here for it.

This is what we said before, when you all helped me get this idea more clearly, as I had mis-got it before:

http://makeashorterlink.com/?F2E714203

Happy new year and all that.


#91244 01/08/03 03:41 PM
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Hi Hyla! Good to see ya! And all the Happys to you, too!

Here's the thread discussing prosopopoeia started by belMarduk:

http://wordsmith.org/board/showflat.pl?Cat=&Board=words&Number=8969


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