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ERIC Number: ED318067
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1990-Mar
Pages: 13
Abstractor: N/A
Reference Count: N/A
Native American Rhetoric and the Pre-Socratic Ideal of "Physis."
Miller, Bernard A.
"House Made of Dawn" by N. Scott Momaday is about language and the sacredness of the word and about what can be understood as a peculiarly Native American theory of rhetoric. All things are hinged to the physical landscape, nature, and the implications nature bears upon language. In Momaday's book, language does not represent external reality but is given precedence, such that there is no external reality except in terms of a primordial spirituality that embraces the individual's oneness with nature. Momaday tells readers about an idea lost to post-Socratic rhetorical theory, that of "physis," as being one with "nomos," where nature is an entity or activity that constitutes the "creative surge" of Being, and language, ever as much as nature, is an indigenous field where people dwell and discover the source of their being. Running through a sermon made by one character is the idea that truth lies in language. Truth is verbal, and to say there is something behind or beyond language that it symbolizes is to burden and obscure the truth. The focus is on words as a source of creation. Momaday defines racial memory as the commitment of a community of believers to a perfect integration of an individual's mind and spirit with that of his people, most concretely manifest in the rituals, legends, and beliefs of the oral tradition. Through this perspective, community is established and preserved through story and song, creating by means of language the cultural landscape through which being is acknowledged and identity is achieved. (MG)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers; Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A