Peevish Weariness, <i>aposiopesis</i>, and the Irresolute Conscience

Ceri Sullivan

in The Rhetoric of the Conscience in Donne, Herbert, and Vaughan

Published in print September 2008 | ISBN: 9780199547845
Published online September 2008 | e-ISBN: 9780191720901 | DOI:
Peevish Weariness, aposiopesis, and the Irresolute Conscience

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This chapter studies the frequent use of images of dust or fragments as an attack on the foundation of judicious dialogue, mutual engagement. An effective response to enforced attention is flabby uninterest. Poems break up those selves which should be focused on God. Both the image of distraction and its rhetorical formulation, aposiopesis (breaking off of speech), demonstrate that being lectured at results in a conscience which turns a deaf ear. This is neither acedia (torpor in devotion) nor melancholy, but boredom at an all-too-present divine. Although the fallen conscience acknowledges it goes to bits if not pulled together by God, it is irritated at the requirement to attend to him — even despite the numerous professional aids to listening the period boasts. Accordingly, a very aetiolated desire to hear God's words comes out repeatedly in a fretful comedy of weariness.

Keywords: boredom; acedia; melancholy; dust; deaf; listening; fragments

Chapter.  14474 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)

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