Hawk – “Linguistic Herpes”

[George] Kennedy characterizes “Vitanzan Vitalism” as a type of “linguistic herpes” that comes and goes, “the historical tendency of rhetoric to slip from oral, civic, and rational discourse into written, poetic, composition with an emphasis on style” that privileges “expression over analysis” (“Some Reflections” 231)…

That emotional fallacies such as associating someone with herpes come from deep-seated assumptions is perhaps not that surprising.

(Hawk, Introduction)


I was thinking about this quote for a few minutes before I caught myself.  Immediately, I realized I had to write this out to get my thoughts down.  In the above quote, George Kennedy is equating Vitalism, as discussed by Vitanza, as linguistic herpes.

Hawk, however, takes this quote a bit incorrectly.  He says that Kennedy’s quote associates people with herpes.  I struggled with this because Kennedy is saying the idea behind Vitanzan Vitalism is herpes.

But then, my brain made the leap into asking the question: Is an idea a part of someone’s identity?  As of right now, I would say that an idea is part of identity.  However, that might change.  But, as it stands, if an idea is part of someone’s identity, then an idea could, for example, be Vitanzan Vitalism.  The same Vitanzan Vitalism that Kennedy equates to herpes.

So, after a little bit of tossing back and forth, I decided that Hawk did not take it too far.  He equated the idea of Vitanzan Vitalism as a part of someone’s identity and correctly claimed that Kennedy associated people who believe in this idea with herpes.

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