Living Rhetorically in the Real World

November 10, 2009

In the Media: Location influences meaning

Pyramid of Giza:

pyramid of giza

Pyramid at Cahokia:

pyramid at cahokia

Kenneth Burke says that we see the world through terminological screens and that every act of selection is an act of reflection but also an act of deflection. When we focus on the beauty, size, and brilliance of the Great Pyramid of Giza, we neglect to look at other works of art: such as the Pyramid at Cahokia, which was “the largest structure ever built in the United States until the late twentieth century” (Glavin 134). Supposedly, this pyramid is even bigger than the Pyramid of Giza. Yet until yesterday I had never heard any mention of it.

What have we chosen the Great Pyramid of Giza to represent our idea of what constitutes “pyramid”?

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  1. Way to be up and up on your Native American architectural achievements.

    I think your answer is pretty obvious when you look at it. The second one largely looks like a hill in a field, with a staircase. Sure, it’s in a relatively flat area, but it doesn’t stand out with the same glory as the Gaza pyramids, or even those of Mexico. It’s the same reason why they don’t show the Valley of the Kings too much… pyramids were heavily raided, so it was better to hide stuff under ground. Aside from the temple at the side, the Valley of the Kings is just that… a valley of sand.

    We’re amazed by these things because they show off. Pyramids are something very possible with stone construction… you need more advanced techniques, namely steel, to construct really big but thin like we do today with skyscrapers. Pyramids are basically a necessity if you wanna go big, and show off… at least on flat ground. Make something big, have it last for centuries, have everybody forget a lot about it so it’s mysterious, and bam… you’ve got interest. It’s gotta be photogenic, though. Mystery novels don’t do so well with pictures of hills and staircases on their covers… it doesn’t so instantly capture the imagination.

    Comment by Richard — November 11, 2009 @ 2:50 pm | Reply

  2. It is more representative of the shape, and therefore approaches the form of the pyramid, to get all Platonic.

    Comment by westwood — November 12, 2009 @ 2:08 pm | Reply

  3. Where is the biggest pyramid in the world?

    Comment by MANDLA SHEMEY NDLOVU — April 26, 2010 @ 4:11 pm | Reply

  4. And there is plenty new to say about all pyramidal structures… stay tuned.

    Comment by D. A. Capaldi — June 4, 2010 @ 8:00 pm | Reply

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