Tropos Kynikos: Jaroslav Hašek's The Good Soldier Švejk

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58   The Deserts of Bohemia

CP? This situation is one that characteristically gives rise to a conversa­tional implicature; and when a conversational implicature is generated in this way, I shall say that a maxim is being exploited. (49-50)

There is, I believe, an important difference between the first two and the last two forms of breaching a maxim in relation to the CP. Whereas viola­tion abrogates the CP in an inconspicuous way, opting out does so in plain view. Clashing and flouting, however, tend to maintain the CP. The inability on the part of the speaker to fulfill one maxim is dictated by his or her steadfast adherence to another. The case of flouting a maxim does not at all entail, from the Gricean perspective, the end of communication but instead provides for its continuation through other means. The mes­sage that a speaker tries to pass on to his or her listener consists not of what the utterance says but of what it implies. Irony is a case in point, Grice argues. If A says of a close associate X, who has just committed a disloyal act, to an audience aware of this fact, "X is a fine friend," listeners will surmise that "A must be trying to get across some other proposition than the one he purports to be putting forward. This must be some obvi­ously related proposition; the most obviously related proposition is the contradictory of the one he purports to be putting forward" (53). And those versed in rhetoric will recognize in A's words the figure of litotes, which expresses the negative through the affirmative and vice versa.

The Gricean model of conversation is implicated in a rationalist and purposive outlook on human behavior in general. He makes this explicit when he writes: "I would like to be able to show that observance of the CP and maxims is reasonable (rational) along the following lines: that anyone who cares about the goals that are central to conversation/communica­tion (e.g., giving and receiving information, influencing and being influ­enced by others) must be expected to have an interest, given suitable cir­cumstances, in participation in talk exchanges that will be profitable only on the assumption that they are conducted in general accordance with the CP and the maxims" (49). The overall picture, however, becomes less transparent if interlocutors enter a speech situation with intentions that are not as constructive or direct as those outlined by Grice. Let us take, for example, the case of irony that Grice analyzes as a prepositional trope, an exploitation of a conversational maxim. Some thinkers have argued con­vincingly that irony is not so much a figure of speech as a specific, radi­cally skeptical attitude toward the world. This is, of course, the point Kierkegaard made in his dissertation on Socrates. But what are the goals central to skeptics' engagements in talk exchanges, and does their dis­course profit from the observance of the CP and conversational maxims?

David Holdcroft's insightful essay "Irony as a Trope, and Irony as a Discourse" (with constant references to Grice) attempts to answer this question. It proceeds from Kierkegaard's assertion about

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