Archive for December, 2009

Epideictic Rhetoric

Posted: December 29, 2009 in Uncategorized
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So I’m trying to get a better understanding of epideictic rhetoric. My adviser holds the opinion that the way Aristotle presents this type of rhetoric basically dooms it to obscurity, that his example is wrong for what this rhetoric really is and what it’s used for.

My job is to prove him wrong. To construct an argument such that Aristotle’s example, the funeral oration, is the perfect example of how epideictic rhetoric is meant to be used.

Trouble is, I think he’s right. But a good rhetorician can argue either side, and make the weaker argument seem stronger, as the sophists would say. (Though I should note that making the weaker argument seem stronger does not mean that it seems like the stronger argument; just that it is stronger than it was. Basically, I take this particular point of contention in rhetorical history as suggesting that good rhetoric gives the opposition the benefit of the doubt. Ed Schiappa writes a lot of great stuff about the fragment of Protagorus this is all based on.)

Anyway, Aristotle. I’m looking here at On Rhetoric, the Kennedy translation,so all quotes will be from there. (more…)

I mentioned this a while ago, but nothing I ever write is ‘rough.’ Not even this post. Even though I’m writing it as I come up with what I want to say, I still won’t call it rough. One way to read what I’m saying is to think that I’m suggesting that everything I write, every sentence I construct, comes out of my brain perfect and without the need for revision. A lot of students think like that. I’m not one of them.

In Amadeus, part of the demonstration of what a genius Mozart was is that his compositions are without editing marks, coming out of his head fully formed and beautiful. We all wish we were geniuses like that. I know I do. But I also know I’m not that smart, not that kind of genius.

But still, nothing I write is ‘rough.’ I hate that term. I think my hatred started in high school, when I had to include a rough draft when handing something in.

It’s not that the idea behind the requirement was bad; the purpose was to teach rewriting, which is a great and important skill. But the language hurts the idea. (more…)