The Curtain Call of Rhetoric

by SC


Is Technology indistinguishable from Magic.

Rhetoric is something which is constantly evolving, it evolved under the Humanism movement, it defined itself against the scholastic movement and during the Industrial Revolution it became less and less important as economics opened up trade and communication amongst different nations with different languages. With the spread of the internet, rhetoric has also undergone changes as communication adapts to an increasingly shrinking world.

In my opinion, the internet has allowed unknown individuals to publish their thoughts anonymously meaning that ethos is becoming less and less important and instead there is a larger focus upon the strength of one’s arguments. Likewise powerful influences like situated ethos have been nullified by the internet as the author’s physical appearance and socio-economic status are hidden from sight. I also believe that pathos is harder to effectively implement and aggressive tactics such as intimidation would be poorly received as those rhetorical strategies often require face to face communication or at the very least the use of body language to subtly convey certain emotions and feelings.

I also believe that the main purpose of modern rhetoric is not to ‘persuade’ but rather to simply communicate or pass along a certain message or theme, this is due to the widening audience which can access a speech, article, essay, comment or picture. This means persuasion is harder than ever as the audience will have a wider spectrum of values and beliefs ingrained into them by their culture, thus simple and effective communication seems to be more important than ever as language barriers become more apparent than ever on the internet.

Personally I don’t see this evolution of rhetoric as something which destroys the ‘art’ or ‘soul’ of rhetoric, which is a form of knowledge or practice which has under gone many different transitions and likewise a 16th century rhetorician might of complained about the destructive capabilities of the printing press, something which is integral to modern society.  Instead I think it is necessary that rhetoric evolves along with the world so it does not become an outdated skill left to gather dust upon a bookshelf, void of all relevance.

One Language to Rule Them All.

In today’s tutorial we examined the power imbalance of different cultures in any given society and how there is an unspoken yet widely observed hierarchy within society which determines whether an action, word, gesture or belief is correct or incorrect. This was seen in the story of the Indigenous Australian who had a dream that he meet Elvis Presley and immediately and unfortunately I categorised him as uneducated or dumb because he used Indigenous Australian slang instead of ‘official’ and accepted forms of English. I guess that’s the beauty and flaw of language, the emotional connotations attached to words gives speech an intrinsic emotional underpinning and grounds our communication in authentic feelings. However this also means that unlike scientific discourse, there can be close to no objectivity since certain words will have different meanings depending on one’s context.

The connotations surrounding a word reflects one’s true intentions and labels like men and women carry with it certain values, expectations and stereotypes which society dedicates we follow and these values are grounded into the its citizens through constant repetition. It’s interesting that labels which should be completely objective such as Asian, Lebanese or Australian are also burden with specific associations.

The Knife Edge of Acceptance.

Whilst my discussion posts have generally incorporated my perspective and opinions, I have yet to create a post dedicated solely to myself and my experiences, but for week twelve, I think this is appropriate as next week will be my presentation, something I am definitely looking forward to! I plan to speak about male rights and how feminist discourse has meant that sexism against men is now seen as appropriate or acceptable. (I support feminism and I believe it’s done some wonder things to balance up the genders; however the fact I don’t feel comfortable publishing this thread without defining my position highlights how it has influenced social discourse)

A big part of the challenge will be ensuring that I have a positive ethos as advocates of male rights are generally pierced to be women haters and sexists with outdated views, if I am not about to present my speech without respect, restraint and class then my message will neglected and dismissed. It’s important that I assure the audience that don’t support the restrictive and sexist gender roles and I plan to predict and answer a lot of their concerns within my speech. I also want to word my speech so I can subtly pull the audience ‘over to my side’ and this is done by presenting myself as a moderate armed with sophisticated and relevant statistics and arguments to forward my point.

My main aim in my speech is to change society’s perceptions that men can’t be discriminated against which is as ridiculous as saying “white people can’t be discriminated against because most first world countries are white nations!” I want to start my speech off with something along the lines of… “Men are the leaders of society…” followed by “Women are the leaders of society” and if the audience reacts like I expect them to, then I will point to the hypocrisy in their reactions.

I’m definitely going to forgo intimidation and hopefully through a combination of statistics, good will, ingratiation and moderate language I will be able to present my topic without the label of misogynist slapped onto me.

“Master has given Dobby a sock! Dobby is free!”

I’m glad that a course which was built around the concept of rhetoric did not neglect a speaking component, on a more personal level, these past week threes of presentations have been some of the most enjoyable tutorials I have ever been a part of, so kudos to the ENGL2652 tutors and teachers for assembling this syllabus.

I attended two different tutorials during the final stretch of tutorials and something I noticed within both classes was that every presentation except two was quite serious and focused on a topic which was legitimately a serious issue within society. This was the same for people’s ethnos, as most people tried to be well mannered, polite and respectable with only one speaker trying to use intimidation. I was originally considering doing a satirical and sarcastic piece on why Australia should implement the White Australia Policy or why homosexuality should be out lawed, I eventually decided to speak about discrimination against men, but it would of been interesting to see how a more ’emotional’ or ‘less standardised presentation’ would of functioned.

I also noticed that most of the topics were well suited towards the audience of young teenagers with a generally more liberal mindset, maybe it was to demonstrate good will or maybe the speakers were passionate about those certain topics, but a few I recall include banning Christmas, banning plastic water bottles and the dangers of consumerism.

It was my belief that logos seemed to be generally the most effective form of persuasion during these five minute presentations, not to discredit ethnos or pathos, but those aspects take time to build. Whilst a strong and well-timed statistic or fact only ‘required’ a short amount of time to present, meaning the speaker would of time leftover to expand upon their presentations.