Tuesday, September 17, 2013

This post is about rhetoric

          Nice paper, Teach!
          Disclaimer: the following blog post is not about Milton because there wasn't really a prompt...it's more about rhetoric than it is about Milton. Please enjoy anyway. 

          Style is a crucial aspect of rhetoric, but getting "the right style" in your writing doesn't always mean it's your personal style. If I had it my way, I would write in weird disconnected poetry and add dialogue/interactions that didn't actually happen, but that doesn't translate to every reader. "The right style" means a style that matches the audience you're speaking to.

          Style is totally contagious, too. With the section of this essay on analysis and genesis, I mused over the fact that when I finish a book, I almost always find that I write like the author, even if I'm not intending to. I love Palahniuk and Fight Club is my favorite book. One of my favorite "literary devices" he uses is something that, for all intents and purposes, we'll call "the callback." 

          "The callback" is actually a term from comedy. The comedian will make a joke in the beginning, and maybe ten minutes later, they'll seamlessly tie the same joke into another. (Demitri Martin does this a lot (not in this video, it takes some time to set it up, but this is funny nonetheless) The people listening will automatically enjoy it because they understand why it's supposed to be funny as opposed to someone who just walked in a few seconds ago.

          The quote "I am Jack's Inflamed Sense of Rejection" from Fight Club is from when the narrator essentially gets kicked out of his house. This is only funny if the reader knows that when he first moved into the house, he found a bunch of old Reader's Digest magazines that personified human organs so that they could explain how they work/what's wrong with them. (I am Jack's Kidney, I am Jack's Colon.) Callbacks are one of my favorite literary devices and a great use of rhetoric; they make your listeners feel a bit smarter because they're included in an inside joke. 

When used at the right time, in the right place, and to the right people, other literary devices or various forms of rhetoric are definitely a force to be reckoned with.

1 comment:

  1. That is so interesting! Rhetoric, for so many years, has been a grey word - not ever exactly knowing what it meant. As I've come to begin to define its parameters--it has come to mean a big conglomerate of strategy, complexly inter-tangled and connected. How fascinating that you can pull just one aspect out - it could be as simple as a single word - and that is rhetoric in and of itself. Albeit a small part but it has an impact on the audience, nonetheless. And its true, as a reader I feel so "in", a part of the group or cause when I feel included in the inside jokes/humor.