Posts Tagged ‘oration


Lanham’s Electronic Word

Richard Lanham
The Electronic Word: Democracy, Technology, and the Arts
Area: Digital Media

•    The demand for the PC medium preceded the medium itself
•    Literacy will not be lost, but literacy of print will offer electronic means new ways to read and write (Bolter)
•    The electronic word incarnates the distinction between literate and oral cultures
•    Print = philosophic medium
•    Electronic screen = rhetorical medium
•    What does this medium do to us and for us?
Chapter 1: The Electronic Word: Literary Study and the Digital Revolution
•    Electronic typography is both creator-controlled and user controlled
•    I can literally color the color of my rhetoric
•    The boundary between creator and critic vanishes
•    Electronic texts and availability (both means and in a capitalistic sense)
o    No money left over for other texts, but electronic texts will change this
•    The ethics of quotation will be questioned with electronic media
7: “The pixeled word, in fact, seems to sharpen both horns of our current Con- and Deconstructive dilemma.  An ever-varying chameleon text forever eludes definitive explanation, as the Decons would have it, but it also invites rearrangements that would allow the Cons to have their way with it.”
14: “What will emerge finally is a new rhetoric of the arts, an unblushing and unfiltered attempt to plot all the ranges of formal expressivity now possible, however realized and created by whom (or what) ever.  This rhetoric will make no invidious distinctions between high and low culture, commercial and pure usage, talented or chance creation, visual or auditory stimulus, iconic or alphabetic information.  And rather than outlaw self-consciousness, it will plot the degree of it in an artistic occasion.
18: “Who will ‘own’ an interactive novel after it has been repeated and interacted with?”
Chapter 2: Digital Rhetoric and the Digital Arts
•    Typography becomes allegorical, a writer controlled expressive parameter
o    The electronic screen fulfills an already existing expressive agenda rather than prophesying a new one
•    The iconographic computer desktop was modeled after the Greek memory system (Nicholas Negroponte)
•    Classical rhetoric was built on a single dominant exercise: modeling
o    Oration, rehearsed over and over in every possible form and content
o    Today we model everything digitally, and usually visually, before we built it, manufacture it, or embrace it as policy or sales program
35: Burke: Flowerishes—“to ‘orient’ ourselves to this self-conscious form of proverbial wisdom, we must, like an illiterate pretending to read, turn the book round and round in an effort to make sense of it.”
37: “This textual painting does exactly what the computer screen does: it makes text into a painting, frames it in a new way, asks for a new act of attention—and smiles at the seriousness that text calls forth from us.”
40: “Perhaps the most widely debated, though far from the most important, issue involving electronic text is whether writing on a computer creates verbal flatulence or not. Certainly it restores to centrality another element of classical rhetoric, the use of topics, of preformed arguments, phrases, discrete chunks of verbal boilerplate, which can be electronically cut, pasted, and repeated at will.  Classical rhetoric argued that repetition, without intrinsically changing the object repeated, changes it absolutely, and modern philosophers like Andy Warhol have dwelt upon this theme, replicating everything from Brillo boxes and soup cans to rich and famous faces.”


Loraux’s The Invention of Athens

Nicole Loraux, The Invention of Athens: The Funeral Oration in the Classical City
Area: History of Rhetoric and Memory Studies
Intro: A Very Athenian Invention
•    Funeral oration=genre; epitaphios=examples of the genre
Chapter Two: The Address to the Dead and Its Destination
•    The nature of the ceremony implies that the city recognizes the existence of “the others”
o    Takes cognizance of the casualties it has inflicted on the enemy
•    An ally was merely a subject—all conflicts were resolved in admiration
•    A speech without a reply, intended to arouse in its listeners both submission and respect
•    If you want to praise a city, you must compare it with a worthy rival
•    Pericles: memory “is to be attached more to the decision that to the act of the dead”
•    There is not life but that of the city
•    By exalting the city’s present, he would ensure its future
Critical moments from the text
•    36: “From this perspective, the funeral oration begins to look like an every-absent model, a ghost-oration that, with one exception, we will know only through more or less accurate copies: a historian and a philosopher were pleased to compose an exemplary epitaphios, a way of proposing a theory of the funeral oration; a Sophist and a rhetor used the official oration in order to write a fictitious logos; within the corpus, then, the “false” follows hard upon the “true,” and one begins to regret that authentic epitaphioi should have remained unknown because national eloquence resisted for so long the seductions of writing.”
•    119-20: “But there is a considerable difference between a speech delivered before a battle by way of encouragement and a eulogy of the dead, even if it includes an exhortation to the living.  In the first case, the words are delivered immediately before an action, and thus are aimed at an immediate effect; in the other, they take place after the action, and any effect they are to have must be long-term, in the lifetime of the city itself.”
•    121: “If each oration is intended to be efficacious here and now, the desired effect is not necessarily always the same or always obtainable.  And it the funeral oration has several different aims, trying to win support for a particular strategy or being content to confirm accepted values, it is because it is rooted both in the evolution of the city and in its own, at first sight paradoxical, destiny.”
•    129: “And the verb sunkatopkizein, with which the passage closes, farm from indicating a colonizing act, assumes a figurative sense by virtue of the direct object attributed to it: what the Athenians are founding are “commemorative monuments” of good and evil things.  Now, the orator has just declared that the true monument is a trace in men’s memories and not a material building; so we must regard these mnemeia, which refer to no tangible realization of Athenian imperialism, as memories of fine victories or noble defeats, as signs of arête.”
•    140: “We can compare Isocrates’s text with Pericles’s epitaphios, bit in addition to the resemblances we must stress the profound differences in inspiration between the two speeches whereas Pericles praises the demokratia, Isocrates exalts the ancient politeia established by the original Athenians; and far from offering the democratic system as a universal model, he attributes to Athens the creation of the first constitution, and undifferentiated matrix from which every political form may emerge.”
•    145: “At once a eulogy of worthy men, and honor accorded the dead, and a stock of instructive examples, the funeral oration is, both for Lysias and for Periclaes, a lesson in civic morality intended for the living.  It is a one-dimensional lesson in which the virtue of the citizen is canceled out by the valor of the soldier, in which military activity is offered as a model for civic practice.  This strict ethic is suggestive of the original time of the hoplitic phalanx rather than a reflection of the military organization of Athens in the fifth century, based as it was on the political organization of the city.”
•    148: “In its extremism, the funeral oration foes much further than this: if, as a passage in Hyperides’s epitaphios suggests, one is truly an aner only in death, a fine death has all the characteristics of an initiation—a fearful initiation in which death no longer has anything symbolic about it, in which thanatos is a transition bit also a beginning and end, in which one is born into a new status only be renouncing forever the condition of the living creature.”
•    176: “By exalting the city’s present, he would ensure its future.  It was s risky enterprise, of course, and one that tended toward the loss of any sense of temporality: if one overvalues the future, except to absorb them into an excessively drawn-out present?  We know what happens to the past in the epitaphios.  Where the future is concerned, Pericles’s’ strategy is more subtle: by integrating the future into the present and the unknown into the known, the statesman may have been trying not so much to conquer the eternal as to confirm the present, not so much to transcend time as to dominate it.”


Cicero’s De Oratore (bks 1 & 2)

Cicero De Oratore
Area: History of Rhetoric and Memory Studies
Notes on Cicero’s philosophy
Atticist: Purity of diction and simplicity of syntax; they found in the Greek eloquence of the 10 Attic Orators
Asiatic: epigrammatic terseness or florid emotionalism (Sophists)
•    Amplification: naming the same thing differently two or three times in succession
•    The rhetorician much master the branch of philosophy that deals with human life and conduct
•    Antonius: rhetoric defined as learning to use language agreeable to the ear and arguments suited to convince
•    The orator should feel the emotions he wishes to evoke
•    Socrates and Plato both separated philosophy and rhetoric—Cicero thinks they belong together
Book I
•    Excelling orators are few
•    Good orators require knowledge of very many matters
•    Complete history of the past and a store of precedents must be retained in the memory
•    204: “What too is so indispensable as to have always in your grasp weapons wherewith you can defend yourself or challenge the wicked man, or when provoked take your revenge?”
•    Our greatest advantage over animals is that we hold conversations and reproduce thought in word
•    Good speakers bring a style that’s harmonious, graceful, and marked by a certain artistry and polish
•    Complete and finished orator can speak on any matter with fullness and variety: know the facts of the topic on which one is speaking
•    209: Crassus paraphrasing Socrates: “that every man was eloquent enough upon a subject that he knew has in it some plausibility but no truth: it is nearer to the truth to say that neither can anyone be eloquent upon a subject that is unknown to him, not, if he knows it perfectly and yet does not know how to shape and polish his style, can he speak fluently even upon that which he does know.”
•    Philosophy is divided into three branches: mysteries of nature; subtleties of dialect; human life and conduct
•    Crassus: immense education is necessary
•    Scaevola: such education is almost impossible/limited
•    If art consists of a grasp of full knowledge (≠ some knowledge of a lot of things), then there is not an art of oratory
•    Oratory is an inborn capacity => combo of many skills from other professions
•    Better an orator, the more frightened his is by the difficulty of speaking: shameness
•    Rules of diction: speak in Latin, simple lucidity, with elegance and dignity
•    Memory is trained by learning Latin and foreigners
Book II
•    Show the student who and how to copy
•    3 Points for issue of speech: issue and verdict; recommendation of myself for clients; sway the feelings of the tribunal in the desired direction
•    2 objectives: what to say and how to say it
•    Compassion can be aroused if the audience can apply their own adversities

June 2018
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