Rhetoric CFPs & TOCs

Rhetoric CFPs & TOCs
Photo: Kristoffer Trolle (creative commons)

Monday, May 14, 2018

"Some questions about the peculiar problems of communication today"

From "Some questions about the peculiar problems of communication today"

Here I pause to raise a disagreeable question, suggested by the late Igor Stravinsky's unkind definition of linguists as men who know everything about language except how to use it. My own unfortunately limited knowledge of linguistics is due not only to the specialized voca- bulary and techniques one has to master, but the addiction to such jargon as "the emission of linguistic units," which I suppose means speech. Now that we have a growing number of technical specialists in problems of communication, the rude question is: How effectively do they communicate? At conferences they appear to do so well enough with one another, if with some occasional difficulty because of their dif- ferent specialties, but what about the educated general reader? Do they interest him, or reach him at all? I should confess to a possible bias in favor of this general reader, since he has got most of my books into paperback editions and bought a lot of copies, yet I do think that as a type he is a very important fellow. We have to depend on him if there is to be any hope of widely disseminating knowledge and thought that seem important to us, or of improving communication in our society. 


Google offers no citation for the alleged Stravinsky quotation.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

How to Destroy an English Department

from "How to Destroy an English Department" by Donald E. Hall

"Follow this 14-step guide on how to destroy a department...

  • Express scorn for “administrators” generally as sellouts or failures; use that attitude as the basis for your relationship with your dean."

Monday, May 7, 2018

The Dream that is Dying...

From Lewis Mumford, Sticks and Stones:  A Study of American Architecture and Civilization

"The dream that is dying and the dream that is coming to birth do not stand in sequence, but mingle."

Sunday, May 6, 2018

John Berger on mosaic

John Berger on mosaic, from Confabulations.

I want to go 30 kilometers south to the Basilica of Sant’Apollinare in Classe, outside Ravenna, and there I want to show you a basin mosaic in the sixth-century apse. It has the form of a scallop shell, a good ten meters in diameter... 
The basin mosaic shows the earth and sky, with trees, birds, grass, stones, sheep. At the top is the open hand of God no larger than a pebble. In the centre is the head of Christ, no larger than the palm of God’s small hand. The principal colors are greens, white, gold, and a turquoise blue. Its nominal subject is the Transfiguration of Christ on Mount Tabor in Galilee (see chapter 9, St. Mark’s Gospel). But what it does as a mosaic is to transfigure space! Perspective and vanishing points are abolished. Each entity we see—be it a flower, a sheep, a tuft of grass, a pebble—is at the center of the whole; nothing in the scene is marginal. 
The arching mosaic evokes in terms of space something like what eternity may evoke in terms of time. It simultaneously contains and abolishes space. Distance here brings together instead of separating. 
How does it achieve such a transfiguration? The secret is in the way the mosaic’s tesserae play with the light. These tiny cubic pieces of glass, marble, and mineral generate, because of how they are placed together, an extraordinary visual energy. How do they do this? 
The tesserae vary in their different tints of the same colors. No two are quite the same. 
The angle at which they were inserted into the mortar (14 centuries ago) also varies, sector by sector, and this means that the light they reflect is in places bright and in other places opaque—as happens in nature when light is reflected off moving water. And, finally, the lines of the tesserae—the convoys in which they proceed across the curved mosaic—are never straight but always more or less serpentine. They proceed like eels. 
When you look up and watch the whole mosaic, everything you see is motionless and calm and at the same time part of a ceaseless orbital spin! 
This is why each entity—each tree or flower or sheep or stone or prophet—wherever it has been placed and whatever its size—becomes, when you watch it, the center of everything surrounding it.

Final bits from Russell Kirk's Intemperate Professo