Rhetoric CFPs & TOCs

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

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

The place of wrestling and wrestling rhetoric in American political life.

John Heppen and I have been reflecting on elections in which pro wrestlers run as candidates, as we move toward a model for understanding the place of wrestling and wrestling rhetoric in American political life.

So we are reading about Jesse Ventura in "Where Has the Jesse Voter Gone?" by Andrew Grossbach, Rusty Kath, Alicia Spencer, & Danielle Stuard.
Jesse Ventura was not a run of the mill third party candidate. There is little doubt that Ventura’s name recognition as a former wrestler, and also as a movie star, aided his political success. Ventura was an entertainer. Thus he was able to approach the campaign as an entertainer, while Humphrey and Coleman played a traditional game of politics (Frank and Wagner, 1999). Ventura’s celebrity status gave him the needed resources to start a political career later in life. As Canon notes: “celebrity status plays the same function as the base office for a career politician: a resource for gaining higher office and a stake that is not casually risked” (Canon, 1990, p. 89). Jesse Ventura’s high name recognition thus put him on the same political level as seasoned politicians. In a Minnesota Poll of the election season in February 1998, Ventura had a 64% name recognition—the highest of any third party candidate, putting him within the ranks of well-known contenders such as Norm Coleman, Skip Humphrey, and Ted Mondale (Daves, 1999). Thus, we hypothesize Ventura’s status as an entertainer greatly aided his bid for governor.
Other research suggests, however, that third party votes are not simply based on the candidate’s qualities. Rosentsone, Behr, & Lazarus present another possible explanation for choosing to vote for a third party candidate. They assert that voting third party is not due to party identification with a third party, but rather a temporary movement from the major political parties. When citizens feel a sufficient amount of distance between themselves and the major party nominees, they begin to contemplate a third party vote (Rosenstone, Behr, & Lazarus, 127). Wattenberg presents similar findings that the public may find the major parties as obsolete and thus cast their ballot for a third party (Wattenberg, 1993). These findings contrast Reiter & Walsh’s assertion that Ventura’s candidacy was a special circumstance that brought people out to the polls, instead arguing that those who voted for Ventura voted regularly, and in this specific case voted for Ventura as a vote against the major parties.
To what extent, we wonder, is the election of Trump like the election of Ventura, in that their celebrity derives in part from a shared history in wrestling?  To what extent was a vote for Trump also something like the energy Ventura received:
[T]hose who voted for Ventura [...] voted for Ventura as a vote against the major parties.
For more info on this project, email John Heppen at john.heppen@uwrf.edu, or comment below.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

We may yet succeed in changing our culture before it changes us.

"We are frustrated by our culture, whether we participate [rather, have the opportunity to attempt to participate] in elite culture.  The frustration of the elite is due to its growing feeling of isolation...  We cannot 'realise' ourselves in such a situation, unless we become specialists, which means no longer fully human.  Of course, our situation may come to transform us into something no longer human...

"We may yet succeed in changing our culture before it changes us."  -- Vilem Flusser

Our cultural system has become far simpler, and it works incomparably better. Thus, it has become more impoverished

"Our cultural system has become far simpler, and it works incomparably better.  Thus, it has become more impoverished."  -- Vilem Flusser

The Western universal level became thus truly 'universal,' although in a tyrannical sense of the term

"The Western cultural system is the result of the revolution caused by the invention of printing, which disrupted Catholicism's cultural system, with relatively little feedback from other contemporary systems, although of course some Eastern and African elements did penetrate the West.  But the West's discursive dynamism, especially as far as scientific models are concerned, was responsible, in its later stages, for what is called 'Western Imperialism.'  During the nineteenth century, the Western cultural system dominated the Earth and disrupted all other cultural systems, without being itself very much informed by them.  The Western universal level became thus truly 'universal,' although in a tyrannical sense of the term, and at the same time the popular level of Western Civilization became slowly disrupted[...] and degraded into folklore." -- Vilem Flusser

We must become, all of us, 'systems analysts,' rather than trying to become second-rate computers..

"We must become, all of us, 'systems analysts,' rather than trying to become second-rate computers..."

"we must learn structures:  empty, formal disciplines, like logics, mathematics, computer languages; theories like the theory of information, decision-making, and cybernetics.  In sum, we must abandon the model 'what to know,' and shift to the model 'how to know.'" -- Vilem Flusser

[T]here is still hope for those who believe that humans may recognize themselves in others

"If present tendencies continue, we shall all be inserted, very shortly, into a cosmic circus of demagogic broadcast, 'panem et circenses' [...] But there is still hope for those who believe that humans may recognize themselves in others."  -- Vilem Flusser

"Those who pay for technology have no interest to provoke responsible, namely political, answers to the messages that the established power broadcasts

"Those who pay for technology have no interest to provoke responsible, namely political, answers to the messages that the established power broadcasts."  -- Vilem Flusser