And in the long run, who is to say that stringing sentences together is a better way to describe an experience than vising an image? Where would we be without “trains of thought”, “lines of reasoning”, “grounds for ideas”?
Culture and Rhetorical Patterns: Mining the Rich Relations Between Aristotle’s Enthymeme and Example and India’s Nyaya Method by Keith Lloyd
Our readings for class this week continue to develop, problematize, and thwart my thinking on what is possible as historiographical work. I find myself more and more thinking of revisionist and historical research as ecological by/in design—not as a correction or return down linear past in metanoia, but in an opening, an illuminating to the otherwise shadowed off the path from past to progress. In this opening quote from Keith Lloyd’s article I found resonance and connections explored at length in Luming Mao’s “Thinking beyond Aristotle: The Turn to How in Comparative Rhetoric”. What I appreciated about all of our reading this week, but particularly in these two, was the shift from methodology to method—the how of doing the research and its affordances to how it differently structures knowledge. Mao carefully describes not just what comparative rhetoric is, but how it is done, and as importantly, how it is not done.
Mao describes comparative rhetoric as inherently interdisciplinary, and as “committed to different ways of knowing and speaking and to different forms of inquiry, investigates across time and space communicative practices that frequently originate in noncanonical contexts and are often marginalized, forgotten, or erased altogether” (448). Citing emphasis placed and propagated by Aristotle’s work to define proper and essential subject for the art of rhetoric and on the body of proof for its demonstration, Mao illuminates the emphasis on a perpetual want to claim a set of concepts for rhetoric, despite the competing meanings that have accumulated over time. Mao attributes this emphasis to the need to claim intellectual progress, and as a result, disciplinary legitimacy as study. Instead of fixating of facts if essence, Mao suggests a shift to focus on facts of usage to develop a more informed understanding of the conditions of historicity, specificity, and incongruity. Here, Mao invokes Jenny Edbauer Rice’s rhetorical ecologies as a way of envisioning history that permits and frustrates the available means and models of discourse in the “shifting and moving, grafted onto and connected with other events” and lined “to the in-between en/action of events and encounters”. This new ways of seeing matters of fact can lead to the discovery of new paradigms of knowing. In comparative rhetoric, this look in between two texts is not to see the similarities and differences across them, but to see the effects of text—what has influenced and been influenced. The move is “metadiscplinary” (Haun Saussy); the purpose is not to guarantee uniqueness or coherence, but to represent “the condition of openness to new objects and new forms of inquiry” (453).
I am fascinated by the prospects of breaking the past-progress narrative; in nit blurring the line, but leaving it as form of knowing.