Presentation: “Aural Rhetoric’s Double Bind”
Steve Katz, Mike Utley, A.D. Carson, and I did at panel on music and writing instruction at “Cs” in Tampa. All presentations in the session were themselves aural and performative. My part was a comment on the rewards of recent attentions to the sonic dimension in rhetoric and composition. For all the hype of affective and embodied affordances of sound and music, it’s interesting to note there’s a certain sense in which all scholars go metaphysical in staking claims, configuring propositions, and fortifying stases in effort to establish the sonic as a legitimate and worthwhile modality of composing. And yet, this manufactured intelligibility is only ever the result of rendering propositional our affective response to sonic phenomena; such accounts are themselves only ever aesthetic phenomena. So I argued. It’s important to acknowledge and bear in mind-body this oscillation or “wobbling” among cognitive and affective registers lest we a) don’t drown in a cascade of inauthentic clichés in praise of the affective, and b) retain the material and aesthetic dimensions of our engagements with the metaphysical. As Katz says in The Epistemic Music of Rhetoric, reading and writing—like music—are temporal activities. In this way, it is not only the case that music is rhetorical; rhetoric is also musical.