Enculturation: David Metzger

David Metzger
Old Dominion University

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The Call for Rhetoric


The first four questions of Coleman and Goodman's original call for papers capture a feeling. First, there is a sense of loss (Where's the Rhetoric?), then the demand for an explanation of that loss (Was the "rhetorical turn" in composition just a phase?). The demand for an explanation then anticipates a particular response: "Did rhetoric serve merely as an historical grounding for establishing the new discipline of Composition Studies?" And the "we" of "Are we 'over' rhetoric?" wonders how the loss of rhetoric has affected/effected some of "us." How do we feel about it? Anger? Hope? Regret? Delight? It is difficult to say, and I would like to suggest that the difficulty in identifying the feeling captured in this "call" exemplifies an important characteristic of feelings: they are difficult to identify and/or distinguish one from the other. Then, how can we account for the fact that people often say "I am angry/hopeful/regretful/delighted," and that it may not be so difficult, for some, to identify the feeling captured by this call? It may be helpful to make a distinction between feelings (which are difficult to identify or distinguish one from the other) and emotions (which we experience as such precisely because we are able to identify and distinguish them). The fact that this distinction is rarely, if ever, made when we say something like "I am angry/hopeful/regretful/delighted" may suggest a further complication: feelings are so difficult to identify/distinguish we tend to think of them as emotions. In fact, feelings may come to mind, they may appear as objects of self reflection, only as emotions.

This is not to say that the need to make a distinction between emotional states and "some other kind of affect" has not been noticed elsewhere. Martha Nussbaum's Upheavals of Thought: The Intelligence of Emotions might serve as another starting point for those interested in the elaboration of this distinction between feelings and emotions. While Nussbaum is more interested in distinguishing among emotional states than I am, her distinction between conscious and unconscious emotions might be another way of addressing the distinction between feelings and emotions that I'm suggesting here (71). There is also a very difficult sentence in Book II of Aristotle's Rhetoric (1379a) that posits both "emotions/passions" and "underlying passions/emotions": proodopoieitai gar hekastos pros tein hekastou orgein hupo tou huparchontos pathous. Freese translates this as "for the passion present in his mind in each case paves the way for his anger" (179). Kennedy, following Grimaldi's discussion of the passage in Aristotle: A Commentary, translates it as "for each [person] has prepared a path for his own anger because of some underlying emotion" (127). What I'm trying to identify as "feelings" may also be related to Aristotle's notion of an "underlying emotion," but I am not certain that what "underlies" an emotion is simply another emotion. What both Nussbaum and Aristotle share is a sense that, with some effort, emotions can be distinguished one from the other; they also share the suspicion that there is something about emotions that slips out of our noose of categorization. There is something (I call them/it "feelings") that resists being distinguished.

Susan Jarratt's "Rhetoric in Crisis?: The View from Here" allows us to see another possible distinction between feelings and emotions: emotions tell us and others what to do; feelings do not. While Jarratt demonstrates, at least initially, some sympathy for the editor's call, she is also concerned that it might become "a generalized proclamation of `crisis' . . . likely to lead to unproductive breast-beating." But note the negation (the UN of unproductive): Jarratt's concern is not that the "call" may be just any kind of breast-beating (which isn't necessarily unproductive and, hence, a bad thing); the "call" might lead to the unproductive kind of breast-beating (which is, presumably, not a good thing). What is being marginalized here? Not the feeling as such but the unproductivity of some feelings. My concern is not that "unproductivity" has been shown the door; rather, by assuming that "unproductivity is bad," we may have scripted an under-theorized distinction between feelings and emotions as the difference between good (aka "productive") emotions/feelings and bad (aka "unproductive") emotions/feelings. And what is that difference, again? Simply put, feelings are "unproductive"; emotions are "productive."

To tease out this distinction a little more, we will need to know what productivity and unproductivity might mean. My assumption is that productivity is "doing something" and unproductivity is not. So, the conflation of emotions and feelings is not merely a result of the fact that emotions are more easily distinguishable, more readily objects of thought than feelings are (as I've suggested above); the conflation of emotions and feelings also results from a desire to know what to do and how to react to a particular situation. If a colleague sends us an email that prompts us to feel slighted in some way, how nice it is when we decide to be angry. Our emotional state authorizes a particular response on our part. It also provides us with a platform from which we can prompt the actions of others. That is, once we have an emotion, we can invite others to share it with us. We can even use an emotion to prompt others to a course of action. Revenge, as Aristotle pointed out, is the pleasurable counterpart to anger; all one needs to do is associate a proposed action with revenge, and the angry will know what to do.

Now, what is so appealing about knowing what to do? And why do we so often connect ethics with the variety of answers to a single question, "How are we to proceed?" Believe or not? These two questions are connected, not only to each other but to the distinction between feelings and emotions that I have been trying to elaborate as well. I suspect that knowing what to do is appealing precisely because it limits our responsibility to the other. When we react to someone's call, someone's demand, there is always the chance that the required response is beyond our abilities or beyond the abilities of anyone or anything else we know. So, we respond to people as we can or as we are authorized to, and we call ourselves (and we are called) by a variety of different names just so everyone understands that our responsibilities are finite. For example, if we feel that someone has asked of us something that we can't or aren't authorized to do, we might wonder, "Am I a baby sitter?" "Am I a saint?" The Trekkies among us might even exclaim: "Damn it, Jim. I'm not a bricklayer." Earlier, I had suggested that the appeal of emotions (over feelings) might be linked to the "appeal of knowing what to do." But, when we consider what the "appeal of knowing what to do" might be, the distinction between feelings and emotions becomes even more interesting. Emotions, inasmuch as they preserve knowledge of what to do, might be linked to the limiting of our responsibility to the other. Feelings, inasmuch as they do not preserve such knowledge, might be linked to our sense/feeling that we have an infinite responsibility to the other.[1]

No doubt, the abstract nature of these last two statements may be frustrating to some, especially since I have suggested that they may be very important for those of us interested in the relationship between rhetoric and ethics. As a way of illustrating and developing the distinction between feelings and emotions that I've discussed so far, I will follow Victor Vitanza's lead and offer a reading of Herman Melville's "Bartleby the Scrivener." As a way of showing how this distinction operates as a tool for scripting responsibility in the field of rhet/comp, I will offer a reading of selected responses to the "call for rhetoric" made by Lisa Coleman and Lorien Goodman.

Bartleby the Scrivener

Rather than focusing on the figure of "Bartleby," my reading will focus on the narrator who understands what he and others are obliged to do by way of their legal/professional responsibilities; the narrator's problem is that he just can't figure out what to do with Bartleby's "I prefer not to." Learning how to respond to Bartleby would, indeed, be frustrating. It seems that Bartleby prefers not to check copy, not to run errands, not to write . . . not to leave . . . not to eat . . . . But even after the narrator embraces his inner Writing Program Director, he discovers that he cannot fire Bartleby who has long ceased to perform those duties, scripted in the Golden Book of Scrivening, duties in whose name the narrator might rationalize any feeling of obligation to Bartleby. The Golden Book/the law/the institution has failed to limit the narrator's responsibility, so he seeks an explanation for the persistence of his feelings about Bartleby (his sense that he continues to be responsible for Bartleby). The narrator himself relates that Bartleby has caused him to feel something for the very first time: "a feeling of overpowering stinging melancholy. Before, I had never experienced aught but a not-unpleasing sadness. The bond of a common humanity now drew me irresistibly to gloom. A fraternal melancholy" (2121). The narrator and Bartleby are both "sons of Adam," except that the narrator has had all of the advantages of such a genealogy and Bartleby has not. "There's the explanation!" the narrator thinks. Bartleby and the narrator are different (one who has had all of the advantages, another who has not). Knowing more about the differences (have/have nots) that exist in the same ("sons of Adam"), knowing more about Bartleby (what is "hidden" in his desk, a desk that Bartleby makes use of only because of his patient employer), that is where the narrator thinks he will find the limit to his obligations (2121). The human (understood as either the "difference in the same" or Foucault's "norm") has replaced the Law. What a relief!

Powered by the difference in the same, the narrator's melancholy is transformed into "fear and revulsion," and he can fire Bartleby because Bartleby, when push comes to shove, is just impossible: "When at last it is perceived that such pity cannot lead to effectual succor, common sense bids the soul be rid of it. What I saw that morning [in Bartleby's desk] persuaded me that the scrivener was the victim of an innate and incurable disorder. I might give alms to his body, but his body did not pain him; it was his soul that suffered, and his soul I could not teach" (2122).

I see here a basic formula for the translation of feeling (which does not empower any response) into emotion (which does). And I see how "common sense," "difference," even the very idea of a soul, might be used to purge ourselves of obligation. Even so, as Melville's version of the story goes, the narrator can't fire Bartleby because Bartleby won't leave. In the end, the narrator doesn't even have the satisfaction of imagining there's justice in Bartleby's death because Bartleby doesn't die; at least, the narrator doesn't know how to speak about Bartleby's death. Bartleby, we are told, is one who "lives without dining" (2136). Granted, the narrator is only echoing what he heard the prison's grub-man, Mr. Cutlets, say about Bartleby: "His dinner is ready. Won't he dine to-day, either? Or does he live without dining?" (2136). But the Kenneth Burke of The Philosophy of Literary Form would, no doubt, ask us to hear the "die" in "dining," which is another part of this story. I actually misquoted Bartleby's narrator earlier: "`Lives without dining,' said I [the narrator], and closed the eyes." Whose eyes? Bartleby's and the narrator's (an "and" that isn't supported by a "neither" [neither the narrator nor Bartleby are responsible]). While the dead may feel nothing, the feeling of death persists among the living.

Perhaps the narrator's discussion of Bartleby is just unproductive breast-beating. But the narrator's feelings account for some of what haunts this special issue of Enculturation and rhetoric-slash-composition: the marginalization of feeling, the synecdoches of self, and the genealogies. I say "haunts" because I'm talking about something for which neither the individuals behind/in the articles nor the individual articles (their methods, theses, and such) could be held responsible. By this, I mean that the "marginalization of feeling," "the synecdoches of self," and "the genealogies" discussed below are traces of our "infinite responsibility to the Other," traces of a feeling that we haven't done enough, if anything, even after our family, our friends, our colleagues, and our job descriptions (the law) have assured us that our "sense of responsibility" must be satisfied because we've done all that we can (our ability).

Marginalization of Feeling

If I'm right that feelings are uncomfortable precisely because, unlike emotions, they do not promote and rationalize a particular (non)response, then this translation of feeling into emotion is necessary for us to respond to the editors' call. Susan Jarratt's "Rhetoric in Crisis?: The View from Here" marks this moment as best as anyone can:

On reflection, I've discovered that my initial response may come from an urge toward professional self protection: a need to convince myself that things really are fine, rhetorically speaking. Whether or not rhetoric is in crisis, there is certainly value in reflecting on its status. . . .

Her comment writes a feeling (of crisis) into the economy of "reflection" where Jarratt can take responsibility for it, giving some of us a well-deserved out, by both marginalizing and centralizing this "feeling" as a need to convince herself. Yet, as feelings are wont, the "feeling" remains, but it is translated into "hope" over the course of the essay. Jarratt's comment also underscores the relation between feeling and (self)reflection. Reminiscent of Heidegger's treatment of die Stimmung, das Gestimmtsein (our mood, our Being-attuned), she associates feeling ("hope" in this case) with a "sense": a sense that we have been thrown somewhere, and we need to get our bearings (Being and Time 172). There is also here a "sense" that feeling promises something: there is a self (of reflection) that will exist, not as a response to being thrown, but by being in the future. Hope, then, may be more of a feeling than an emotion. But if this is true, if there is hope, why do we need to react? Because when we speak of the present or the past, it is possible that we are attempting to construct a future time/space when and where we can react. Because when we speak of the future, it is possible that we are attempting to construct a present time/space when and where our lack of a response might not be scripted as a response. We are accustomed to hearing the hope of reform used to promote the actions and inactions of the current moment (Burke called it the hirsutus-diaperus effect). But in terms of the discussion of emotions and feelings, we might see here as well how we use the promise of future "being" (Que Sera Sera: a being for which we cannot be held responsible) to disassociate feelings from our responsibility to the other. When will we feel? Answer: Not now, but when we are no longer responsible. An example would no doubt be helpful at this point, but I can't think of a realization of this theoretical possibility that is not already framed as something negative, for example, the joy of impunity in Plato's story of Giges' ring. We more commonly find positively-charged examples of this evacuation of feeling when it is accompanied by a moral agent's saturation in the field of responsibility: the biblical account of the binding of Isaac.

If the choice is really between Giges or Abraham/Isaac, then Jarratt's "reflective self" seems like a reasonable alternative to that choice. The reflective self changes the playing field delineated by Giges and Abraham/Isaac by suggesting that the "value" of her discussion is not to be measured in terms of feeling and responsibility but in terms of what we might learn from our experiences. Jarratt (I mean the narrator, the "ethical perspective" of her essay) creates a place where we are responsible to/for our knowledge. This doesn't sound like such a bad thing. However, Jarratt's position may end up rescripting the Bartleby narrative inasmuch as the "reflective self" follows the other unto death and even beyond. On the other, it has limited its responsibility to a single action: Know!

Synecdoches of Self

Victor Vitanza's "Abandoned to Writing: Notes Toward Several Provocations" is, in part, a parody of Jarratt's ethical perspective, particularly the way the reflective self limits its responsibility to the field of knowledge:

Once you have finished this assessment, please email your evaluations to the Co- Editors Lisa Coleman and Lorien Goodman to let them know whether or not you think Vitanza should be blackballed from the discipline of rhetoric and/or composition.

Vitanza shows us the ruse of the reflective self; how its knowledge (its evaluation, its assessment) relies on a synecdoche of self to render its knowledge/assessment as an action. What is the synecdoche here? Vitanza. The reflective self needs Victor Vitanza, the Victor Vitanza of this article, in order to know that its knowledge of him is a response (if not to him then to what he represents for some "us"). The reflective self takes a synecdoche (Vitanza as X; I as X or ~X) and renders it as knowledge (the answers to the assessment questions). The reflective self loves him; it really loves him, so that it can rationalize this action/assessment. It hates him; it really hates him, so it can rationalize another. Or, it closes its eyes to him; it doesn't even notice the loss of the UT-Arlington float in the rhet/comp parade:

Left out of the discourses that you will read here is the one at the University of Texas at Arlington (now, for all purposes, defunct), in which such luminaries as Michael Feehan, Luanne T. Frank, Hans Kellner, Charles Kneupper, Lenore Langsdorf, C. Jan Swearingen, and Victor J. Vitanza taught during the 80s and 90s, the program from which Lorie and I received Humanities PhD's. In this challenging course of study, the foundations of rhetoric and philosophy and the history of rhetoric were both given and taken away. Like the students in the UCSD program that Holzman describes, graduate students at UTA began bringing what they were learning about Heidegger, Hegel, Neitzsche, Freud, and Lacan; Derrida, Foucault, and Lyotard; Virginia Woolf, Walter Ong, Hannah Arendt, and Simone de Beauvoir into the classroom, into their dissertations, and beyond. The questions raised in our initial CFP for this special edition of Enculturation, and the interdisciplinary impetus of our thoughts about rhetoric and composition, testify to this program and to the scholar-teachers who prepared us to ask hard questions and to take the bottomless leap that is the postmodern turn. (Coleman and Goodman, Editor's Introduction)

Of course, who ever said that Vitanza was one of us (none of the initial responders to the CFP makes mention of it)? Is the nonresponse of the "initial responders" a response? The answer to this question depends on which of the responders we are talking about. For me, both Victor and Arlington are synecdoches. When I was in graduate school, I read the Pre/Text devoted to Ricoeur, and I thought, "This rhet/comp is where it's at; I would like to do that." At Old Dominion University, where I teach, we managed to hire two graduates from the UT-Arlington program who talked about studying with Luanne Frank, Hans Kellner, Victor Vitanza, and others. (They've since moved on to "preener grasstures"). So, for me, Arlington (the curriculum, the cooperative efforts of many, its vision for the "field") is also a synecdoche. A synecdoche for what? . . . For a "we" that might include me. And I can render this we (this agent of self reflection/protection) and its complex of feelings into a single emotion: we (those of us in the know) hate what's happened AND we want to do "anything" about it; we hate what's happened AND it goes against the laws of the profession (good teaching + reads everything + good placement + works like a dog + good students + good research = professional success). But the synecdoche and the reactions it prompts are not the whole story; they are the story of my "ethical" perspective. And I know that there are people who have feelings regarding the "Arlington event" who would be uncomfortable with the "we" that I've rendered as knowledge.

Vitanza's "The Assessment-Test-Event" and its question (Should Vitanza be black-balled?) sit squarely in the place of my synecdoche, giving me a moment to pause before I choose to conclude my understanding with either an emotion, an event, or an epiphany, before constructing a Vitanza that I can love, hate, or ignore in order to support my sense of (in)justice. The question (Should Vitanza be black-balled?) foregrounds the power of normativity (rather than law) by referencing the curious punishment inflicted on those who are not accepted into the club, and it points me to the possibility that, despite my reading of Foucault, I act as if all power were juridical in nature. I'm even ashamed to say that Victor's question also shows me how dependent I've become on how a reflective-I reacts to a situation by scripting that situation as a form of knowledge. After all, Vitanza seems to ask, is the knowledge prompted by this question a knowledge worth having: Vitanza should/should not be black-balled cuz . . . (insert 3 reasons)? The reflective self's ethical perspective, which Victor parodies, might be characterized as an attempt to make the normative power of a given community function as a juridical form of justice (knowledge linked to punishment, albeit a punishment projected into the future).

Earlier, I had said that Vitanza's essay shows us the ruse of the reflective self, and now I see (how nice for me!) what the ruse covers over: in place of being alone with my feelings, the reflective self promises that I am alone with the other of knowledge. Without this knowledge, the reflective self is simply alone. And Victor has somehow managed to script the isolation of this reflective self in such a way that others might see it.

The next discursive gesture that we will consider (genealogies) might be understood as an alternative to Jarratt's subject who is alone with knowledge and Vitanza's who is simply alone. The genealogical move assures us that we are alone with some others (the others who count).

The Genealogies

What do I mean by genealogy? It's easier for me to point to it than define it. For example, we find the following in Kathleen Welch's "Compositionality, Rhetoricity, and Electricity: A Partial History of Some Composition and Rhetoric Studies": "Indeed, Corbett, Lunsford, and Mountford represent a cascade of composition-rhetoric teachers and students who cross three generations." Welch clearly does not use the term "three generations" with its unmediated biblical force.[2] Like Roxanne Mountford, whom she "credits" as its source, Welch is using the genealogy to honor those who are present and those who are not.[3] But it's very difficult to honor someone and not, at least by implication, (not) honor someone else. The justice evoked by the simple statement that "so and so deserves what she/he is getting" often creates a sense of injustice, a sense that things aren't so great, among the masses: "Well, what about . . . the person that I'm using to represent the ME?" What is more, it is just too easy to think that justice means that the WE-ME (pronounced WEEM to convey its syntagmatic integrity) is rewarded and You-These, Our Enemies, aren't.

Notice too that our obligation to the other is shifted, by way of genealogy, to a third party. In the case of Welch, our responsibility is shifted to "composition-rhetoric" which is, in its turn, understood as the transmission of knowledge/blessing from one generation to the next. And our responsibility to this third party might then be limited to reviewing or responding to the field of composition studies and choosing or not choosing to comment on the justice or injustice of the other's state. This is not so difficult, since ethics is treated, by way of genealogy, as a tool for rescripting the Us and Them.

We can see this scripting of the Us and Them at the beginning of Christine Farris' "Where Rhetoric Meets the Road: First-Year Composition," where it makes a brief appearance as the "late in-in-the-game crossover." On the one hand, this "late-in-the- game crossover" is an acknowledgement of responsibility ("Where," Farris asks, "did we go wrong? What did we forget to put [rhetoric?] in the curriculum?). On the other, the "late-in-the-game crossover" is a node for hierarchization that I had not encountered before. Apparently, it is not only important that one becomes a compositionist; it is also important to note when one starts to become a compositionist. Again, we see that time is related to responsibility. But here the relationship seems very easy to delineate since it is so nicely drawn along the bias of Us and Them. That Farris should be so interested in the "becoming us" illustrates that even among Us, time might be used to construct a hierarchy of limited responsibilities.

Kathleen Welch also acknowledges the existence of those who are becoming us; she calls them "auto-didacts" and "colleagues who did not discover an affinity for composition-rhetoric until after they completed graduate work." Yet, should the distinction between Us and Becoming-Us destabilize our metaphysics of identification a bit, this is my abstract way of saying that someone trying-to-become-us is a threat, we also have the term "retread" (which Welch contrasts with "auto-didacts" and such) to marginalize that individual's efforts and to limit our responsibility to them when composition meets the road. I'm not saying that this ethical perspective has ever been used for such a political/ethical end by anyone of us. But the very suggestion that we could have caused others to suffer unjustly is an affront to the Ethos-Ethics of those who, by way of genealogy, choose to figure their (non)responsiveness to the other as power rather than impotence. The affront is not that we ever did someone a bad turn; the affront is that it is not in our power to do so. The ethical perspective associated with genealogy requires that harming others is very much in our power, so much so that we must be careful to avoid the exercise of it. But what if someone seems to have been harmed? Well, we do what we can for the deserving, and we can't do anything (even if we should choose to try) for those who are not deserving.

Where do we go from here? I don't think that we should simply say "infinite responsibility" is good; limited responsibility is bad. It may very well be the case that what we call "justice" is only possible when we have constructed a "third term" to mediate the relationship between ourselves and others. Indeed, a third term's power may be our affective attachment to it. We might say that third terms are lightning rods that, from time to time, are struck by the infinite. Most of the time, however, third terms just encourage us to feel guilty, prompting us to respond emotionally to our guilt and not to the other.[4] How so? Once a third term is introduced into a discussion, we don't know how to account for our failure to respond. That is, when we act as professionals (as subjects interpolated with reference to some third term), we don't know whether our responsibility to the other is limited by law (the kinds of things that we can do as professionals) or our own abilities (the kinds of things that we can do). So, when we fail, how do we know whether it's because of the limitations placed on us by our jobs/circumstances or because we're idiots? This is a problem dramatized by the narrator of "Bartleby the Scrivener." When there is no third term (except ourselves), how do we shoulder the burden of being all that is I or all that is other? This is a problem dramatized by Jarratt and Vitanza. When others bring our third term to the table, I know I am but what are you? This is a problem dramatized by Farris and Welch. How this discussion sets the stage for another concerning Levinas' "third" and "the face," that's for another occasion.

Clearly, I've chosen to hear in Coleman and Goodman's call something that provokes me to consider what a Pathos-Ethics might be.[5] Their "call" may rationalize a feeling in terms of a narrative of loss: "Are we over rhetoric?" But even if we deny/accept/love/hate/ignore their narrative (as all responses do as if by necessity), this doesn't do away with the feeling. So, we can't simply respond to them by saying that they or anyone else should lose their loss. And what is this feeling, pray tell? That's the irritating thing about feelings; they are difficult to talk about and to heed because they have not been resolved into distinguishable emotional states. Then, what are we to do? We are so ill-equipped to live with feelings that we're almost ready to do anything (an anything that is accompanied by a distinguishable emotional state) in lieu of them. . . . Well, anything other than let go of the third term (which may or may not include the noun, "rhetoric") that we created to attract our feelings (our experience of the infinite) and make of them distinctive emotions that authorize/normalize finite acts.

Are feelings such dangerous stuff: gefährliches zeug, as Heidegger never said it even though he could have? Or is it that the easiest way to travel away from (gefahr) them is to say that no one (not one of Us [zeugen, to procreate]) has ever witnessed (bezeugen, to witness) the consequences of our responsiveness to them?[6]


1. The ethical implications of the affect/emotion distinction were the subject of a panel at the Rhetoric Society of America Conference (2004) in Austin, Texas. I thank Jenny Edbauer (U of Texas), Thomas Rickert (Purdue) and John Muckelbauer (University of South Carolina) for the time and insight they shared during and after their presentations. I would also like to thank Diane Davis (U of Texas) and Michelle Ballif (U of Georgia) for helping me, listening to me, as I/We (WE-ME) began to think through some of the rhetorical implications of this distinction. I must also thank the following for their assistance in revising this essay: my colleague, Joyce Neff, and the anonymous reviewers for this special issue of Enculturation. Of course, these names, because they are not synecdoches, have not been changed to protect the innocent. (Back)

2. The Toledot, the genealogy, is a genre popular in biblical literature. In the TANAKH, the Hebrew Bible, the genealogy usually occurs after a disaster (it's a way to count who's left) or to argue that Josiah (the king presiding over the reforms identified in Deuteronomy and the Deuteronomic History) is the Mashiach, the anointed one of the house of David. The Greek portion of the Christian Bible begins with a genealogy to propose that Jesus is the fulfillment of early Jewish messianic hopes. But all of this hope of reward and fear of punishment can be reduced to a phrase, which the authors of the Hebrew scriptures reserve for the deity or those who wish to dissuade the deity from some violent act: notser chesed laalafim (extending kindness to the thousandth generation); poked avon avot al-banim veal-benei vanim al shileshim vealribeim (visiting the iniquity of parents upon children and children's children, upon the third and fourth generations). (Back)

3. But can't we figure out a better way of honoring ourselves and the dead? Surely, as Michael Hyde has observed in The Call of Conscience, there might be a form of epideictic discourse that responds to the call of conscience in a different way (111). Please don't ask me what some of those ways might be. It is difficult to answer that question without simply offering another iteration of the problem. Last year, a good friend and colleague of mine (the anthropologist, Sue Kent, may her life be remembered as a blessing) died unexpectedly. As I spoke about my friend and as I listened and was comforted by the eulogies spoken in her name, I was struck by how much we focused on Sue's uniqueness, which required that we also, implicitly and explicitly, castigate those who did not conform to her uniqueness (which is, of course, all the rest of us). I wonder if those mourning were feeling guilty about being alive. But rather than saying that we felt guilty, we chose to say that we, by living, couldn't measure up to what Sue had attained in death. Sue's uniqueness, then, helped us to work our way through at least three of the so-called stages of mourning. We denied that this could happen to such a unique person; we were angry that this could happen to such a unique person; we accepted that she, in death, should be so unique. We then disposed of her library, set up a scholarship fund, and so on. But there are/were moments throughout this process of mourning, moments that sometimes still occur, when I hear or think of something that strikes me as "authentically Sue." At such moments, I'm happy/sad/depressed/angry and a bunch of other things, only all at once. I wonder, then, if the distinction between authentic and unique might help us to elaborate a new epideictic form as well as to describe what it is about epideixis that works. (Back)

4. I'm not certain that it is possible for us "to proceed from within a responsibility logic, not from within a guilt-blame one," as Krista Ratcliffe hopes in her article "Rhetorical Listening: A Trope for Interpretive Invention and a `Code of Cross- cultural Conduct'" (204). But the fence she asks us to mind between "Interpretive Invention" and "Guilt/blame" may make for better neighbors. Derrida's "Passions" complicates the matter just a bit by subjecting the act of listening, even as we listen in order to chart our flight from the constraints of a response, to the phenomenology of sacrifice (23) and the "rhetoric of cannibalism" (19). Derrida's treatment of the sociality of "the secret" in the same essay (24-31) might also be tested against the identification of the "hidden" with "difference in the same" in my reading of Bartleby. (Back)

5. I provide a more extensive discussion of ethos-ethics in my essay, "Shoah and The Origins of Teaching." What I'm calling pathos-ethics, here, goes by the name of "teaching" in that essay. (Back)

6. My suspicion is that distinguishing feelings from emotions (a phenomenology of feelings, however one might wish to conceive it) could be the first step in developing/supporting a kind of perspective for ethical discourse other than the one Levinas associates with the temptation of temptation (when grading student papers, let's say, or reviewing work for inclusion in our professional journals). Concerning "the temptation of temptation," Levinas writes: "The temptation of temptation is not the attractive pull exerted by this or that pleasure, to which the tempted one risks giving himself over body and soul. What tempts the one tempted by temptation is not pleasure but the ambiguity of a situation [in terms of this essay, the ambiguity of power/impotence] in which pleasure is still possible but in respect to which the Ego keeps its liberty, has not yet given up its security, has kept its distance. What is tempting here is the situation in which the ego remains independent but where this independence does not exclude it from what must consume it, either to exalt it or to destroy it. What is tempting is to be simultaneously outside everything and participating in everything" (Nine Talmudic Readings 33-34; Quatre Lectures Talmudiques 74). (Back)

Works Cited

Aristotle. The Art of Rhetoric. Trans. J.H. Freese. Loeb Classical Library. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1982.

Aristotle. On Rhetoric. Trans. George A. Kennedy. New York: Oxford UP, 1991.

Derrida, Jacques. "Passions." On the Name. Ed. Thomas Dutoit. Trans. David Wood. Stanford: Stanford UP, 1995: 3-31.

Heidegger, Martin. Being and Time. Trans. John Macquarrie and Edward Robinson. New York: Harper Collins, 1962.

Hyde, Michael. The Call of Conscience: Heidegger and Levinas, Rhetoric and The Euthanasia Debate. Columbia: U of South Carolina P, 2001.

JPS Hebrew-English TANAKH. Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society, 1999.

Levinas, Emmanuel. Nine Talmudic Readings. Trans. Annette Aronowicz. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1990.

- - - . Quatre Lectures Talmudiques. Paris: Les Éditions de Minuit, 1968.

Melville, Herman. "Bartleby, the Scrivener." The Norton Anthology of American Literature. Vol. I. Eds. Ronald Gottesman, et.al. New York: W.W. Norton & Co, 1979. 2107-2137.

Metzger, David. "Shoah and The Origins of Teaching." Witnessing the Disaster: Essays on Representation and the Holocaust. Eds. Michael Bernard-Donals and Richard Glejzer. Madison: U of Wisconsin P, 2003. 231-244.

Nussbaum, Martha. Upheavals of Thought: The Intelligence of Emotions. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2001.

Ratcliffe, Krista. "Rhetorical Listening: A Trope for Interpretive Invention and a Code of Cross-Cultural Conduct." CCC 51.2 (Dec 1999): 195-224.

Citation Format:

Metzger, David. "The Call for Rhetoric." Enculturation 5.2 (2004): http://enculturation.net/5_2/metzger.html

Contact Information:

David Metzger, Old Dominion University
Email: dmetzger@odu.edu
Home Page: http://www.odu.edu/al/engl/faculty/dmetzger.html

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