01 October 2008

A Response to Booth’s Rhetorical Stance (Rhetorical Theory)

Several statements with the text provoke complex thoughts, but the most poignant statement states, “Rhetoric is the art of finding and employing the most effective means of persuasion.” Then Booth remarks, “Nobody writes rhetoric, just as nobody ever writes writing.” What is his point? What is the argument? I do not know whether I disagree or agree with the statement. Moreover, he asserts, “rhetoric at best is very chancy…Successful rhetoricians are…born, not made.” I definitely agree with this assertion, but I am not sure why. Do I have a scientific basis for this belief or is it a biased opinion? Booth goes on to explain the importance of rhetoric in a serious and “persuasive” manner, by maintaining a “rhetorical balance.” Rhetorical balance is an absolute in teaching rhetoric and its survival as a rhetorical form. He believes in his argument and his passion echoes throughout the text. In essence, the text is persuading you to believe the argument; you become “falling prey” to Booth’s rhetoric. Furthermore, he is methodical and systematic, similar to Aristotle. Booth outlines three major points within the text, two of which “stand out” to me, the reader. Booth’s first stance is “the pedant’s stance.” The pedant’s stance occurs when the rhetorician betrays the audience by “writ[ing] not for the readers but for bibliographies.” The rhetorician mistakenly foregoes the audience and concentrates simply on the information and the argument. We must, as Booth states, “[have a] personal relationship [between the] speaker and [the] audience.” He proves his argument or point by using stories to expand the understanding of the reader. Booth’s third stance is the “entertainer’s stance” and it “stands out” as well. Booth describes it as the “willingness to sacrifice substance to personality and charm.” Instead of forgoing the audience for the argument, the “entertainer’s stance” forgoes the argument for the audience. The rhetorician is attempting to win the audience through “empty colorfulness.” Again, he proves his argument or point by using stories to expand the understanding of the reader. In essence, Booth presents the extremes of rhetoric and the naïve mistakes students of rhetoric often make by not maintaining proper balance. The proper balance means that one is able to make “...the available arguments about the subject itself; the interests and peculiarities of the audience; and the voice, the implied character, of the speaker.” Booth stresses that rhetoric is an art and must be done correctly; otherwise the art will be lost.

1 comment:

-nick said...

i'm glad to see that you're using some things from our rhetoric class.

i found a lot of contradictions in booth and his teachings. he wasn't a favorite of mine.

but, on the other hand, you've analyzed his work very well.

until next time
-nick