Being Made Strange: Rhetoric Beyond Representation (Suny Series in Communication Studies)
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By elaborating upon pivotal twentieth-century studies in language, representation, and subjectivity, Being Made Strange reorients the study of rhetoric according to the discursive formation of subjectivity. The author develops a theory of how rhetorical practices establish social, political, and ethical relations between self and other, individual and collectivity, good and evil, and past and present. He produces a novel methodology that analyzes not only what an individual says, but also the social, political, and ethical conditions that enable him or her to do so. This book also offers valuable ethical and political insights for the study of subjectivity in philosophy, cultural studies, and critical theory.
unambiguously distinct identities. Hence, identity in itself is the organizing principle of representation; difference has value only as a measure of identity. However, Deleuze (1994) suggests that notions of difference were not always subjugated to the “primacy” of identity in the Western tradition. Indeed, they were not initially subservient to this seemingly ideal and transparent category. In the following sections, I offer two distinct but complementary accounts of representation in order to
objective truth represented the ideal of knowledge as such. Throughout the Renaissance, representation functioned in its purest form, as nature’s signature of a latent resemblance, or a form of identity, between similar objects. During the Enlightenment, representation facilitated classiﬁcation of phenomena according to their manifest identities, their characteristic natures. In the nineteenth century, “man” became the identity of representation itself: the one for whom representation existed, in
then, persuasion originally referred to a gerund instead of a noun, to the very process of turning (tropos). It did not refer to any one form of turning but to turning itself. Consequently, in order to appreciate fully the topos of persuasion one must attend to its middle voice. In an apt parallel to Derrida’s notion of différance (1982, 1–27), Naas observes that “turning will prove to be neither a word nor a concept, neither 90 Being Made Strange simply active nor passive, neither a verb nor
culture once did. Nevertheless, we use a traditional and seemingly stable category (being) in order to do so. On the other hand, “being” may also be taken as a gerund, in which case what we normally consider a thing would in fact be an action, an occurrence. Our understanding of ourselves as kinds of beings is unsettled, subject to alteration, and we know it. Our ideas about the state of our being are informed by its gradual transformation, by its becoming other than what it once was. We do not
sense and value that deﬁnes such an ethos is engendered, rather, by discursive differences, by transformations in discursive practices. It represents, not the character of an ideal subject, but the sense and value acquired by a variety of social, political, and ethical relations. Ethos here refers to the discursive production of subject positions through transformations in ways of thinking, knowing, and speaking rather than to the representation of an essential human 104 Being Made Strange