1 Voodoolrajas

Communication Studies Cape Essays About Love

\u2018WORDS HAUNT ME\u2019

It was mid-afternoon and Romain was about to meet the parents of his girlfriend. He was

very nervous as he kept hearing the words of his father over and over in his head. \u201cU r no

gud...no one wil ever love u.\u201d But he felt there was some hope as he\u2019s loved by his girlfriend

Rae-Ann. However, he fears that this may not be the case with her parents. They would neverapprove of a boy living in a small three roomed house with his mother, who had to take him andflee for their lives from his abusive father\u2026..

\u201cIt\u2019s going to be alright hun. Don\u2019t worry, my parents will love you!\u201d says Rae-Ann

kissing her boyfriend of six months on his cheek.

\u201cAh nervous babe. Yuh fada is ah big man in de business an mi is nun in he books!\u201d utters

Romain with a hint of fear as he wipes his face for the third time.

Taking him by his hand and patting it gently she proceeds to say \u201cRelax\u201d and they both make

their way towards the front door. As Rae-Ann opens the door she calls out to her parents \u201cMom,

Dad, we\u2019re here!\u201d The parents emerged from the kitchen area and proceeded to the living room

where they embraced their daughter. Returning to her boyfriend\u2019s side holding his arm, Rae-Ann

introduces her boyfriend.

\u201cMom, Dad, I\u2019d like you to meet Romain\u201d

Firstly wiping the palms of his hand on his trousers, Romain reaches out and greets both parents.

\u201cGood evening Mr. and Mrs. Carmino, a pleasure to meet you!\u201d

\u201cGood evening Romain, please have a seat\u201d replies Mr.Carmino after firmly shaking

Romain\u2019s hand.

\u201cDinner will be ready in ten minutes, hope you\u2019re not too hungry\u201d says Mrs.Carmino

smiling while taking her seat besides her husband.

Without hesitation Mr.Carmino says \u201cSo, what are your intentions with my daughter young

man?\u201d

Before Romain could answer Rae-Ann pleas in a soft voice with her father \u201cDaddy please\u201d

holding on to her father\u2019s arm.

\u201cIt\u2019s alright Rae,\u201d says Romain making and holding eye contact with her father. \u201cMr.Carmino

my intentions are pure. All I have is respect for your daughter and I will never disrespect her in

Since our society regularly sings the praises of love and slings hate at rhetoric (basically persuasive communication), finding out that love has long been a metaphor for rhetorical communication, since before the time of Plato, may surprise the casual reader. The ancient Greek sophist Gorgias compared rhetoric and love through his discussion of the case of Helen of Troy, Plato contemplated the pros and cons of rhetoric and love in his famous dialogue, the Phaedrus, and many recent scholars have revitalized the metaphor of love and rhetoric. In our essay, “Rhetoric and this Crazy Little ‘Thing’ Called Love,” my co-author Josue David Cisneros and I review this history and offer an alternative understanding of rhetoric-love as an act rather than a thing, arguing that such an understanding helps scholars and critics understand the possibilities for both connection and division in acts of love-rhetoric. We call for all rhetors to practice a loving-rhetoric, one whose enactment seeks to connect rather than divide.

The metaphor of love-rhetoric makes sense to scholars because they see in both rhetoric and love the potential for deception and communion. Just as love might lead lovers into crazy acts and clouded thoughts, rhetoric is often lambasted for its empty and dangerous deceit. Yet just as love promises a special union with another, rhetoric holds the possibility for bringing people together for their mutual benefit. Typically, scholars envision rhetoric and love as stable things and then seek to pass judgment on them. This has been true for those ancient Greek thinkers of love and rhetoric as well as contemporary scholars seeking to revive the metaphor. Many psychoanalytic scholars portray love-rhetoric as based in a stupid delusion. Meanwhile, Neo-Platonic scholars praise love-rhetoric for its possibilities in promoting identification, communion, and union.

Each of these approaches seeking to condemn and/or exalt love-rhetoric, begins with an ontology – that is, with certain assumptions about human being. Psychoanalytic scholars claim that humans are fundamentally divided from one another, thus rhetoric and love are simply false promises of a union that can never be achieved. They fear these false promises of union, since history illustrates that claims for union (think Nazi Germany) can lead to the horrible oppression of those defined as “others” (the Jew). Hitler’s rhetoric, like many a silly pop song, promised a transcendent, happily-ever-after connection with the pure Aryan people, wishing away many of the difficulties of life and differences between people, just as a pop song might make love seem like a perfect melting into oneness. Neo-Platonic scholars, on the other hand, believe human beings hold an inherent potential for union, for bringing souls together into a perfect harmony. Thus, for these scholars, rhetoric-love should be celebrated as a means of unifying people.

In our essay, we argue by beginning with assumptions about human being (an ontology) both of these approaches conceive of rhetoric-love as a static thing (Love is…, Rhetoric is…) rather than as an act (I love, I communicate). Conceiving rhetoric-love as a thing allows scholars to pass judgment on love-rhetoric, either praising it for its possibilities of union or criticizing it for its stupidity and deceit. Such a position puts the critic in the role of the judge, what Ron Greene calls the “moral entrepreneur,” and leaves the critic with a permanent anxiety, constantly worried that rhetoric-love is being used for ill. Of course, we can find numerous examples of rhetoric being used for ill, but these prior conceptualizations of rhetoric-love begin from too broad a position, trying to judge rhetoric and love as a whole rather than consider each act individually. In contrast, conceiving rhetoric-love as acts allows critics to make contextual evaluations of each act of rhetoric-love in an attempt to discover those acts that promote connection rather than division, which heal rather than make ill.

Rather than beginning with an ontology of human beings, our alternative approach leaves the question of what humans can become fundamentally open. That is, we refuse to say that humans are either fundamentally connected or divided, prior to any individual act. In response to the ontological question “What is human being?” we reply, “I do not know.” We contend humans have the potential for both connection and division, in many different ways and to many different degrees, rather than foreclosing the numerous possibilities in advance with an ontological judgment. We see humans as a becoming, rather than a being, as a series of acts rather than a stable thing. We become human through our acts of love and rhetoric, and no one has yet discovered all the possibilities of human becoming. It remains the scholar’s role to explore these possibilities contextually, to take each new becoming individually and evaluate whether these are truly acts of love or acts that hurt and divide. The connections we make through love and rhetoric will always be partial and temporary; no one act will transform the world into some utopia. Thus we must engage in the hard work of repeatedly engaging in acts of loving rhetoric anew. Love, unlike the tales in so many of our pop songs, is hard work, but it remains just as possible and real as are the (all too many) acts of hate and deceit.  

Answering “I don’t know” to the big philosophical questions about love, about rhetoric, and about human being might be scary to scholars who have been trained to search for answers. Yet such a perspective allows scholars to, instead, roll up their sleeves and engage in the hard work of evaluating on a case-by-case basis, to the best of our always limited knowledge. Better yet, such a perspective allows scholars to escape from the permanent anxiety of the moral entrepreneur who is always seeking to judge rhetoric and love once and for all. Instead, this scholarly gesture remains open to the possibilities of different becomings and ever hopeful that we can uncover new ways of becoming that more closely embody acts of loving rhetoric and can therefore promote the health of ourselves and our world. Discovering such acts and uncovering new ways of becoming a loving-rhetor should be, in our opinion, our primary scholarly task.

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