Weak arguments The little

October 15, 2003

Weak arguments

The little man woke up at 5:00 this morning, and while he got back to sleep neither J nor I did. I was lying in bed with my mind drifting, and I figured out that the long blog on Lies, Truth, and the Meaning of Words has a massive hole and two questionable rhetorical decisions. Now I need to write it down so the criticism will leave my head and I can grade.

The hole should be pretty darn obvious. I use the rhetorical technique synecdote to argue that popular culture can be reduced to Jim Steinman. And, despite the passing reference to J. D. Salinger, I do not provide any other evidence of a popular culture that values pathological honesty. If I were going to submit this for publication, even as an op-ed piece, I would have to go digging around in the lyrics of Eminem, Britney Spears, and other popular entertainers. Or, possibly, I could include a paragraph on "keeping it real" and the politics of personal presentation. I might still do that, but I won't research for a blog article. Blogging is self-indulgence, and there is a limit to the amount of time I will let it absorb.

The questionable decisions came as I tried to decide what to do with my comparison of Stevenson and Steinman. I chose to take it personal. This fit with the motif of speaking truth that had come up in the previous two entries, and the whole 3-piece set may well have been inspired by an email I sent to DW yesterday morning responding to her blogging about how best to tell the very vanilla man she is starting to date that she can be romantically faithful but not sexually faithful. I told her to tell the truth, for living a lie just eats away at you. (Edit - she agrees that she is compulsively honest.) Writing that email in the morning brought the Stevenson-Steinman thing to the forefront of my mind, I chewed on it all day, and when I got home I blogged it myself. The point of the story is that the whole thing came out of personal reflections and personal experience. A blog is, in the end, self indulgence and my blog is a diary not a manifesto. So, I went personal. It was the best choice for a blog entry, but having taken it personal I am less likely to submit the entry anywhere, even to Bonfire of the Vanities.

The second questionable decision was to go from the personal to the political. Short-term political speech is something that has also been lurking around the back of my head for a few weeks - I posted a teaser to the thought on one of Kevin Drum's Calpundit response threads. I was ignored there, I might be ignored here. In any case, I saw the connection to political speech. If I ever revise these thoughts and put them into proper culture-vulture form, I will return to the opening dichotomy between artistic speech valuing a pathological honesty and political speech grounded in expediency. As it was, coming out of a discussion of personal approaches to truth, I continued to frame the political question in personal terms.

Finally, of course, like a good New England sermon, I gave an application for my doctrine. That, I think, was a good decision.

And so to grade, and to revise chapter three some more.

Posted by Red Ted at October 15, 2003 08:08 AM | TrackBack