Ambient Rhetoric

Ambient Rhetoric: The Attunements of Rhetorical Being

THOMAS RICKERT
Copyright Date: 2013
DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt5hjqwx
Pages: 320
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt5hjqwx
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  • Book Info
    Ambient Rhetoric
    Book Description:

    InAmbient Rhetoric,Thomas Rickert seeks to dissolve the boundaries of the rhetorical tradition and its basic dichotomy of subject and object. With the advent of new technologies, new media, and the dispersion of human agency through external information sources, rhetoric can no longer remain tied to the autonomy of human will and cognition as the sole determinants in the discursive act.Rickert develops the concept of ambience in order to engage all of the elements that comprise the ecologies in which we exist. Culling from Martin Heidegger's hermeneutical phenomenology inBeing and Time,Rickert finds the basis for ambience in Heidegger's assertion that humans do not exist in a vacuum; there is a constant and fluid relation to the material, informational, and emotional spaces in which they dwell. Hence, humans are not the exclusive actors in the rhetorical equation; agency can be found in innumerable things, objects, and spaces. As Rickert asserts, it is only after we become attuned to these influences that rhetoric can make a first step toward sufficiency.Rickert also recalls the foundational Greek philosophical concepts ofkairos(time),chora(space/place), andperiechon(surroundings) and cites their repurposing by modern and postmodern thinkers as "informational scaffolding" for how we reason, feel, and act. He discusses contemporary theory in cognitive science, rhetoric, and object-oriented philosophy to expand his argument for the essentiality of ambience to the field of rhetoric. Rickert then examines works of ambient music that incorporate natural and artificial sound, spaces, and technologies, finding them to be exemplary of a more fully resonant and experiential media.In his preface, Rickert compares ambience to the fermenting of wine-how its distinctive flavor can be traced to innumerable factors, including sun, soil, water, region, and grape variety. The environment and company with whom it's consumed further enhance the taste experience. And so it should be with rhetoric-to be considered among all of its influences. As Rickert demonstrates, the larger world that we inhabit (and that inhabits us) must be fully embraced if we are to advance as beings and rhetors within it.

    eISBN: 978-0-8229-7869-5
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
    DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt5hjqwx.1
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt5hjqwx.2
  3. PREFACE
    (pp. ix-xx)
    DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt5hjqwx.3
  4. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. xxi-xxii)
    DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt5hjqwx.4
  5. ABBREVIATIONS
    (pp. xxiii-xxvi)
    DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt5hjqwx.5
  6. INTRODUCTION. Circumnavigation: World/Listening/Dwelling
    (pp. 1-38)
    DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt5hjqwx.6

    As we move into the second millennium, we enter a time when new and often digital technologies are increasingly enmeshed with our everyday environment. Computer and telecommunications technologies are not only converging but also permeating the carpentry of the world, doing so in networks and technological infrastructures, houses and buildings, manufactured products, various sorts of content, and more. Information is not just externalized; it vitalizes our built environs and the objects therein, making them “smart,” capable of action. These innovations call us to reflect anew about our surroundings and the dispositions through which our rhetorical work emerges. We are entering...

  7. Part 1. DIFFRACTIONS OF AMBIENCE
    • CHAPTER 1 Toward the Chōra: Kristeva, Derrida, and Ulmer on Emplaced Invention
      (pp. 41-73)
      DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt5hjqwx.7

      Our understanding of what it means to inhabit and interact in spatial environments is changing. Holding on to a conception of ourselves as subjects who know, do, and make against a neutral, objective background is growing increasingly difficult. Fields as diverse as computing, biology, information design, cognitive science, and philosophy have in their own ways been pushing for a more dynamic sense of what it means for bodies to do things in physical and informational spaces, and these spaces are seen not just as the setting for activity but as a participant. Accordingly, the mind in particular is seen as...

    • CHAPTER 2 Invention in the Wild: On Locating Kairos in Space-Time
      (pp. 74-98)
      DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt5hjqwx.8

      Kairosis an ancient Greek concept most frequently understood in rhetorical theory as referring to a timely or appropriate moment for rhetorical action. It was common to rhetorical practice during the classical age and after but began waning in line with the general fading of rhetoric after the Enlightenment. The result was the neglect of kairos, a notion ill-suited for more “rational,” “enlightened” epistemic groundings. With the renaissance of rhetoric in the mid-to late twentieth century, however, the ground was prepared for renewed attention to many aspects of rhetorical theory. The time was ripe, as it were, for James L....

    • CHAPTER 3 Ambient Work: Networks and Complexity in an Ambient Age
      (pp. 99-129)
      DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt5hjqwx.9

      Who or what writes when something is written? In the opening to chapter 7 ofThe Moment of Complexity: Emerging Network Culture, Mark C. Taylor writes, “I, Mark C. Taylor, am not writing this book” (196). This seems counterintuitive. I have the book; his name is listed as the author’s; some agent with the designation “Mark C. Taylor” at some time put words to page or screen. Is this not an author? Yes and no, we might say. Certainly the author is not who she or he once was. Michel Foucault (“What”) and Roland Barthes have both suggested that the...

    • CHAPTER 4 Music@Microsoft.Windows: Composing Ambience
      (pp. 130-156)
      DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt5hjqwx.10

      Why does Microsoft Windows play music on startup?

      As is well known, all Windows versions except for 3.1 have a brief (four-to six-second) piece of music indicating that Windows is booted and ready for use. Each version has unique music, though as I will show, Windows 95’s startup music, written by Brian Eno, and Windows Vista’s music, written by Robert Fripp, share musical motifs. Nor is the music of Windows just an idle proposition, an afterthought: Eno and Fripp are wellknown musicians with strong ties to the avant-garde, and they were well paid for their work. So to repeat the...

  8. Part 2: DWELLING WITH AMBIENCE
    • CHAPTER 5 Rhetoric, Language, Attunement: Burke and Heidegger
      (pp. 159-190)
      DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt5hjqwx.11

      I have been arguing that rhetoric must be understood as enmeshed with and within its surroundings, which amounts to saying that rhetoric is ontological, being emergent from and wedded to the world, to the world’s being. Affect, or persuadability, already inheres, both materially and meaningfully, and is therefore prior to rhetoric. It is the condition of possibility for rhetoric’s emergence. And while world, as I have been using it, includes both matter and meaning, we still must attend to the way the material dimension is not just important but integral for rhetoric, just as discourse, sociality, and human exigence are...

    • CHAPTER 6 The Rhetorical Thing: Objective, Subjective, Ambient
      (pp. 191-219)
      DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt5hjqwx.12

      Rhetoric has always dealt with things, which is to say that rhetoric has not ignored the material realm. The field’s historically predominant focus on rhetor, audience, and language may obscure this point, but contemporary rhetorical theory in particular attends to materiality. For instance, the field has firmly incorporated Marx’s notion of dialectical materialism and its attendant critique of ideology. In addition, substantial contemporary work has investigated technology, institutions, and bodies. Indeed, even the notion of materiality is increasingly thematized in its own right as worthy of direct scholarly attention (Biesecker and Lucaites, Kochin). But the problem has always been how...

    • CHAPTER 7 Ambient Dwelling: Heidegger, Latour, and the Fourfold Thing
      (pp. 220-245)
      DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt5hjqwx.13

      In the previous chapters I have laid out some key theoretical underpinnings for conceiving rhetoric as ambient. I have argued that the subject/object dichotomy remains problematic for rhetorical theory, that the world is involved in human activity not as setting but as participant, that Heidegger’s theory of language prepares us for such a rapprochement with the material world, and that rhetoric stands to gain in retheorizing its relation to objects. Rhetoric is ambient in that it brings into its work elements beyond the human, and these elements always stand in complex relations, an “as a whole” whose individuated elements are...

    • CHAPTER 8 Attuning to Sufficiency: A Preparatory Study in Learning How to Dwell
      (pp. 246-270)
      DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt5hjqwx.14

      In the previous chapter I argued that dwelling is a way of life conditioned by things of the world. It is distinguished by a practical attunement of caretaking. The life we pursue makes the thing to be not a mundane object over which we exercise control or mastery, whose fate we unreflectively dispense, but rather a vibrant, meaningful, and integral actant fitting into the world. I continue those concerns in this chapter through two extended examples, both focused on automobility. This focus is no accident. Automobiles, as I will show, are not just thoroughly integrated into our way of life,...

  9. CONCLUSION. Movement, Heidegger’s Silence, Disclosure
    (pp. 271-286)
    DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt5hjqwx.15

    I began this book discussingterroir, a French term describing not simply ground or soil but the close-knit relation among grapevines, the earth, and cultivation techniques that imparts a unique quality to a wine (as the French have it,le goût du terroir, the taste of place). I even sketched, in germinal form, howterroirgathers the fourfold (earth, sky, divinities, and mortals) and stays them in the wine.Terroirremains an excellent example of ambient rhetoric actualizing worldly affectability. The “taste” of place arises not from a point of view or worldview about the essential contributions of place, production,...

  10. NOTES
    (pp. 287-312)
    DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt5hjqwx.16
  11. WORKS CITED
    (pp. 313-326)
    DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt5hjqwx.17
  12. INDEX
    (pp. 327-334)
    DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt5hjqwx.18