Sunday, November 30, 2008

A Rhetorical Thanksgiving

One of the most ironic things about taking this class is how much it has affected my perception of the outside world. I am constantly more aware of what is going on around me and often find myself evaluating people's words and trying to define their "governing gazes." While Emig's inquiry paradigm is meant to be applied to the workplace, I often find myself applying it outside of the workplace as I am currently unemployed.

One of these such occasions was at Thanksgiving with my family. I have a rather large family with 10 uncles and 1 aunt, all on my mom's side. Any holiday where a vast majority of the family gets together is a huge event. Personalities always clash and it rarely goes smoothly.

I began to look at my family as a business or organization. Thus applying the theories I learned to my family. First off, the structure that was created through the individual agency of family members was incredibly flawed. We had become a hierarchical organization in which the oldest were the most dominant, and the youngest had little to no agency. Agency in this context would be the ability to express an uncensored opinion to the group.

Of course, being one of the younger ones I was aware of this structure and aware of the agency that was inherently mine for the taking. I utilized Emig's theory of "governing gaze" and my ability to be phenomenological to accurately and efficiently communicate with my eldest uncles.

To my surprise, I wasn't rejected and more often than not, my opinion was respected. I was able to discrusively appeal to their idea of what the structure implied. In other words, I was no longer considered just a child, but my opinion as an adult was taken and valued. For me, this is something that I had never experienced. My opinion was heard and valued, not belittled. My family is the typical structure where males are seen as "smarter" than the women, with women's opinions meaning next to nothing. I wanted to change this, because in my opinion I had a more educated opinion than the majority of my elder male counterparts.

This is something that while it seems extreme is exactly how I view most families. Most families have elders that must be respected. If you are aware of your ability to manipulate structure through your discourse, then you are in control of your own agency. In this, I was able to actively apply several theorists to my personal life to further my own agency within the structure of my family.

It felt so good.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Of Infinite Rhetorical Wisdom, Faber States...

"power is perhaps better seen to be a much more dynamic, productive, insidious phenomenon. Viewing power as an exclusively oppressive phenomenon does little to characterize the multiple ways in which power operates." (114)

Faber in this quote states the definition of power as it relates to image. On the recommendation of Professor Ramirez, I am going to take one of my favorite quotes in Faber's Communication Action and Organizational Change and hopefully uncover where it takes me in my writing.

As I read this, I thought of the power that is given to several authorities throughout our lives. Especially to government. Specifically the so called democractic government of the United States.

As Americans, we have become complacent in the role given to us by our own government. I won't begin to deny that I don't agree with everything the government has done. Yet, there is nothing that I have done to take on the power that the United States has created through its structure. They have created an image that is one of infallible rule over its people.

Throughout the times, citizens have questioned the validity of this power and have often wondered whether it is truly absolute. One such event is the World Trade Organization protests in 1999 that took place in Seattle, WA. The World Trade Organization is an organization that is meant to promote free trade throughout the world. A trend that leans towards globalization and the strengthening of societal divides, in other words the rich get richer while the poor get poorer. Over 40,000 citizens stood up to peacefully protest this meeting of world powers on how they meant to stifle something they didn't believe in.

I watched a documentary years ago titled, "This is What Democracy Looks Like." It still makes the top 10 of my all time favorite documentaries. It chronicles the rhetoric that was used in mainstream media to turn the general public against the protesters of the WTO. This rhetoric was influenced by the power claimed by the United States and the World Trade Organization. It also makes mention of how a united front against power can take back its agency and affect the power that an organization may hold.

These people believed strongly enough in their ability to apply pressure on the government that they had elected to represent their best interests. They had agency in the face of structure, in the face of the phenomenon of power. They continued to hold their right to agency and directly influenced the turnout of the summit in Seattle.

If common people have the ability to influence the phenomenon and notion of power, then why is it now that we remain steadfastly silent? As the government continues to exercise its self-proclaimed power over us we sit and wait until someone else does something before we stand up and combat that power. Most of us aren't aware that the power of the government is held through their rhetoric and structure. This is our inability to effectively challenge that status quo and make changes for the better.

For me, Faber ultimately describes the absolute power that is held by the government and states that that power can be challenged through agency.

So, I ask. Why haven't we used our agency to challenge the invisible powers of government?

I also hope that this post doesn't put me on the FBI's most wanted list. :)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Questioning Rhetorical Questions

I am currently enrolled in a junior level English course, entitled "Workplace Writing." My initial expectations for the class was to learn to create resumes and memos. I was expecting it to be a class that would not challenge my mind and abilities. A breeze through class that so many people pray for. The exception to this rule, being me. I live for a challenge.

Unlike most students, I am at the stage in my life where I want to be challenged in something I know I can excel in. As a music major, I excelled in something I had no formal training in. My brain was fried, I had 3 semesters left and decided that I was done. It helped plant the seed for my deep love and appreciation for all types of music, but I couldn't continue on. I moved back to El Paso to start a new life and get my focus back. I am hungry for new life lessons, having just had the biggest one yet. Moving from your well established life isn't necessarily the way to deal with your problems, it is running. In the back of my head, I knew it was running, but I had myself convinced that I was doing it for me. I can't go back on my decision now, so I am pursuing a different degree at UTEP.

Which led me to take this junior level English course. The first day we were introduced to "rhetoric" and the theory of "rhetoric." My first impression was that this class was going to be incredibly difficult and not useful to a business degree. I quickly learned that the theory of rhetoric is implanted in our every day lives, we just don't face it with acknowledgment. The past three months that I have been learning about rhetoric and discourse, I have applied what I have learned to my every day life and work. I am more aware when the word rhetoric is tossed around. I analyze it differently, it no longer means "rhetorical question" it has a deeper meaning now.

Okay, so that is nice, but what is the reason for this blog?

This blog is not only to explore how rhetoric impacts my daily life, but also my daily life through my eyes. I think it is increasingly difficult to understand how one relates to certain events. We live in a time where it is possible to get an "inside" but censored point of view. I want to make my experiences public, to hopefully solicit objective opinions from strangers and friends.

Here is to blogging...