The Blogora: The Rhetoric Society of America
slewfoot's blog


an almost-elegy for the acerbic: jim aune (1953-2013)

Submitted by slewfoot on January 21, 2013 - 4:15pm

Like the numbers, the words have come, but not in the way I would wish them. I have learned through a failure measured against the pens of more gifted friends that I cannot write poetry. I wish that I could, because poetically is how I would like to mourn for Jim, who loved poetry. I may not be a poet, but I recognize the feelings that those gifted wordsmiths help deliver to language, especially in the not-quite-but-just-still-somehow-right asymmetries. There is no right way about this or any death.

When I think of Auden I think of Aune.

I write an almost-elegy, then, in the mode of eulogy, perhaps better said as a prayer. I want to remember Jim as a petition to help each other and for us to let others help us.

Stated simply: I hurt for Jim and I hurt for losing him.


Helmglot's Apocryphal Porpoise

Submitted by slewfoot on June 19, 2012 - 5:27pm

Here's a question for you learned folks. In a rather obscure Neoplatonic rhetorical text my friend and colleague Barry Brummett ran across a reference to "Helmglot's apocryphal porpoise," which is apparently some sort of alchemical metaphor for something that keeps rising up above a water line or will not stay "under" (like a Cheerio in milk or what Freud terms "repression"). Barry has used it as shorthand for difficult theory in the humanities, and I've found it both fun and handy as well. That said: does anyone know anything about the metaphor or its origin?


A "Whoops" Registration for Biannual Confy

Submitted by slewfoot on February 17, 2012 - 2:51pm

If a lot of you out there are like me, you had a "whoopsie" moment and didn't register for the RSA conference in Philly this May yet. I just corresponded with the membership director and managed to register today. I'm told I'll still appear on the program. Technically, you can register up until the conference itself, however, if you want to appear on the program you were supposed to register by Tuesday. I'm told if you register today you can still appear on the program!--that is, if your paper or panel was accepted.


The Unbearable Slowness of Peer Review, Continued

Submitted by slewfoot on August 4, 2011 - 1:44pm

This past June Jim Brown posted about his troubles with the length of peer review; he complained it was taking up to four months to get reviews of manuscripts. I chimed in that it was taking not months, but years to see something through the review process. I now tell aspiring scholars to anticipate at least a year, probably closer to two, for a piece to go through review and get published.

This advice may seem far-fetched, but I have too many examples to prove the exception has now become the rule. Attempting to be the parrhesiades Foucault writes about in Fearless Speech, I think it's fair to say the worst peer review experience I had was with the . . .


On Discerning a Field

Submitted by slewfoot on March 31, 2011 - 10:33am

Rhetorical studies in the United States developed from an "innate bisexuality," as Freud might say, but with nods to Judy Butler, not before the law. The law is, "rhetoric is not that!" or as Robert L. Scott might say, "in the beginning was the error!" With our drives focused on the erogenous zones of English and Speech, rhetorical studies has been an interesting partial object to say the least.

Alternately stated, I discern a parallel between bisexuality and rhetorical studies because of the often-irrational anxieties folks in the field have about its imminent demise (elsewhere I've described this as apocalyptic, but we've been reading Butler in class so my mind is on identity politics). There's no mistake in noting our academic attractions aim in different directions; and there's no question many would have us "choose" only one. Put yet another way: rhetorical studies has always been interdisciplinary, and it's only becoming more so. In fact, the Rhetorical Society of America is attractive to many of us because it provides a kind of umbrella (what the Alliance of Rhetorical Societies did) and exposes us to the very different ways those who identify as "rhetoricians" pursue teaching and scholarship. And for a number of us who attend NCA or the 4C's, increasingly RSA is feeling more like "home."


Music Sampling

Submitted by slewfoot on March 24, 2011 - 11:26pm

We don't have many public intellectuals in our field---and figuring out why that is the case is complicated. It's something we might begin a conversation about.

Kimbrew McLeod, associate professor of Communication Studies at the University of Iowa, has been doing some amazing public intellectual work in recent years. He's one of those rare academics who actively pursue the public screen while maintaining an active scholarly profile.


Annoying Spam Filters

Submitted by slewfoot on December 27, 2010 - 1:20pm

I spent some time composing a response to David's post on Black Swan. Every time I attempt to post it, I get this message: "Your submission has triggered the spam filter and will not be accepted."


on popular seething anger

Submitted by slewfoot on July 14, 2010 - 10:53pm

A number of friends have pointed me to the "Opinionator," an online blog for philosophers hosted by The New York Times. My buddy and co-author Mirko Hall pointed me to a very insightful (and scary) essay by J.M. Bernstein, a scholar who shares many intellectual affinities with some of the usual suspects on the Blogora. In his post titled "The Very Angry Tea Party", Bernstein suggests recent popular outrage is less political and more metaphysical.


it's synthpop friday!

Submitted by slewfoot on May 1, 2009 - 12:00am

With this post I end my month-long tenure at the Blogora. Many thanks to the folks at RSA for inviting me to blather; what fun! I'll see you here in the comments, and o'er at the Rosechron for the usual yammer. Don't eat the yellow snow!


query: posting responses on the blogora

Submitted by slewfoot on April 30, 2009 - 3:01pm

Music: Aphex Twin: Selected Ambient Works, Volume Two (1994)

The Blogora gets hundreds of discrete "hits" a day, so we know folks are reading. There is wonderment, however, about the general paucity of response posts on this forum in general. Some of us have speculated some rationales: (1) the response interface is confusing; (2) folks without job security (e.g., grads) are "afraid" to post out of fear; (3) there's just no time to sit down and make a response, it's the end of the semester, and so on. But we don't know for certain. So, I offer the question: why don't you post responses on the Blogora? The reason could simply be "I have no compulsion." But, again, we dunno. Feel free to email me anonymously if you don't, you know, want to respond in this forum: slewfoot at mail dot utexas dot edu.