The Blogora: The Rhetoric Society of America


An Unusual Email

Submitted by syntaxfactory on July 20, 2013 - 10:25am

I received this today:

Dear David,

I am writing a speech for the wedding of my very good friend, also a David Beard, and I was hoping to garner some words of wisdom/advice from his namesakes that I could pass on to him.

I appreciate the oddity of this request but, I would be extremely grateful for any advice or wisdom that I could pass on from a fellow David Beard to my friend. On life, love, marriage, your area of expertise - anything really.

Indeed, perhaps given the area of your expertise, from your website, appears to be rhetoric, you could provide both of us with some advice for our wedding day speeches.

All the very best to you,

David Beard
10:27 AM (0 minutes ago)

to Michael
I am probably the wrong person to ask. But maybe that is instructive.

1. I believed that keeping a good job so that my family could live comfortably was the most important thing I could do for my family. As a result, I was not there when then sometimes believed they needed me, and I almost lost them. Thankfully, I can say "almost," but every day, I am working to repair that rift. There is no place in a toast for stories of a nearly-failed marriage, but if you can find a way to tell The Other David that there is no better thing to give your family than your time, he would be smarter than I was.

2. Rhetoric is typically divided into three genres:

forensic: establishing responsibility for something in the past (like "forensic" science on CSI, lawyers and politicians do this a lot)
deliberative: establishing what we do in the future -- policymakers and businessmen do this.
epideictic: celebratory rhetoric, like a wedding speech, in which we don't talk about how we got here or what we do next -- we celebrate the values we hold in common.

If you can write a wedding speech that tells a good story that reflects your values, the values of the newlyweds, and the values of the families and friends present -- if you can tell a story that sews all of these people together into a single community, if only for this one day, you have written an incredible wedding speech.

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