What is Rhetoric?

I’m getting back to basics these days because people have forgotten (or maybe they never learned) about writing and creative thinking. It seems I’ve literally run into people who don’t know the difference between being artistic and being autistic. Can you imagine how dark their worlds must be? Always labeling creative people as defective? So in getting back to basics, I decided to look up the word “rhetoric” to see what it says.

Full Definition of rhetoric (from Merriam-Webster, emphasis added): the art of speaking or writing effectively: as the study of principles and rules of composition formulated by critics of ancient times; the study of writing or speaking as a means of communication or persuasion.

Simple Definition of rhetoric: language that is intended to influence people and that may not be honest or reasonable; the art or skill of speaking or writing formally and effectively especially as a way to persuade or influence people.

Lo and behold! My whole problem in a nutshell. There’s a simple definition of rhetoric and an intellectual definition of rhetoric that are at odds with each other. I see rhetoric as coming from ancient times and being refined through the centuries so people can communicate using logic and reason. Other people see it as dishonest or unreasonable, trying to fool them into giving up their long-held beliefs.

Lesson learned? I had been hanging out around too many simple-minded people who thought that my rhetoric was designed to bully them into thinking like me. Their response was to ignore me or try to bully me into thinking like them. When I didn’t act like they wanted, they started attacking and harassing my real friends behind the scenes because they knew they would lose when it comes to reason and logic.

I sometimes joke to myself (because no one else would get it) that my Film and Video Writing degree would be more honestly called a Humanism and Rhetoric degree. The reason universities don’t call it that is because hordes of ‘folk’ would be lined up outside the gates with pitchforks demanding they stop teaching our kids to be heathens.

Oh well, I guess I need to keep reminding myself that having an education is becoming more and more of an anomaly in America. It’s getting scary here.

July 25, 2016 – 9:45am


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