(Gotta love a good colon title, yeah?)
When one commonly thinks of ‘Writing,’ the idea usually looks something like this. (‘this’ being what you’re looking at right now, words/sentences/paragraphs/punctuation.) ‘Literacy’, then, seems tied to the ability to understand and communicate in writing and, consequently, the avenue by which we achieve a higher literacy is through reading and writing (because its all “words, words, words”). But this hasn’t always been the case. As some thinkers like Walter Mignolo, Mircea Eliade, or Levi-Strauss have acknowledged, pre-alphabetic humans had an entirely different means of communication usually through image-based communication (a la Hieroglyphics, pictographs, or even, one could argue, Art).
If we acknowledge that there have been other literacies (even though Microsoft Word does not as it is currently telling me that ‘literacies’ isn’t a word..Ha!), then, perhaps, we are merely far too comfortable with our current paradigm to consider other forms of writing, rhetoric, or even literacy may exist (dun Dun DUN!). (This is the basic presupposition for the continuation of my research that will, hopefully, be documented on WordPress.)
With the growth and spread of mediums of communication like photography and film (although I think art and music could also fit in as well), I think we have reach a point where we can, once again, be able to form meaning, purpose, and argument through an image-based system. I think that to say that mediums like art or film do not convey an argument severely limits the art form and is simply untrue. These forms create meaning is different ways, but nonetheless Meaning is created.
For example, I intend to examine how film goes about creating meaning and argument. I am going to try and stay away from the actual words of the script (as that would involve words again), but inevitably, they will come into play. Nonetheless, I intend to focus on how the placement of images next to each other (whether by comparison or juxtaposition), the use of editing, and the manipulation of score (and other more technical aspects of film/art) create an alternative rhetoric that doesn’t use words at all, yet somehow functions in the same ways of the traditionally conceptualized idea of “rhetoric.”
Perhaps I should define some terms? (’cause isn’t so much of the pain/pleasure of academic writing about finding the right words..even though we know that words will ultimately fail us. Yet, the chase of the doe continues on…)
‘Meaning’ is the hardest. ‘Meaning,’ to me, seems to be the result of intent. However, this intent is purely based upon the subjective gaze of the viewer and can indeed differ from original intent by the artist (if such a thing exists….). ‘Argument,’ then, is the construction of ideas to get at Meaning. We have all sorts of different genres of arguments, but I’m aiming to be broad here. Alas, then we have the tricky question of Art. I’m going to leave you to decide what Art is, but throughout this process I will working with what I consider Art (and if you disagree, let me know and we can dig a little deeper).
Did I cover everything? I’m totally just throwing these definitions out there and consider them to be entirely working definitions. As I/we (for writing is a collaborative process) begin to dissect what it means to “write” or “using rhetoric,” there is going to be an obvious need to rework a lot of definitions. But my brain is all I have to start with, but with helpful comments (wink, wink, nudge, nudge), maybe we can create something better?
Please, comment. Tell me what you want to know more about, where I fall short, where I’m right on, and provide any ideas that you may have. If you’re too shy to comment, then I hope you will at least be entertained by my silly musings!
Until Next Time!