Mrs. Obama, former USA’s first lady chose an interesting name for her book – Becoming. A rhetoric for continuity, ongoing, something perpetual. The title of the book, whose reading is still in the bucket, is a lesson in rhetoric.
Rhetoric – an art that uses a whole range of tools ranging from persuasion, garb, silence, conquest, and so on – is the media’s lifelong passion.
In a world saturated with media offerings, rhetoric draws the audience. Those headlines and titles that herald sensual drives such as love, hate, conquest, submission, and so on.
Given that human beings have sophisticated forms of rhetoric, it is an interesting subject of inquiry.
The rhetoric process is sensual in the sense that it is initiated and directed at the human common senses, i.e., seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, and feeling.
Human courtship, the sort that leads to intimacy, for example, begins with sensual encounters.
Courtship rhetoric includes dearing terms such as honey, dear, babe, and so on. How different would courtship be if such terms were replaced with cusses – like motherfucker, creepy, and so on?
What, no alternatives though, if Mrs. Obama chose a different title for her bestseller.
Two personal growing-up experiences come to mind. The first, during my basic schooling, was through corporal punishment for being ‘shy.’ Teacher said it was rude to avoid greeting him and withdrawing gaze from his.
Later, in a graduate class, for being nosy – asking pesky questions in favor of more talk than writing. The professor, nonchalantly and devoid of any corporal measures, delivered a targeted, hurting, and humbling sarcasm.
Both cases represented misplaced rhetoric. No garb was needed. Just look at the teacher and respectively accept or offer greetings, and; just take down notes and do the necessary research later, respectively.
In a sense, profane cussing and swearing in the arts may entertain but with the risk of permeating mainstream life.
In the mainstream, the cuss words themselves seem to have a course of their own. The example of courtship comes, with accompanying sensual rhetoric, to mind.
In the ‘art’ context, profanity is funny, entertaining, defying the mainstream, adventurous and absurd, and so on. Doing without it would be normal and non-newsworthy.
Drawing the line is the work of the sort of wisdom displayed by Jesus when interacting with the unholy – the prostitutes and adulterers, for example.
In John 8:4 and 5 (KJV), ‘they say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou?’
In today’s ‘cock-sucking’ rhetoric parlance, such a movie, for example, would provide comic relief. However, in the real and practical setting, the offending lady would be lucky for such a high-profile hearing by the King.
The jury and the judge would likely be the offended husband’s – fatal or maiming sucker punch. No comic, nothing entertaining or peaceful.
In a delicate process like peace building, Rhetoric, you could say, is a delicate art requiring Christ’s (sort of) wisdom.