Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Rhetoric to Recruit Radicals: Tropes and Schemes in Fight Club monologues

Rhetoric to Recruit Radicals: Tropes and Schemes in Fight Club monologues
            Everyone knows the first two rules of fight club. “You do not talk about fight club.” The film based on a book of the same name is highly quotable, which likely has something to do with its place as a widely recognizable film and cult classic. But surely this can’t be the only reason that the film from 1999 based on a book from 1996 remains a cultural staple in 2013. Beyond quoteability there are forces at work in this film that make it a cult classic, and keep it alive in today’s rapidly changing culture of flashes and fads.
            Tyler Durden, an anarchist revolutionary played by Brad Pitt, is introduced and dramatically changes the life of the unnamed insomniac main character of the film played by Edward Norton.  This reckless character is enthralling in his opposition to the capitalist lifestyle that the narrator and much of the films audience have accepted. This exciting agent of chaos makes the film the staple that it is. Throughout the film he has several monologues and lines that challenge the lives we live and present an intriguingly different ideology.
                He suggests at one point of the film, “You're not your job. You're not how much money you have in the bank. You're not the car you drive. You're not the contents of your wallet. You're not your f---ing khakis. You're the all-singing, all-dancing crap of the world.” These claims juxtapose contrastingly with the narrators consumerist life. Before meeting Tyler the narrator has an inner monologue about the comfort of buying furniture, the comfort in knowing that when you bought a sofa, at least that was one problem in your life solved. Consumerism at its finest.
            In, perhaps, Tyler Durden’s most famous monologue from both the film and book, he delivers the rules of fight club. This creatively written delivery has many aspects of plain style writing, as would be expected from a set of rules. They are made more memorable, however, by a distinct set of schemes which revolve mainly around the word ‘fight.’ If we look at rules three through seven, which are as follows: “Third rule of Fight Club: if someone yells 'stop!', goes limp, or taps out, the fight is over. Fourth rule: only two guys to a fight. Fifth rule: one fight at a time, fellas. Sixth rule: no shirts, no shoes. Seventh rule: fights will go on as long as they have to,” we see epistrophe in rules three and four as fight is used at the end of both these rules. We also see anaphora as rules five and seven reiterate “fight” at their beginnings. There is also a parallelism throughout these rules that aids in memorization for both film watchers and the members of Fight Club.
            The second monologue that I chose is a sort of call to action that Tyler makes, again in front of fight club. Although this second monologue uses parallelism its tropes are what make it notable. In this speech Tyler uses hyperbole when he calls the members of fight club “strongest and smartest men who've ever lived.” This is used in the intro and perhaps a method to flatter his audience. He uses auxesis calling the men “slaves with white collars.” This makes their station in life seen much worse than it is. This is likely to rile them up so that they will act on his agenda. Finally Tyler alludes to the “Great Depression” of “our” lives and out “Great War” a spiritual war. These allusions have a similar effect to the auxesis.
            By the end of the film there is a desire in the reader to to take on Corporate America a desire to disregard social norms and start fights with our friends. The audience wants to know what it feels like to be as alive as Tyler seems. Here lies the success of the movie. There is an intense reliability, made more impressive by the fact that we, the audience, are relating to a character who is extremely radical in his defiance of the common American ideology. This all speaks to the intensity and mastery of rhetorical devices. 

Spencer A. 

It’s the Difference of Night and Day

          Creative style is used to make a sensible flow throughout a piece of writing. There are so many different rhetorical devices that can be used to do this in an effective way. The First Night by Billy Collins uses multiple of these devices to link together his thoughts. The poem makes an attempt at trying to understand death. Dying is such a dark and twisted topic to dive deeper into through this interesting portal. Collins goes down a path of wonderment trying to find answers to many questions. What is death? What happens after death? Who is most impacted by death? The poem opens up all of these questions and leaves them open to interpretation by the reader. The poem ends by telling readers everywhere to enjoy life while it lasts.
According to poetryfoundation.org, Billy Collins is known for his witty poems that bring about new conversations on topics. Collins tries to understand ideas from different angles and find new ways of thinking and coping. He uses this analysis style in his poetry to keep his readers engaged and thinking throughout his works. Collins tries to write his poems to the person that he imagines he is talking to in the room. He is very careful in the beginning of the poem to try and establish a friendly relationship with the reader. This text is written to involve the writer and reader. The writer is looking to motivate the reader to become consumed with thoughts about death, dying, and those that the reader has lost. From that point, he attempts to create a logical path of thinking from a simple idea of the dead to understanding that the living should be happy with what they have been given in life.
The poem begins with a quote by Juan Ramón Jiménez, another poet. “The worst thing about death must be the first night.” Jiménez sets the tone for the poem with the first question being asked. Jiménez wrote this quotation in a poem that he published while struggling with his father many years after the lost. The author lost his father at the age of eighteen and was left to fend for himself. The pain of this loss was with him throughout his life, but it subsided some in later years. Now we ask, is it the worst night for the deceased or the loved ones left behind? With this question already in mind, the audience is thinking about death and the experiences they have had with it, as they entered into the poem.
Collins uses his classic writing style in this poem like many others to come before and after it. With the help of many devices, he creates a good flow for his reader to follow. Rhetorical devices can be effective when used in a proper way. When looking at a creative style piece of writing, it can be called effective if all of the points are made clear and understandable. Ideas are made clear with a good flow that connects all of the parts together. Some of the devices used are analogy, personification, allusion, and exemplum.
The analogy in the poem is comparing life to death. The title starts this analogy: three words that can mean two things. Is Collins trying to speak on the first night of life or death? Another analogy in the poem dealing with the stages of life is using the word “death” as if it was its own person or being: “will the dead gather to watch them rise and set”.  This is also an example of personification. Do the dead really watch the sun? Do the have day and night? Personification is giving human like qualities to objects that are not humans. This raises the question of are the dead still humans? There are an extraordinary number of questions that are raised from reading this poem.
An allusion is a passive, indirect reference to something in order to bring it to a reader’s mind without explicitly mentioning the thing: such as hell. Collins writes, “then repair, each soul alone, to some ghastly equivalent of a bed.” This excerpt is taken from a stanza evaluating the first night of death for the deceased. Collins is stating his opinion that on the first night of death that the deceased all spend this night in hell; however, this is not said directly stated. This could be for many reasons. Collins may want to leave it open to different interpretations. For example the stanza could be saying that the first night is like hell in the sense that the deceased is miserable since he had to leave his loved ones.
The last of the rhetorical devices used by Collins is exemplum. Simplistically, exemplum is an example. The example made in The First Night is that the living will never be able to understand about death. Collins has a continuous obstacle with understanding death and the unknown of it. Like everyone else who has ever lived, he wants to understand after we go six feet under the ground. Collins writes, “how can I describe a sun that will shine after death?” Something as simply as the sun raises several questions about what is to come with the inevitable. Will there still be sun, light, warmth after death? Exemplum is correctly used to get the reader to examine the differences between life and death.

This poem by Billy Collins uses rhetorical devices in the creative style well. Collins uses many rhetorical devices that establish a movement through the lines to help create unconscious thoughts for the reader. In the beginning of the poem it is not in the readers’ mind to think about what happens after death, but by the end of the poem, Collins has everyone grateful for the things that we get to enjoy while we are alive. The creative style does this by passively moving from one thought to the next and having them connect in a way that a reader doesn’t notice a change in ideas from stanza to stanza. This is a poem that will forever keeping people thinking and questioning death.

E. West

Monday, November 25, 2013

One Inch Tall

“If you were only one inch tall, you’d ride a worm to school…” From the beginning of One Inch Tall, by Shel Silverstein, it’s simple to understand that this method of writing is not formal or official. Silverstein does not require an academic background to comprehend his composition. Instead, he utilizes the creative style to capture his audience’s attention, drawing his readers into a world of literary genius. And what’s even more impressive about Silverstein’s vision – he’s writing for children.
            One Inch Tall, though it may comprise a tiny three stanzas of poetry, packs a powerful punch behind its short phrases. Rhetorical elements such as amplification, parallelism, and alliteration draw out the meaning of the poem into a finely-crafted blend of whimsy and rhetorical exhibition. One may argue that Silverstein’s poem is simply that, a poem. However, as the poem’s structure is broken apart and analyzed, it becomes evident that Silverstein cleverly wove an English lesson into the piece.
Examining the readability score for One Inch Tall reveals that Silverstein was definitely writing for kids. The Flesch-Kincaid Reading Ease sits predictably high, at 91.7 points. Also unsurprisingly accurate is the average grade level of 5.6, at which point children could easily understand the content of the poem. The sentences are short, with an average of only nineteen words per sentence and 3.7 characters per word. With short sentences and simplistic word choice, elementary-aged kids can read and comprehend One Inch Tall without too much hassle. Silverstein purposely uses short words to appeal to his young audience, and proves himself a master of crafting poetry that children would find interesting.
            To begin revealing Silverstein’s motives for writing One Inch Tall, his background and that of his audience must be examined. Shel Silverstein, who unfortunately passed away in 1999, generated an incredible legacy as a children’s author, singer-songwriter, poet, and cartoonist. Some of his most notable achievements include such gems as The Giving Tree and Where the Sidewalk Ends, along with the Johnny Cash song “A Boy Named Sue.” Silverstein discovered his love for writing as a child and fostered that creativity into an illustrious career. As for his audience, Silverstein did not initially focus on children’s literature. He actually worked for Playboy magazine for a while, writing a series of articles about his travels. Later, he decided to start writing for children, which ended up spawning his greatest successes and establishing him as a cherished author.
            One Inch Tall originally appeared in Silverstein’s poetry collection Where the Sidewalk Ends along with many other children’s poems. Each of these poems appeals broadly to kids, with silly titles like The Crocodile’s Toothache and Peanut Butter Sandwich. Young readers, mostly early elementary-aged, find the poems hilarious because of their ridiculous content. Silverstein’s poetry is not meant to inspire deep conversation or make children think too hard in search of the poem’s meaning. Much of this poetry is read in schools, where teachers use it to demonstrate rhyme schemes or basic poem structure. The presentation of Silverstein’s poetry in schools introduces an additional factor to the activity system surrounding One Inch Tall, specifically the teachers working with the children. A teacher’s motive is to instruct and guide students, and for elementary-aged youths, this means helping children develop their understanding of the English language. Basic poetry has been examined in schools for decades as a tool to explore important literary elements, and choosing fun poems makes this educational requirement more bearable for children with fleeting attention spans.
            The fact that Silverstein’s poetry, including One Inch Tall, has been used extensively in schools lends itself to an interesting hypothesis. What if Silverstein knowingly inserted specific rhetorical elements in an effort to teach youngsters under the radar? This postulation garners support when Silverstein’s writing is scrutinized more in depth. Entertaining young readers while slipping in important literary lessons seems brilliant, perhaps something only a celebrated, qualified writer could dare to do.
            Parallelism as a rhetorical strategy plays a huge role in One Inch Tall. This is an example of scheme in the poem, specifically in the area of sequencing ideas. Over and over, Silverstein introduces similar sentence structure, which adds backbone and rhythm to the poem. For example, Silverstein uses the contraction “you’d” multiple times throughout One Inch Tall. Two standout lines read “you’d ride a worm to school” and “you’d walk beneath a door.” Both phrases are sure to inspire laughter in a young audience. Riding a worm and walking under a door provide just enough absurdity to capture children’s attention while still employing a significant rhetorical element. By concealing learning through joking poems, Silverstein masterfully weaves literary lessons into something more than the mundane school lecture.
            Amplification also appears in One Inch Tall consistently, with the main theme of the poem summed up in a single phrase: “if you were one inch tall.” This phrase then continues on to describe various activities that would occur if someone happened to be only one inch tall. The act of repeating this key idea makes it clear that this is the ultimate topic of the poem by using the scheme of elaborating ideas. Thankfully, this phrase is not left by itself repetitively, or the poem would be a boring reiteration of “if you were one inch tall.” Instead, the idea is elucidated more each time, amplifying its effect on the reader. Children especially would enjoy this part of the poem, because it is simple to remember and repeated enough to stick in their minds. For example, if this poem were being read aloud in a classroom, one might picture the teacher reading a phrase and then cuing the students to repeat “if you were one inch tall.” Amplification works to draw attention to the most important theme of a poem, which is evident through this simple phrase.
            Silverstein proves his expertise at crafting lines full of alliteration. Phrases such as “crumb of cake” and “feet in fright” make the poem more fun to read, and highlight the creative element of rhythm. Many of Silverstein’s poems are laden with alliteration, which is common to use when writing for children. The sound of a repeated consonant at the beginning of a word gives voice to the piece. More importantly, alliteration works to capture the reader’s interest in catchy, usually short, idea expressions. This scheme, specifically of using repeating sounds, transforms mediocre writing into something creative and vocal. If Silverstein decided to write “small piece of cake” instead of “crumb of cake,” the poem would have a completely different voice.
            Each rhetorical strategy, parallelism, amplification, and alliteration, accomplishes something unique in Silverstein’s poem One Inch Tall. Though Silverstein writes for children, he cleverly slips in important literary lessons about using these strategies to improve and enhance one’s writing. The creative style relies on these schemes to bring certain elements of voice and flair into writing, though it chooses not to follow conventional rules. Through poetry like One Inch Tall, Silverstein demonstrates that rhetoric can be made approachable and fun for readers of all ages, contributing to the idea that perhaps English does not have to be a dreaded subject for students. Wouldn’t you rather ride a worm to school instead of a boring bus?

By D.M. Cook

The Only One Less Sure than Polonius...is Everyone Else

Perhaps Shakespeare's most famous play, Hamlet has been the center of critical debate ever since its creation. As noted Shakespeare scholar Michael Neill states in his article “Hamlet: A Modern Perspective,” part of what makes Hamlet important is its ability to support wildly different readings, readings which have changed as cultural context has changed. He points out that as schools of literary criticism have changed over the ages, different readings of Hamlet emerge. Most often, this debate centers on what should be considered the 'facts' of the play, most notably, the nature of Hamlet's madness (Neill 320-321). In my own personal experience, I have seen how wildly different people's opinions on Hamlet's madness can be, as my own personal interpretation varied significantly compared to almost every other peer in my undergraduate Shakespeare class. This leads us to question what it is about the nature of Hamlet that creates these wildly different readings, and it can be argued that the answer to this question can be found in the very language of the play.
            Studying the specific figurative language used in the play allows us to see a possible answer for the ambiguity that surrounds Hamlet. The creative style of writing, which can be used to define most fiction writing, including plays and stories, often employs various schemes and tropes that help shape the meaning of the text involved. While tropes focus on creating a variation of meaning for a specific word or phrase, schemes focus on creating variations of standard word orders. Despite their differences, both of these techniques work in ways that help shape meaning in language. Their intention is to create layers of meaning within language, where meaning is dependent on your personal interpretations of how these tropes and schemes interact. Focusing on a speech made by Polonius in Act II, where he claims that Hamlet is mad, we can see how creative variations on language create a sense of ambiguity that leads to arguments over true meaning.
            Literary critics often appear to be wasting their time in attempting to decode exact meaning from certain texts, as many would argue there is no true meaning. However, it could be argued that the goal of literary criticism is to bring to light facts and ideas about human nature that are revealed by literature. This is a main reason that debate continues to be centered on Hamlet and its main character, because understanding Hamlet’s relationship with his mind could help us understand our own views in life. If the main character, who at the outset of the play feels very truly the depth of the human experience, has truly lost his mind, perhaps it is a warning that over-thinking life’s philosophical questions can cost you dearly. And if he hasn’t lost his mind, how can we explain the deep detachment that Hamlet feels to the world in the end of the play? Understanding Hamlet can shed light onto how we as humans deal with the realities and unanswerable questions of everyday life.
            This quest for insight into a personal, difficult topic explains why the ambiguity created by the creative style is important to study in Polonius’ speech, as well as throughout the entire play. If this debate is centered on philosophical, potentially unknowable concepts, then the language used by those involved must aim to invoke inquiry into the topics. A simple re-phrasing of a direct accusation takes what is plain fact and subjects it to questioning and examination. Furthermore, an understanding on such topics could never be agreed upon by all people, which also shows the need for any discussion on the topic to hold an ambiguous aspect. In allowing us to construct our own interpretation of one fictional character, we are given the tools to begin relating these ideas back to our understandings of ourselves.
            In his speech, Polonius uses a large number of tropes and schemes, many of which are very common in Shakespeare's writing, who is renowned for his ability to employ styles in his writing that many others cannot compare to. In this passage, however, the way he employs three specific techniques serve to create the ambiguity that is present throughout Hamlet. He employs two tropes, metanoia and apophasis, and one scheme, hyperbaton, in key moments of the passage, to create that effect. Apophasis refers to stating an idea only for the purpose of denying it, while metanoia is the technique of stating an idea, and then restating it in hopes of presenting it in a clearer manner. Hyperbaton is a scheme which refers to usage on non-typical word order in sentence structures. Studying the lines below, we see these techniques being employed at the moments where Polonius is declaring Hamlet as mad.
I will be brief: your noble son is mad:
Mad call I it; for, to define true madness,                      100
What is't but to be nothing else but mad?
But let that go.
Madam, I swear I use no art at all.                 
That he is mad, 'tis true: 'tis true 'tis pity;                      105
And pity 'tis 'tis true: a foolish figure;
But farewell it, for I will use no art.
Mad let us grant him, then: and now remains
That we find out the cause of this effect,                       
Or rather say, the cause of this defect,                            110
For this effect defective comes by cause:
Thus it remains, and the remainder thus. Perpend
Both instances in which Polonius is making an accusation that Hamlet is mad, he varies his sentence structure through hyperbaton. Instead of following a standard subject-verb-object construction, Polonius places the object first in each case. Instead of reading 'I call it madness,' he states “Mad call I it.” While the two seem to be sending a similar message, by placing the object first, Polonius is taking away the aspect of accusation. With this construction, we no longer have the subject directly accusing Hamlet of madness, it is just implied. In the second instance, Polonius states “Mad let us grant him,” rather than 'Let us grant him mad'. Again, the object has been shifted to the beginning of the phrase, which separates the subject and verb, making it an indirect accusation. This creates a sense of Polonius being hesitant to directly implicate Hamlet as mad, which would have an influence on the audience. If the character who is making the claim is uncertain, that's more than reason enough for an audience to begin doubting the claim as well.
            The tropes used by Polonius also give the audience ways to begin doubting the validity of his claims. Polonius uses metanoia when he states “or rather say,” as well as “Mad call I it; for, to define true madness.”  Polonius is searching for better ways to state his ideas, as if he is not sure whether what he is saying is actually correct or not. This constant re-clarification of his ideas shows Polonius’ uncertainty regarding Hamlet’s madness. Due to this, the audience would begin to doubt whether they actually believe Polonius' claims or not; consequently, the audience would begin to form their own opinions. This idea is further supported by Polonius' use of apophasis in lines immediately after he claims that Hamlet is crazy.
            Apophasis is a technique of bringing up a subject just to deny its existence. In both sections given above, we hear Polonius asking the listener to forget what he had just stated. First, after implicating that Hamlet is mad, he instructs us: “but let that go,” and second, after again discussing Hamlet’s madness, he says: “but farewell it.” If the audience hadn’t already been given enough reason to begin to doubt Polonius, here he is using apophasis to directly ask the listener of his speech to disregard what he is stating. All of this uncertainty created by Polonius means that it is up to the reader to determine their own interpretations.

Is Hamlet crazy or not? Polonius can’t seem to decide, and because of this, it has driven scholars mad for years trying to decide whether his madness is real, imagined, or a cross between the two. The specific ways creative style is being used in the speech shows how easily a few ambiguous phrases can create a sense of uncertainty. This uncertainty is key due to the nature of the idea in question, because whether or not you consider Hamlet as crazy has implications on the ways you interpret your own thoughts in regards to some of the deeper philosophical questions at play in Hamlet. Has the exploration of what comes after death, of what constitutes revenge, and of the purpose of life damaged Hamlet’s mind to the point that it is no longer logical? Or is it all a ploy that he does not have time to retract before the end of the play? Depending on your answer, your personal exploration of these issues will take on different dimensions, and you have to consider whether an answer is possible, or if it is fruitless philosophical searching that will leave you dying without an answer. Due to this, there is no end in sight for the discussion of Hamlet, and there is no hope for a definitive reading on the true nature of Hamlet’s madness. So, just how crazy is Hamlet? 

Written By: Brandon N.

A Modern Day Rhetorician


 The creative style is known for many things, but perhaps the most popular is its heavy use of rhetorical devices.  Jon Acuff, a speaker, author, and blogger, is well acquainted with the creative style.  He also understands quite necessarily that certain tools are required if a successful blog post is to be created.  Acuff writes many blog entries, but the one analyzed for this critique was published on October 28, 2013 and entitled, “The #1 word that kills dreams.” Acuff strategically and skillfully uses multiple rhetorical devices to keep his readers attentive, interested, and to drive home a point that they will not forget anytime soon.
            Jon Acuff is a seasoned writer and inspirational speaker.  He has published four books and is a New York Times bestselling author, as well as speaking at hundreds of colleges, conferences, churches, and companies.  He became popular after his first book and subsequent blog, “Stuff Christians Like.”  Identifying himself as Christian, Acuff believes it is important to find humor in one’s life.
His more recent books relate to motivation, such as his latest entitled, “Start: Punch Fear in the Face, Escape Average & Do Work that Matters.”  He has garnered many followers and fans through Twitter (200,000 followers) and his blog, which is read by over 4 million people.  Such a wide net obviously includes a diverse range of people.  There are Christians, people who love satire, people who enjoy his sense of humor, people who feel motivated by his posts, a mix of any of these (since none are exclusive) and infinitely more types of people who would read his blog.  In general, it is safe to assume that whoever is reading Acuff’s blog is looking for an entertaining, memorable, and motivational note-worthy entry.
They are also looking for positive affirmation.  Acuff is not only motivational, but also optimistic.  He is able to lighten a day through his words, while also providing thought-provoking social commentary.  The difference between Acuff’s writing and those of others is that it is not nearly as negative.  He recognizes the problems of the world, as do his readers, but instead of simply complaining about them he provides solutions, or at least provides a way of looking at the world that is not all doom and gloom. 
The majority of the people who read Acuff then, no matter their nationality, religion, or political views, are those who wish to do something to positively change the world.  They recognize there are problems, but they also recognize there is hope.  Additionally, they appreciate that there is always something to laugh about, even if it is at oneself.  With this audience in mind, Acuff uses several rhetorical devices to successfully reach them.
Two of the most frequently used rhetorical devices, and both used by Acuff, are those of metaphor and parenthesis.  A metaphor is referring to something as if it were something else, making an implicit comparison.  In Acuff’s blog he writes, “Fear is a powerful poison but it’s not the most dangerous toxin when it comes to dreaming.”  Acuff makes a comparison between fear and a poison or a toxin.  While many might agree with this metaphor, it is clearly not literal and makes good use of the rhetorical device. 
Acuff uses metaphor with purpose and intention.  He hopes to enliven the imagination of his readers and keep things interesting.  He may be a blogger, but he is also an entertainer.  It is his job to write interesting and entertaining blog posts.  To accomplish this objective he must use metaphors, and similar rhetorical devices, to keep the post exciting and compelling.  Metaphors also help people relate to the writing, and look at the concept from a different perspective, perhaps not associating the two items being compared before.
Parenthesis is the inserting of an aside into the middle of a sentence or string of sentences.  It is a very natural conversational thing to do.  When people are talking they often - at least it seems often - insert an aside into a sentence.  It makes the writing feel much more informal and spoken, instead of stoic and non-relatable.  Acuff uses parenthesis in the following section: “If we said, ‘I will never chase my dream’ the finality of that would shame us into action.  But we don’t, instead we believe the lie of someday. (Steven Pressfield writes brilliantly about this very thing in The War of Art.).”
            Acuff brilliantly combines metaphor with auxesis simultaneously.  He calls the word he keeps referring to a “dragon” and a “demon lurking just outside your door.”  In addition to being metaphor, the use of this language can also be termed auxesis.  Auxesis is when the importance of something is magnified by referring to it with a disproportionate name.  In this case it is referring to the word “someday” as a dragon and demon.  By exaggerating the comparison Acuff draws significant attention to the word, which helps the reader focus.  This tactic is in line with Acuff’s mission of making the reader remember the blog post as much as possible, as well as his other task of keeping the reader entertained and interesting.
            When Acuff asks the questions, “What dragon is this?  What demon lurking just outside your door?” he accomplishes several things.  First, he maintains the curiosity and interest of the reader.  The demographics of the particular reader matter little.  When questions like this are raised most people are thinking to themselves, “Well, what is it?  What IS the dragon?  What IS the demon?  Just tell me already!”  The use of questions stimulates the reader.  It is doubtful that any reader of the blog was wondering what the demon was after Acuff started talking about a special word, but they were most likely curious as to what the word itself was.  In a fashion that is natural and comfortable, Acuff proceeds to immediately answer.  The sentence following the two questions reads, “It’s the word ‘someday.’”
            Asking questions and then proceeding to answer them is the rhetorical device known as hypophora.  As already explained, this device brings about a more conversational flavor while stimulating curiosity and keeping the reader interested.  You may already be noticing a few patterns amongst the rhetorical devices Acuff used.  Most of them directly relate to keeping the audience captivated, entertained, and/or making the writing memorable.
            Repeating the last word or words of a sentence at or near the beginning of the next sentence can help the reader focus by calling attention to that specific word.  By calling attention to a specific word, it is easy for the reader to acknowledge the word as being an important idea - something they should pay attention to and remember.  The reader’s continuity of thought is maintained with the similar words being reused, and the concept is reinforced by this rhetorical tool known as anadiplosis.  Like the previously mentioned devices, Acuff uses anadiplosis to keep his readers focused and following along with the blog.  It is his intention to have his entire blog post read and remembered, and to do that he must help the readers along so they remember the main idea and do not fall off the track.  During his post, his use of anadiplosis can be seen in the following: “It’s the word ‘someday.’ Someday is where most of us store our dreams.”  Clearly, Acuff is emphasizing “someday,” which makes sense since the entire blog post is about “someday.”  After all, it is a demonic dragon or something of similar comparison.
            While Acuff continues to use several other rhetorical devices, the final one that will be analyzed for this critique will be his use of anaphora.  Anaphora is repeating a word or words at the beginning of successive phrases, clauses or sentences.  Acuff drives home the idea of “someday” by repeating it over and over: “It’s the word ‘someday.’ Someday is where most of us store our dreams.  Someday I will write a book.  Someday I will start a business.  Someday I will ask her out.  Someday I will let him know how I really feel.  Someday I will go on that trip.”
            While anaphora can be an aggressive device, it certainly grabs the reader’s attention by creating a hammering effect.  Grabbing the reader’s attention is precisely what Acuff is striving for in this blog post.
            Although Acuff uses a wide variety of rhetorical devices during the blog post, once analyzed a few patterns start to appear.  Almost all of the devices he uses help to capture the attention of whoever is reading the blog, and drive home the main idea.  Repetition is key, as is making the post sound like a casual and natural conversation the reader is having with a friend.  This natural and repetitive nature is used for the purpose of making the blog post memorable.  Acuff wants readers to remember his post about “someday.”  To make that happen he must make the post easy to follow along with (conversational) and memorable (repetitive, reinforcing).
            The other obvious pattern that arises through analysis is Acuff’s attempts to make his writing entertaining.  By asking questions and then immediately answering them, exaggerating words and their importance (referring to a word as a dragon/demon), and making eyebrow-raising metaphors Acuff creates a piece of writing that is driven by interest and entertainment.  Acuff may be a blogger who is simply trying to do his part to add good in the world, but in order to remain popular he must write pieces that keep readers’ interest.  He is, in effect, an entertainer.
One may wonder how a blogger is able to so expertly interweave his text with classic rhetoric.  The answer is simple: Acuff is an orator.  Just as the classic rhetoricians honed their skills through oral presentation, Acuff has traveled the country giving speeches to a wide variety of audiences.  To be a successful speaker he has to constantly adapt and change for those he is speaking to, and can easily tell whether he is successful or not since the faces of those he is speaking to say it all.
The devices Acuff has learned while speaking, whether unconscious or not, are used to keep the piece entertaining and informal.  Acuff’s writing would certainly be less entertaining if the devices were not used, and if the creative elements were removed.  Contemplating the use of so many devices in so short a blog causes one to wonder whether these types of devices are necessary for the success of a blog.
In this age of the Internet, social media, and instant gratification it is absolutely necessary to keep the attention of one’s audience.  There are a limitless amount of potential distractions for every reader, so how can Acuff keep them reading his blog instead of others?  He is a story teller.
The way Acuff writes could easily be understood as a transcription of a conversation.  While one reads his words it is easy to imagine sitting across from him at a coffee table or listening to him in an auditorium.  This relaxing, conversational style creates an element of humanness that is often so lacking in the current digital world.
Perhaps the excitement of the digital age is starting to wear off.  Perhaps people are starting to realize there is a deep longing for personal interaction.  Reading Acuff’s blog does not meet these needs.  But his style of conversational writing paired with the ability to feel like a part of the conversation by being able to post comments and share with friends creates an illusion that a dialogue is actually taking place.
            The success of a blog does not depend solely on the use of rhetorical devices or making it sound informal.  The success of a blog is dependent on the ability of making the reader feel human, to make the reader feel connected with other readers and with the world around them.  One way to achieve this humanness is through a heavy use of rhetorical devices that lend themselves to conversational flow.  This type of rhetorical usage comes naturally to trained and gifted orators, and it just so happens that Jon Acuff is a trained and gifted orator.

-M.C. Reynolds