Sunday, March 29, 2015
"Though our own culture has made a significant shift over to the sovereignty of visual signs and a rhetoric of images as against that of words and speeches, we are nevertheless extremely sensitive to questions of rhetoric and persuasion broadly conceived. Perhaps exploring the ancient problematic in some detail--that is, what did they talk about? when? why? and what went unsaid?--will allow for a revisitation of our own discursive regime and insight into its family tree. Our own cynicism about rhetoric as 'mere rhetoric' and obsession with hypocrisy and manipulation bespeaks an investment, albeit a largely negative one, in the potency of rhetoric. We still cling to the idea that words have power even if the skilled at speaking are no longer assumed to be good men. We worry that essences and appearances have been sundered, and that, ironically, rhetoric really is all too efficacious; while we personally remain unfooled, someone else out there actually has or is likely to fall for all of this."
Erik Gunderson, "Introduction," The Cambridge Companion to Ancient Rhetoric," ed. Erik Gunderson (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009), 21-22.