Art of Rhetoric, The

Rhetorical questions are not withstanding–do not take the time to think of an answer, or even a response to any rhetorical question posed herein. Posture tells a lot about you, I have heard. Pose is an accurate way of describing the questions–they are posed as nudes are posed, and they are not naked as nakeds are not posed. All of this is a matter of the aesthetic position, another way to pose or not to pose the final question about art, and all writing does question the aesthetics of writing as much as it does the form of writing, which always questions matters of style, of voice, of diction, of simpler matters of grammar, more importantly rhetoric, always a chief consideration is this thing, rhetoric; or, as Aristotle set down nearly twenty-five hundred years ago, the art of discourse, yes, art. Rhetoric is a liberal art and should be understood as such and pursued as such; yet, we do not, having discarded rhetoric as a time-worn and irrelevant demand from a bygone age.

Let it suffice to say, as I have said before and will likely say again and again in the future–this Review is a literary review, and by that, I mean the essays contained within are literature, of course, itself, by the rhetorical standards of my contemporaneity, pretentious? I am genuinely asking because I have seen style shift, style change, for whatever genre is being written . . . But what do I mean by literature? I would have to say something about this. Do I mean the result of a higher election in Letters? Now that would have to be explained. I often avoid explicating my literary truths, or should I say, Literary Truth? I am with Keats on this, that Beauty is Truth and Truth Beauty–I do understand that there is more in the cosmos of literary values and evaluation, than could be dreamed by any one of us, even those of us who are highly literary to the point of themselves being literature. When Salvador Dali was asked if he were a Surrealist, he responded by saying I am not a surrealist; I am Surrealism. Something of this exists for most artists who know what the best and most astute critics know about their work, who understand things about their art no one can. Picasso did not need his critics to affirm for him what he needed to know to be able to produce as he did, what he did, how he did. If Picasso needed the critics for him to understand what he could do, he would have never done what he did.

I do know that there are representations of literary excellence that are not bound by my preferences or what I like. I will never like Browning the way I do Keats, but I also understand why and how Browning is a major poet in the way Keats is a major poet. I also understand why his work was and has been appraised as it continues to be. I do know why he is a great poet even if my preferences are for others. What one likes is not the basis for any subtracting critique–although, we often indulge this as humans, as Americans we too often engage this kind of critique.

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