Riffing on Nanian’s diagrams…

I like diagrams

In one of those little epiphanies Tom was talking about, it dawned on me that the earliest formulated sets of rules for blogging were nothing but the age-old Newtonian rules of rhetoric: Clarity, Brevity, and Sincerity (CBS).

One of the unstated rules of Western culture brought out by Lanham in The Electronic Word is that one must “be sincere, whether you mean it or not.” Rhetoric by its oppositional nature is the antithesis to “rules.” It seems little wonder that it wasn’t long before those rules were violated. CBS was quickly sent to hell. Of course sincerity was replaced by timeliness in the “blogging rules,” but with the distortions involved with “web time,” a page that is years old becomes new when cast into a new context through blogging. Rules don’t work for rhetoric; rhetoric only allows for models. And models have an incredible tendency to shift.

On an unrelated note, I was pleased to find out that Marshall McLuhan began as a scholar of Classical Rhetoric: his dissertation was on the rhetoric of Thomas Nashe. While the shifting face of technology is “new” it is also incredibly old. Technology has been shifting for a long time. Viewed philisophically, postmodernism appears to be a radical disruption; viewed rhetorically, it is just an ongoing movement back to humanity’s rhetorical roots.