A nice reading

Stanley Fish and I don’t agree about everything (or, really, much at all), but I think he makes some nice points about Obama’s speaking style in his recent article.  Parataxis is something I love about poetry and even about some of my favorite experimental novels.  Beautiful beads are set out, one by one, and there’s a lot of flexibility in the way the reader or listener strings them together, the connections he sees among them.  It’s not, however, how I like my arguments to run.  Political speech seems always on the verge between the two: much “arguing” goes on between politicians that seems more like a reading of poetry by each than actual back-and-forth about issues.  Fish uses “parataxis” where I have always described political speech as the “wait for the applause after each clause” rhetorical style.  I suppose his term is actually in the dictionary, but it’s one that would make my students yawn.


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