Monday 6 April 2015

A Short Rhetoric for Leaving the Family by Peter Dimock

I wanted to read this again because I'm looking for a form of speech, a persuasive tone for a letter I have to write but have no idea how to begin. If you set up the conditions for something to be said, if you assemble your examples and your images, establish your tone and explain why you are writing, by the end of the book it is said: a father's pernicious involvement in the Vietnam war as security advisor, his elder son who did the right thing, and more, the younger son's resistance and now his bequest to two boys, one his nephew, who may, when they are old enough to comprehend what sort of family they belong to, want to leave it.

By the end of the book you have a sense of the material in hand; though the structures of rhetoric and the injunctions to practise it, you feel the writer's unequivocal horror. If you then watch The Deer Hunter, the horror increases.

I want to write a letter to persuade a man to sell me a field in order that I might rescue it from agriculture and plant trees in it.  There is no comparison.  I left the family a long time ago. No horror, or none that is visible to the naked eye. Or maybe there is. Rhetoric does not discriminate. Agriculture does. And war. And justice.
In some careful, pleasured tone, practice the art of direct address, taking full advantage of the vocative. Above all, do not be embarrassed or reluctant to use it for your own enjoyment.
Rhetoric involves flying kites in clear blue air and the idea of it afterwards. You're going to love it.

No comments :

Post a Comment