September 16, 2012

Agency is Also, a Neccessary Liar

For the sake of understanding Rhetorical action, I guess the point of Campbell's argument (for class) was that a text can become an agent, or have agency.


What I found more interesting was that she seems to quantify Agency on a level of what is "better," or what is "worse." I guess the definitions I want to use here for those words is based in, what was more effective, or which agency had the greater effect. Campbell, after exercising her agency in rewriting the speech in a more accurate manner, came to the realization that the effect of inserting the truth (or something closer to it) actually harmed Truth (the person) and her message. In contrast, Gage's agency turned the women's rights message into political activism for abolition. It was the switch in agency on part of the scriptor that seemed to govern clear differences in level of effect. And, since Campbell had revised this later in history, the switch in agency seemed to threaten the power and discourse behind the message.

It's out of this preference, in part to preserve the agency of Gage's transcription, that brings up the concept, and predilection for, the healthy lie.

Granted, the lie does not lay in exactly what happened, but in the case of Truth, how it happened. Obviously, that Truth did not speak like that, brings up a swathe of implications on part of Gage, but also gave it greater effect, audience, power in its discourse, and function from an author standpoint. Agency then, seems to transcend the values of truth and fiction, as long as it promotes a greater situational "good" (in Aristotle's terms) in the narrative-dramatic form. Campbell is correct in saying that the agency's effectiveness of narrative-drama lies in its "performative power to be reenacted" (Campbell 7), but I would like to offer up a secondary clause to the statement more specific to her paper; that power and effectivity are not goverened by simple reproduction, but purposeful insertion of small healthy lies and falsivities that either help convey the original message, and/or coherently transform it into a poly-faceted statement that opens up the realm of up-take for what Ong refers to as Audience, and reinforces, if also misappropriates, its original text for greater, and more diverse situational good.

1 comment:

Zach van Dijk said...

I definitely agree with your conception of "the beautiful lie," used as a means to better convey a message, even if altering reality to some degree. As a reader, viewer, listener I know the more sensationalized story always wins, a more embellished depiction is more entertaining. Why do you think Hollywood always alters the facts ("based on a true story")? I feel that in certain circumstances the beautiful lie is essential, that most rhetorical appeals use some degree of embellishment to drive home a point. The reader doesn't want truth, they want impact.

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