Jim Corder as an Ethic for Blogging

Today I presented Jim Corder's "Argument as Emergence, Rhetoric as Love" to my expository writing class. I believe Corder's propositions for "writing with love" serve as particularly apt principles for approaching digital writing. Corder pushes for five core values:

  • The writer is exposed "...the arguer is alone, with no assurance at all that the other or any audience will be kindly disposed")
  • All writing is provisional ("we can learn to dispense with what we imagined was absolute truth and to pursue the reality of things only partially knowable")
  • Writers are not authorities ("an authoritative position, anyway, is a prison both to us and to any audience")
  • All writing by nature closes, we must work to attempt to keep it open ("Each utterance may deplete inventive possibilities if a speaker fails into arrogance, ignorance, or dogma. But each utterance, if the speaker having spoken, opens again, may also nurture and replenish the speaker's invective world and enable him or her to reach out around the other")
  • Writing should be both personal and thoughtful--not detached, objective, or positively referential ("we must rescue time by putting it into our discourses and holding it there, learning to speak and write not argumentative displays and presentations, but arguments full of the anecdotal, personal, and cultural reflections that will make us plain to all others, thoughtful histories and narratives that reveal us as we're reaching for the others.")

As I was reading Corder today, I couldn't help but notice how much he shares with Levinas, especially in terms of fragmenting the stability of the subject-writer, of indebting the composition of the subject-writer to the author. Of thinking of writing other(than)wise.

I also find it interesting that, writing in 1987, Corder sees technology as speeding up time (he cites electronic mail as an example). I argue the opposite: that forums and especially wikis create a new lived experience of time. This new time somewhat (not completely) outs writing from time--frees us for contemplation and reflection.

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