For today, there will be a speech (and a song) tomorrow

Philosophy and Rhetoric 41 (4):pp. 311-322 (2008)
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In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:For Today, There Will Be a Speech (and a Song) TomorrowErik DoxtaderFor we see that things that are going to be take their start from deliberating and from acting, and equally that there is in general a possibility of being and not being in things that are not always actual. In them, both are open, both being and not being, and so also both becoming and not becoming. And plenty of things are obviously like this.—Aristotle, De Interpretatione, IX*Wish again, four times again Four wishes deep into the well There's a price to pay for a wish to come true Trade a small piece of your life Roots in soil, uprooting the soil Mountain high, high mountain. The wish is only to speak a kind—Bob Mould, “Wishing Well”This is the time Because there is no time—Lou Reed, “There Is No Time” [End Page 311]The potential of rhetorical culture abides. In the subtle last lines of Norms of Rhetorical Culture, Tom Farrell imbued this potential with the aura of a (double) wish: when read with a forgiving spirit, the value of the “classical rhetorical tradition” appears in its capacity to “restore the power and resilience of the wish in the thought and expression of our civic life” (1993, 320). From within the history of our (not) being together, there are rhetorical goods to (be)come.Wishes must be made. Today, if it is not to betray the fact that a “rhetorical culture is something that must be cultivated,” our inheritance of rhetoric's potential is not a matter of fate. Far from given, although perhaps a gift that speaks volumes about our humanity, its appearance hinges on a choice to “uncover and engender new sources of creative reason” and to do so together, with an appreciation that this shared work is “unmistakably of ethical, aesthetic, and normative significance” (Farrell 1993, 11, 3). Confronted with such a task, as Farrell stressed again and again, “The question is how? How are we to find and develop the capacities that warrant and establish rhetorical study?” (1993, 65). And, from a theoretical and practical perspective, how can we struggle meaningfully with “our own nature as rhetorical creatures: an undiminished capacity to engage limitation through imagination, to find moral content in the experience of the other as audience, and wisdom through the collective production and enactment of logos ” (Farrell 1990, 83)? The rhetorical impulse coincides with the exigency of human experience that remains forgotten and yet unforgettable.1Knocking on modernity's door, Tom Farrell was deeply concerned with rhetoric's manifold potential. Over the course of a prolific career, he pursued the matter with passion, rigor, and integrity. He asked his colleagues, his students, and indeed his discipline to question conventional wisdom about the terms and power of rhetorical theory; interested in both everyday and extraordinary rhetorical practices, Farrell's criticism helped a field to see why its work counted as a vocation at the same time that he reached over the academy's walls in order to suggest that so-called mere rhetoric was quite a bit more complicated and much more important than perhaps some cared to admit. That his vision was compelling is evidenced not least by the numerous awards that he received for his work and the ways in which it continues to inform and shape critical thinking about the art of rhetoric.Just over two years after Tom's unfortunate and tremendously saddening death, this issue of Philosophy and Rhetoric pays tribute to his ground breaking work. Yet, as Farrell himself suspected, the risk that unbridled praise is the short road to bad infinity's silence brings the need for something more. Today, a consideration of his thought and writing demands a space [End Page 312] for critical reflection with practical significance, a forum—in Farrell's sense of the term—that affords an opportunity to ask both whether and how we might understand, extend, and indeed challenge Farrell's contention that rhetoric is the “collaborative manner of engaging others through discourse so that contingencies may be resolved, judgments rendered, action produced” (1990, 83). To these ends, this issue of the...

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Erik Doxtader
University of South Carolina

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