Afterword

In Chapter 10 “Afterword”, David Fleming concludes his book by hoping that in the future the forces that keep us apart and repress our public life will be overcome. More specifically, he places the future of our public life on the youth. For example, Fleming theorizes that if the youth is taught not only the benefits but the tools to create a strong public then in the future they will demand one. From this, Fleming suggests that the current public and their “solutions” is not able to help the rehabilitation of our public life. For Fleming, then, the youth represents possibilities for experimentation and initiative that he hopes will turn out be successful.

Works Cited

Fleming, David. “Chapter 10 Afterword .” City of Rhetoric: Revitalizing the Public Sphere in Metropolitan America, SUNY Press, Albany, NY, 2009, pp. 211–214.

Space Generates Opportunity

Shops on Milwaukee Avenue in Wicker Park, an affluent neighborhood in the Chicago community of West Town.
Shops in the Chicago Lawn, the ‘guetto’ of Chicago.

In chapter 8 “Toward a New Socialspatial Dialectic” of City of Rhetoric, David Fleming rhetorically explains the idea that space matters because the organization of it can lead to an equal field of opportunities for all individuals to express their rhetorical voices. More specifically, he argues that there exists a link between individual’s environments and their opportunities. For example, Fleming exposes that one side of the conversation believes that all environments are different and as such provide the individuals whom inhabit them different resources that determine their success. Fleming sides with this view because it explains the unequal distribution of opportunities for individuals. For Fleming, then, designing spaces that provide equal opportunities for individuals increases their possibility for success.

Why should creating an even playing field for individuals matter? The reorganization of spaces that provide all socioeconomic individuals equal opportunities contributes to eradicating the greater thought that chronic poverty is causes by poor individuals themselves. Even though creating spaces that even the playing field doesn’t guarantee the eradication of poverty it increases the chances for its decrease.

Works Cited

Fleming, David. “Chapter 8 Toward a New Socialspatial Dialectic.” City of Rhetoric: Revitalizing the Public Sphere in Metropolitan America, SUNY Press, Albany, NY, 2009, pp. 179–194.

(Original Text with explanation of what was changed can be found below)

Continue reading Space Generates Opportunity

The Rhetoric of Mixed-Income Communities

Northtown Village mixed income housing development. Source here.

In chapter 6 “The New Urbanism” of City of Rhetoric, David Fleming explains the idea of the economically diverse urban village in Chicago. More specifically, Fleming argues that mixed-income urban communities (created to avoid conflict by walling out differences) are based on unrealistic dreams of social harmony. For example, he shows that reports on the success of mixed-income communities show that communities are biased toward high-income residents especially when the success of mixed-income development plans relies not only on the rich but on low income residents meeting the standards of higher-income residents. With this, Fleming then suggests that the mere foundation of mixed-income urban communities does not allow for social harmony. For Fleming, then, building communities amongst diverse people is not the answer for avoiding conflict because it creates inequality instead of harmony.

Why does this matter in a broader context? If we define that a healthy public life is the goal in a broader context then the building of communities that absorb the diversity among its individuals (that intend to stabilize conflict but instead have the opposite effect) place us farther away from achieving this goal. Promoting mixture instead of difference increases inequality and conflict and in turn decreases the number of interactions between people that leads to a healthy public life.

Works Cited

Fleming, David. “Chapter 6 The New Urbanism.” City of Rhetoric: Revitalizing the Public Sphere in Metropolitan America, SUNY Press, Albany, NY, 2009, pp. 121–148.

 

Buffalo

 

“Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo [buffalo] Buffalo buffalo”

buffalo = doer, noun

[buffalo] = doing, verb

This heavily parsed but grammatically correct sentence, created in 1972 by William J. Rapaport, employs the various meanings and parts of speech for the word “buffalo”. It uses the word buffalo as the city, the animal, and the verb to bully. The sentence reads that buffalos who are bullied by buffalo are themselves bullying bison.

The [buffalo] from Buffalo who are buffaloed by buffalo from Buffalo, buffalo (verb) other buffalo from Buffalo.

Buffalo buffalo (subject and main clause) [that] Buffalo buffalo (subordinate clause) buffalo (verb and subordinate clause) buffalo (verb and main clause) Buffalo buffalo (main clause).

David Fleming concludes his City of Rhetoric by arguing that “education [should be] oriented to the ‘strong publics’ of decision making rather than the ‘weak publics’ of opinion formation” (205). For Fleming, then, composition courses, which traditionally have asked students to write as spectators, should instead have students problem solve.  In other words, education should teach students to use language to effectively present their opinions so they can then responsibly resolve conflicts that arise from their opinions instead of choosing people to resolve conflicts for them. By supplying students with what Fleming calls the procedural knowledge they can evaluate evidence and make coherent claims supported with reasons. For instance, students who posses these skills can effectively take William J. Rapaport’s heavily parsed sentence and evaluate how its form and what it means.  

I believe that Samuel R. Delany employs the use of Pathos in his documentary to explain why he has every student raise her hand when he asks a question. He tries to convince his audience of his method by creating an emotional response to the importance of recognizing self worth in the classroom. Watching the video rather than reading the prompt definitely gives the reader a clearer indication of this because in the video Professor Delany gets emotional when delivering his argument.

Segregation Lead to An Ill Public Life

 

The image depicts a public shared space where individuals can exercise politics to enrich public life.

In chapter four “Ghetto” of City of Rhetoric, David Fleming discusses a healthy public life. More specifically, the controversial issue of whether homogeneity leads to dehumanization. On one hand, Chicago’s whites argue that the homogeneity or segregation of the city is an achievement for white civic life. On the other hand, however, the author, David Fleming contends that segregation is not conducive to a healthy public life because it does not allow for safe spaces of public debate. For example, one of this views main proponents, Massey and Denton, write, “People growing up in such an environment have little direct experience with the cultures, norms, and behaviors of the rest of American society and few social contacts with members of other racial groups”. In this passage, Fleming suggests that segregation dehumanizes individuals by teaching them to avoid other individual’s affairs. For Fleming, then, what is at stake here is the dehumanization of all segregated individuals that in turn promotes the decline of political and social participation.

Why does this matter then? In a larger context, the dehumanization of individuals by means of homogeneity or segregation is what contributes to an ill public life. A healthy public life, according to Fleming, is achieved when spaces allow for individuals to exercise politics.  Place or locality plays a big role in this because spaces that work to categorize people also create universal truths in those specific contexts. However, segregation does not allow for a common space where all these different categories of individuals can come together and diversify their universal truths.

Works Cited

Fleming, David. “Chapter 2 ‘The Placelessness of Political Theory.’” City of Rhetoric: Revitalizing the Public Sphere in Metropolitan America, SUNY Press, Albany, NY, 2009, pp. 19–35.

American Civic Identity

In discussion of American civic identity, a controversial issue has been whether cognitive-affective characteristics (advocating for certain values and principles) or ascriptive characteristics (race, gender, social status) are the determinant of it. On the one hand, most endorse that the civic identity of Americans is best defined by cognitive-affective characteristics; in other words, their identity is defined by shared political principles and values instead of by traditions of inegalitarianism . From this perspective, they believe that each citizen is politically equal meaning that ascriptive characteristics are forgotten upon entering the political arena. On the other hand, however, David Fleming argues that in history Americans have never been able to ignore personal and social attributes and that we shouldn’t want to. In the words of Fleming, one of this view’s main proponents,

“To bracket differences does not in fact lessen their effect; it perpetuates the very inequalities that bracketing was meant to set aside, the claim of neutrality allowing its advocates to pretend that privilege no longer functions when in fact it has now been made implicit and inexplicable and thus more powerful and pernicious (Fleming 22)”.

According to this view, bracketing inequalities does not eliminate them but highlights them contradicting it’s whole purpose. In sum then, the issue is whether citizens can and should transcend inequalities when facing each other politically.

My own view is that since the state is a creation of the people and not the other way around then the people shouldn’t have to bracket their identities for the state. Though I concede that American citizenship is founded on the ideal principle that every citizen has an equal voice, I still maintain that the inequality of voices is what makes the citizen equal. Although some might object to the incorporation of ascriptive characteristics in politics, I would reply that these political communities who advocate universal human rights were created in the first place by citizens who understood the importance of context and thus were not disembodied from their identities. The issue is important because our current political government is based on the principle that people will forget traditions of inegalitarianism and become unbiased decision making citizens and I believe that it is clear that the American citizen is not an unbiased one.

Bibliography

Fleming, David. City of rhetoric: revitalizing the public sphere in metropolitan America. Albany, NY: SUNY Press, 2009. Print.

City of Rhetoric: Introduction Analysis

In David Fleming’s book: City of Rhetoric, Fleming argues in his Introduction that built environments that promote conflict and in turn language matter because our current anti-urban society promotes movement to superficial spaces where uniformity has painted conflict as the root of inequality, when if allowed conflict fosters harmony amongst inequality. In discussions of the relationship of language and the built environments in contemporary United States, one controversial issue has been how anti-urbanism has lead to privatism or communities of what the author calls the “like-minded” and how it has made cities anti-political and anti-rhetorical impoverishing political discourse.  One the one hand, anti-urbanists argue that as long as individuals with different views stay segregated conflict does not need to occur which means that they argue that avoiding diversity means harmony. On the other hand, Fleming contends the need for a public philosophy that says that difference is good and not bad and encourages conflict and enriches public discourse which brings us harmony.  In his Introduction the author not only outlines the three main sections of his book but he exposes that in order to achieve a political and rhetorically built environment current built spaces (which history demonstrates have exhibited plasticity over the years) must be re-designed to break privatism so that not only is public rhetoric encouraged but we have environments that make it unavoidable.

City of Rhetoric: Preface Analysis

In David Fleming’s book: City of Rhetoric, Fleming argues in his Preface that the revitalization of civic life or the redesigning of built environments is an essential project that will correct our increasingly impoverished political discourse. In discussions of the revitalization of civic life, one controversial issue has been the trend of anti-urbanism where people act on their secessionist impulses following the line of thought that a space should be apolitical and politics ageographical.  One the one hand, anti-urbanists (people who fled urban centers) argue that the urban forms of human contact, which promote sameness instead of difference, are the answer to the increase in “chaos” that the diversification of cities brings. On the other hand, Fleming contends that the anti-urbanist trend was and is a mistake because in order to “fix” the “chaos” it encourages built environments that are stratified by family status, race, age, and ethnicity and in turn this discourages collaboration and hinders public discourse which Fleming argues is ignoring the responsibility that we have towards the world and the people we cohabitate with.  Fleming maintains that for public discourse to flourish a space cannot be apolitical and politics cannot be ageographical because public discourse flourishes in built environments or spaces where individuals learn to deal with the chaotic world they hold in common collaboratively instead of separately. In his preface, Fleming sets the stage for his book by demonstrating the important connection between public discourse and built environments by explaining to the reader how the anti-urbanist movement is the cause and effect of our progressively impoverished political relations with each other and how the revitalization of civic life (redesigning diverse urban built environments that manage social differences without separation or assimilation but collaboration) is the way to correcting this impoverishment.