Commonplace Book: Entry 2: The Conversation

Intro 1:

“The book that follows is about the relationship between public discourse and built space in the contemporary United States. It is about how the physical organization of our neighborhood, cities, and metropolitan areas affects our practices of political expression and debate- the ways we represent our histories to one another, render and negotiate our differences, and determine together our future. It is about how environment influences whom we talk to, what we talk about, and whether or not we value that talking in our hearts and minds. And it is about how those political habits and dispositions, in turn, shape the design of the built world. Using multiple kinds of evidence, I argue that growing spatial stratification of our physical landscape- the decentralization, fragmentation, and polarization of our local geography- is both cause and effect of our increasingly impoverished political relations with one another.” -Preface of City of Rhetoric, by David Fleming

Having read multiple chapters out of this text perhaps I am not the best (unbiased) source to use when speaking on the meaning and format of this paragraph, but I will anyways. I will admit I did read the preface before starting on chapter one, a habit I’ve had since reading The Magician’s Nephew as a child and seeing a forward written by some author or another. To me this paragraph sets up the relationship between the author and the outside world. Though it could be me projecting, I feel as if the author has an almost defensive voice to his writing, as if it had been dismissed multiple times through his life and only now was he allowed to present his full case. Because of this the “they say” of his argument is present only in the subtext. His “I say” is obvious enough, he lays it out as he presents the basics of his idea, but the subtleness of his “they say” is much harder to pick up on. Because of this it doesn’t exactly follow Graff’s set up for a “they say, I say” discourse, but the subversiveness of his statements make it obvious his opinion on “they say”.


Intro 2:

“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in in possession of good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” –Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen

Say hello to one of my favorite lines in literary history. This line is simply a genius. The first time I read Pride and Prejudice I was probably 14, it was the first time I had read a female classical author and it felt as if she was speaking to me and only me. Anyone who says representation isn’t important has obviously had it their entire life, as this introduction of female writing changed by perspective on my place in the world. But that’s for another time. This line, so gossipy but beautifully phased, has a they say enumerated but an I say that is completely opposite. Though it is possible that without proper background knowledge on the time and author the I say of “that’s bullshit” could be overlooked, the tone of the sentence ensures that the reader should at least do a double take on it’s intended meaning. Graff’s form of “they say, I say” is followed to the tee, with a twist that can only be described as a woman’s wit betraying it’s true meaning.

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