When you are a Star Trek fan among other Star Trek fans the first question is which is your favorite? TOS,TNG DS9, Voyager or Enterprise. I don’t even know why Enterprise is an option, but it is. Even if TOS (The Original Series) isn’t your favorite you have to respect and appreciate it because none of the other series would exist without it. And that’s how I feel about classical rhetoric – can’t hate it, it’s created me. But it’s not my favorite; I’m a TNG girl.
So I really appreciated reading Bartsch and Barnes and they are sort of my TNG rhetoric equivalent (though I know this metaphor doesn’t fully work – can’t work for rhetoric because it’s been around for so long…). Looking at Tacitus’ Dialogus through their eyes was much more entertaining for me. Or I should say, made Dialogus more meaningful for me.
From Bartsch’s chapter “Praise and Doublespeak” I see Tacitus’ writing in a way that is more my own language. What is happening is the romanticizing of the way things were: why aren’t there awesome orators like in the good ole days? Tacitus’ writing could be almost satire, and to an “active” audience for Dialogus or if read as interacting with an active audience. Recall “theatricality” of his writing – what we read from Bartsch las week – also way back in the beginning of this semester we started with Tacitus – political yet safe commentary.On this line of thinking Bartsch also asks when Tacitus writes of the death of the poet Maternus – is he sincere or no? real or no? Tacitus is, either way, his writings/plays/poetry and example of doublespeak (115).
From Barnes’ perspective I like how it’s all meta – like a big ole inside joke if you know all the layers – Tacitus messing with fellow academics Quintilian and Messala. I read Barnes’ interpretation, narration and again I just think of Dialogus being a ‘back in the good ole days we had REAL orators’ speech. But not only that how it is an early story of what happens to me in academia today.
You see it turns out when I was sick and reading my professor’s blog that he loves classical rhetoric – and is a TOS guy, as it happens. My chair for my committee gets all starry-eyed talking about the classical rhetoricians; they were rock star equivalents because that’s how loved and respected rhetoric used to be. I would say both men in my life and education not only worship the old rhetoricians – TOS – but believe that an old-fashioned education can still produced old-fashioned, and awesome, rhetoric and writing (238). I’m not passionate about classical rhetoric I realize, as I complete my last reader-response post. But I am passionate about rhetoric the next generation(s).