Several classes in during this term, I found myself remaining somewhat confused about what Rhetoric truly was. For me, I didn’t gain a deeper understanding of the concept or application until we began studying Cicero and Rhetoric in Ancient Rome. As put by Cicero himself, Cicero himself writes in “De Inventione,”There was a time when men wandered around in the fields in the manner of beasts, and sustained life on wild food; they did nothing by the reason of mind, but by bodily strength.” He continues, “a great man, becomes aware of man’s potential and he compels and gathers the men scattered in the fields in one place by means of reason and speech. Eloquence is thus the original transporter of men; it collected them in the first political society. Without its power, politics is literally unimaginable.” Is it rhetoric that separates us from the “beasts”? Furthermore, it was Cicero’s description of the process of rhetoric through the terms, inventio, dispositio and elocutio. While rhetoric certainly existed in one form or another before Cicero, he did the world (and me) a great favor in mapping it out!
“Selfie?” “Selfie?” The man screams from a few feet away. He moves in closer, until you are almost face to face. “Selfie? Good price!” Another, seemingly interchangeable man awaits you about 6 feet away, “Boom shaka laka laka laka. Selfie?” As he readies to shove the same selfie stick in your face that he witnessed you refuse from his colleague just a few moments prior. While crass, and in very poor taste, this reminded me of our study of rhetoric. These “salesman” are attempting to persuade the customer to purchase one of their selfie sticks. While noting first the factor of competition of multiple selfie stick salesman per street corner, their endeavors seem to be less than fruitful. Unlike the refined rhetoricians we have been studying in class, these man lack the eloquence and finesse to persuade. The go for a more bold, in your face, and pushy sales method, which seems to fall short the vast majority of the time.
Communicating in Siracusa was tough, especially due to my knowing very little Italian. We had to learn how to communicate beyond words, incorporating rhetoric. For example, one day we went out for lunch to a small bakery around the corner from the hotel. As we attempted to listen to one of the employees explanations about the different types of pizza, we came across a word we didn’t understand. “Melanzana,” the man said. Our puzzled expressions must have given us away because the man help up his index finger to signal us to wait a minute. He reappeared a few seconds later with a huge eggplant the size of my head. “Eggplant!” We exclaimed. It was interesting to note how humans have so many tools at our disposal to communicate with each other, beyond languages. Objects, gestures, mad expressions seem to get the job done well enough if necessary.
Are some majors “real” majors while other majors are “fake” majors? The simple answer? Who cares. College students today are too hung up on “majors.” I don’t understand the fixation with proving that one major is somehow more tangible than any other major. A degree is a degree, unless you are studying something so specific that no other degree could possibly suffice (i.e. nursing). People skills and experience, as well as charm and work ethic will take you much farther than what field of study is scrawled on your degree. I am so sick of hearing that my courses are “easy” and that making Dean’s List is no big deal “for an English major.” If you are so peeved about it, maybe you should rethink your major and stop worrying about mine.
Today, class was a bit different than usual; as opposed to starting class with a discussion, we took a literacy quiz and then discussed the responses and what exactly literacy is. When the first question of the quiz was read, I was confused because the question did not relate to the readings that we were assigned. As each of the fourteen questions were read, it became apparent to me that these questions were not related to the readings and they seemed fairly random. When we were told that this was a literacy test, I was shocked. I did not know a majority of the answers to the quiz and did not understand how that could represent illiteracy. Out of the fourteen questions, I was able to confidently answer five of them. To me, this literacy test is not accurate and it is extremely difficult to assess whether or not a person is “intelligent.” Some may say that an individual needs a college degree to prove his/her intelligence. I find this to be very untrue. There are many types of intelligence, such as book smart and street smart. My dad, a business owner, has a high school diploma and attended Brooklyn College for one semester. Although my dad never received a college degree, he is extremely successful and intelligent. My dad exemplifies what it means to be “street smart”; however, he also is very “book smart,” despite his lack of college education. I do not think intelligence can be described in a single definition due to its complexity. Individuals can express his/her intelligence in different manners and therefore, there is no universal definition of intelligence.
Today in class, we had a discussion about the ideas of “real” and “fake” majors. This is a topic that has always interested me greatly, as I have heard this argument many times before. Personally, I have even heard that my major is one of these “fake” majors. Being a communication major, I am constantly asked what my major even is or what one would do with such a major. I have even been told that my major is easier than some of the others offered at our school, which is one of my biggest pet peeves. Just because my major may appear to be less work to outside people, does not mean that it is. Students from other majors will never understand what exactly goes into each major. I believe that every single major is a real one, and the idea of fake majors is completely made up. Each major has a purpose and its own requirements, and with the same amount of credits needed to graduate. This in itself makes all majors equal and none should be considered superior to another one. Each person has their own way of thinking and learning, which is why they chose the major that they do. With this choice, students should not have to hear their majors discredited or put down, with terms such as “fake majors.”
In class, we had an interesting discussion on what makes someone intelligent. This is not an easy thing to decide, as the idea of intelligence is not black and white. There is not a universal definition or an idea that is agreed on by everyone in the world. Instead, the idea of intelligence is different to each person. To some people, being intelligent means being educated and having gone through many years of schooling. To others, it means being able to communicate effectively with the people around you. However, I do not think it is that simple. Some of the most intelligent people in this world are not educated, from not graduating college to not finishing high school. This could be because of personal choices or because they did not have the means to do so. Also, I do not believe it comes down to communication. Many people with different communication disorders are more intelligent than people without; they just might have a harder time explaining themselves to others. Steven Hawking’s was the example that we used in class of a very intelligent man with the inability to speak. This is why I think intelligence is a mix of different things. While being educated and having good communication skills helps intelligence, so does having life experience and knowing a large range of different things. There is a lot that goes into a person’s intelligence. Intelligence is not something that can easily be measured, or even easily defined.