Recently, I learned about the Rhetorical Triangle. Recently, I read Daniel Coffeen’s Honest Communication In Relationships, It’s Still A Thing, Right? Recently, I learned (and now apply) the idea that everything is an argument. Let’s get started.
First off, I’ll tackle the Rhetorical Triangle. It surprises me how a triangle in a circle, something so simple, can be applied to
practically everything we do. In fact right now, I’m the speaker, you- the audience, and the Rhetorical Triangle itself- our message. Craziness! I never was someone to “think outside the box”. I usually go along with what I’m told, but heck! Everything. Is. An. Argument. And I, have an argument about this Rhetorical Triangle.
Drawn as a perfect triangle in a circle, this triangle is suppose to be the Holy Grail on which we live our lives. But do lines so perfect and straight contain situations we find ourselves running everyday? Yes and no?
My biology teacher told us that students like to store learnt information in specifically labeled files, but when in fact, everything overlaps. Same with history and math and English and life. Not one event or situation is a stand alone; unconnected to anything else in our lives. Each event is a domino, prompting the next to occur. Each life is universally connected into one huge dominoes falling-effect galore. AND FOR THAT VERY REASON, I have this problem with the Rhetorical Triangle, because you could potentially be more that one part all at once.
Say we’re at a stand-up comedy show. I am the comedian (speaker), you the reader my audience, and my message is a joke I’m about to tell. So I tell my joke, I give my message. But then, our roles overlap for just a split second. I look to you for a response and in that split second I’ve become your audience. And in that split second your response becomes your message to me. And in that split second I am both the speaker and audience and you are both the audience and speaker, and in this whole craziness, we have developed a new message. In that split second.
Now Daniel Coffeen mentions in his blog post about a “beautiful fantasy”. One where everyone is transparent, intellectual, and totally aware. Although an ideal fantasy, I’d have to disagree. I’d love it if everyone was on the same level of intellect and there was no jealousy or hurt feelings or petty elementary playground drama, but that would strip away what makes us humans. While reading the first paragraph of his post, I couldn’t help but think two words over and over again. “The Giver. The Giver. The Giver.” And I’m sorry to say I haven’t read this novel by Lois Lowry but I did see the movie. However, I’m not here to summarize, I’m here to make an argument.
Coffeen does later realize that this fantasy is destructive and I don’t blame him. The other day I had a similar wish after I read essays other students in my non-AP class had written. Disclaimer: I have nothing against non-AP students, I am simply making an observation. Being accustomed to essays that were written for the soul purpose of acing AP exams, I cringed at the broken grammar and ignorance in the essays I read. And I wasn’t transparent with the authors of the essays. I gave a few more points than they probably deserved and I added fewer suggestions than I would in an AP class.
When we got our essays back, one girl said loud enough for the entire class to hear, “WOW. ID number —— is such a harsh grader. Some people try way too hard on these gradings.” Even though the ID number she called out wasn’t mine, I instantly felt bad for the person having to take her passive-aggressiveness. It was at that moment that I wished something like Coffeen’s beautiful fantasy could come into play and fix the essays and raise the awareness of other’s feelings and let me be transparent about my feelings and shut the girl up.
And in a totally non-related but completely related way, I’d like to share this quote from Coffeen’s post that I believe has universal meaning.
“But shit has a tendency to persist despite our best efforts.”
(I’d like to live by that phrase now.)
Honestly, this post was just a “zero draft” for me. Without thinking, I just wanted to respond.
“How you respond is up to you. But silence is not an option.”