Archive for pathos

Zoning the Eastside: Public Pathos and Distributed Emotion (Essay in progress)

NOTE: This essay is being written online as we speak. It is currently in its developmental stages, so please forgive the mess.

It was late one summer afternoon, many years ago. I sat in an apartment hunter’s office, where he had spread open a large map in order to show me the neighborhoods in Austin where affordable housing could be found. “Of course,” he said, “you don’t want to live east of I-35.” He pointed to the highway on the map, and then to the neighborhoods running east of the thin line representing the massive freeway. “It’s just not a very nice place to live.” The phrase rang in my head immediately: east of I-35. It was such a concrete marker to observe. I would later hear the same kind of warning many other times throughout my life in Austin. Even after I rented a house on the eastside, friends
would take comfort in knowing that I was not living “too far east.”
… continue reading this entry.


Meaningful structure

Pathe (like guilt) provide a structure within which to organize discourse, giving it meaningfulness and shape.

Modern rhetorical theory often imagines pathos as a kind of personal prod; it is a tool that goads another body into action by playing on their emotions. I dub this version “personal pathos” for its focus on the triangulated relationship seen above.

However, pathe have a more public life beyond the triangle. As we can see in the example of carbon guilt, pathos can circulate apart from any particular agent and without a fixed destination, such as a targeted audience. The pathe of carbon guilt is spurred on by the individual discourses of political and commercial interests, of course, but the larger accretion of such discourses forms a public rhetoric that moves apart from those smaller discourses.

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