Rhetoric of Cool: Ch 5 Commutation

Rice, Jeff. “Commutation.” The Rhetoric of Cool: Composition Studies and New Media.” Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois UP, 2007. 93-110. Print.

steampunk_archive_icon_by_yereverluvinuncleber-d5jsav0“Commutation is the exchange of signifiers without concern for referentiality” (Rice 93).

Barthes defines as “an important writing strategy writers employ to make specific choices regarding meaning construction… ‘artificially introducing a change’ …’observing whether this change brings about a correlative modification’…” of signification (Rice 93).

Meaning systems are not stable. (Rice 94)

In the modern composition classroom, “ambiguity is unwanted” (Rice 94).

Ambiguity is a higher level of writing and reading. I am willing to read ambiguity, if I know it was a conscious choice. I think I will place ambiguity where I place fragments. If you can write papers without fragments, then when you choose to include a fragment, it is a recognizable choice. Ambiguity is acceptable in a composition classroom, as a choice. Not as a requirement, however.

“meaning is not a fixed motion; it is exchangeable” (Rice 95)

“The digital … contests referentiality…. These writers … argue for electronic writing that does not depend on either referentiality nor signification…” (Rice 95)

“Burroughs’s theory is that writing can be cut and exchanged with other writings in order to produce new types of responses, which, in turn, may also be cut up and mixed. In that system, there is little room for Aristotelian hierarchies or topoi. Instead, the cut-up implements a logic of commutation” (Rice 95).

I wrote in the margin: try this–see what happens?… Perhaps I will do that with a post soon.

“electronic communication replaces signification with commutation as a system of exchange” argues Baudrillard (Rice 95)

“Signs have become ‘totally indeterminate…'” (Rice 95)
If so, then how is meaning generated?

“In commutation, referentiality is replaced by a system where signs are exchanged against each other [emphasis added] instead of the real” (Rice 96).

hodgepodge of cool
exchangeable rhetorical act
altered (97)
dynamic rhetoric (98)
Underlining (and then copying) words I like. Does it change meaning?

“limited gesture of commutation” (Rice 99)

“Commutation also positions rhetoric as a manipulative practice. The exchangeability Baudrillard triumphs… is meant to persuade given audiences in a manipulative manner…” (Rice 99).

“the unexpected moves commutation evokes often are not rational or reasonable” (Rice 100)

“changing meanings constitute the text” (Rice 101)

St. Martin’s Guide to Writing says: “Texts in a genre… follow a general pattern” (Axelrod and Cooper 5, qtd in Rice 102).

When they don’t, we must pause to wonder. What about the movie Cloud?

refutes the conventions of representation
minimize dissent
dissent from predictability
“creative transgressions” (Barthes Elements of Semiology 88)
“are readers asked to more actively engage with the commutations” (Rice 103)

“Commutations, on the other hand, confuse and perplex expectations and generate unpredictable transitions” (Rice 105).

“Digital sampling… most recognizable writing space” (Rice 106)

“associations and connotations generated… evoke audience response… . …various levels of meanings distributed… audience reaction” (Rice 107)

“Composition studies is not in the business of producing a consumer-oriented rhetoric” (Rice 107).

“A commutated pedagogy … would… feature a model for composing through a series of commutations…” (Rice 108).

“‘No one knows how to think of such a thing’ is, therefore, a directive for digital writing” (Rice 109).

He mentions an assignment (109-10) in which students create a website with images, texts, and organization of a celebrity of their choice. They mix, cut, and paste. “Quotations, references, collected imagery, found commodities, and personal insight are exchanged… do not reflect the referentiality demanded by thesis-driven assignments… instead they demonstrate and produce rhetorical effect through commutated signifiers” (Rice 110).

rhetorical stance = “how writers negotiate the ways they manipulate subject matter” (Rice 110)

commutation -> “multiple significations presented at once” (Rice 110)

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