amor mundi

Using Technology to Deepen Democracy, Using Democracy to Ensure Technology Benefits Us All

Friday, May 25, 2018

Speaks for Itself

The Way We Live Now

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Hump Day

Back to teaching. We'll begin with the ultimate ethos move, students introducing themselves to the class, a collective trauma to knit a classroom community together in a flash and get everybody accustomed to talking and putting names to faces. Then today's practical workshopping: audience and intentions... What is the text's audience? How do you know? Are you part of it? Does your answer impact the way you read the text? Do you think the author imagined her audience as sympathetic, unsympathetic, or apathetic? What signs lead you to think so? What are the intentions of the piece? What claims are being made? Is there a conspicuous thesis? Do authors really know their intentions? How do texts argue differently when they seek to question conventions, change minds, change conduct, reconcile intractable conflict? Finally, we'll talk about Euripides tragedy Hecuba. A woman at point zero redeems herself through an agentic practice of rhetoric (at the height of which a queen reduced to slavery declares her conqueror the slave), or an almost pornographic spectacle of suffering revealing there is to be no redemption from finitude for anyone, and rhetoric a space of infinite rationalization and cynicism. Yesterday's class went well enough, I find myself in a windowless classroom in a sub-basement of a library building on campus, feeling much more than usually cut off from the world down there. Weird. Students asked questions about the syllabus and course policies so I'm hoping that means I've got a group of talkers this time around. Conversation is so much livelier than lecturing. We'll see how Euripides grabbed them. Tomorrow there will be some group work on Kant and that should be the true test of classroom dynamic this time around.    

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Teaching Day

Teaching day at Berkeley, the first lecture of summer intensives. We'll be going over the syllabus and preliminary definitions (rhetoric, argument, textuality, and so on), and they'll get a first bite at the apple of the premise of the course: that rhetoric/persuasion is not an "outside" or "alternative" to violence, that testament to violence is rendered possible only through a discursive circumscription that is itself a violence, and that the rhetorical tradition is relevant to the work of nonviolence instead because of the rhetorical preoccupation with the traffic between literal and figurative language, which operates in much the same way as (very possibly because it is one and the same as) navigating among alternate regimes of testimony to violence. Class could get out early today -- that would be nice, it would be good to give them extra time to read for tomorrow already -- but it very well might not after all, even on the first day, since there is an awful lot to cover.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Summer Schedule

It's summer and everything is now more intense as summer intensives begin... groceries, exercise, and lecture prep make what would have been a lazy Monday in spring term a fairly frenetic Monday in summer term. Enrollments are pretty high this week, and the schedule is densely demanding, we'll see what the community of the classroom will be like soon enough. Here we go.

Sunday, May 20, 2018


Brunch with Eric this morning at Piedmont Cafe, back to our routine now that summer school is starting back. We walked to the Morcom Amphitheater of Roses again, and two weeks after our last jaunt the place is miraculously twice as stuffed with roses as before. I hadn't thought it possible to top the splendor of the place our last visit. Unbelievable, such a local treasure. Nice to find the place crawling with couples (and we weren't the only queer ones, nicely enough) and lots of singletons and retirees reading newspapers and potboilers. For once it didn't feel like we're the only ones who know about this stunning, quiet, beautiful place.

Saturday, May 19, 2018


Finished Le Guin's last novel Lavinia last night. It was a weird and wonderful read, beautifully written as always and filled with gentle insights. It makes Lest Darkness Fall feel like reading a cereal box. I've still got a final Hainish and Earthsea novels to read, and several others. I started reading and re-reading all her work a few weeks before she died, and I'm sticking with that endlessly rewarding tribute as this summer wears on. I would be hard pressed to pick my favorite of her works, but Left Hand of Darkness and Five Ways to Forgiveness are definitely in the running. I've got the Orsinian novel and tales to wallow around in still, but may go first with Always Coming Home. What a treasure she was, how I treasure her still!

Friday, May 18, 2018

And Just Like That... summer break is up. Handed in final grades for Spring last week. Prepping next week's Berkeley lectures this afternoon. Euripides, Aristotle, Kant, pragmatism, defining the basics: rhetoric, argument, textuality. This course moves swiftly, I've taught it for years and years by now, we'll see if grandpa can still keep up...

Thursday, May 17, 2018


Organizing texts and lecture notes in preparation for twelve weeks of intensives at Berkeley this summer. "What Is Compelling?" (on argument, persuasion, and obligation) and Green Rhetoric (on environmentalist discourses, identity formations, and theories) are both courses I have taught many times before, and yet all teaching feels different to me post health-crisis and post Trump, my confidence is different, my focus is different, my sense of what teaching theory is good for is different. Still feels rather fraught I must say.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Deadline to Register to Vote in the California Primary Is Looming

Monday, May 14, 2018

Syllabus for My First Berkeley Summer Intensive

This time next week I'll be making last minute preparations for teaching this course. My second intensive at Berkeley starts in July, right after this one concludes. That syllabus is coming right up...

Rhetoric 10: The Rhetoric of Argument 
"What Is Compelling? Argument, Reconciliation, Obligation"

Summer 2018, Session A, 2-4.30pm., Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, 150 D Moffit Library

Instructor, Dale Carrico: dcarrico@sfai.edy;;
Course Blog:

Participation/Attendance/In-Class Activities, 25%; Reading Notebook, 15%; Mid-Term Exam, 30%; Final Paper, 5-6pp., 30%. (Rough Basis for Final Grade, subject to contingencies)

Course Description

The arc of the moral universe is a longing... and it bends from just us.

This course provides students with tools they can use to make better, more compelling, arguments and also to read arguments in better, more critical, ways. We will draw the tools for our argumentative toolboxes from the long history of rhetoric, from sophistical dissoi logoi, to the Aristotelian appeals, to Quintilian's four master tropes, to the rich archive of formal and informal fallacies, to argument modeled on litigation via Toulmin's schema, to argument modeled on mediation via Rogerian synthesis, to the pragmatism of the ends of argument. All the while we are workshopping these technical skills we will also be reading and discussing a range of texts that tackle questions of the reach and forms of violence and nonviolence in historical struggle and in everyday life. These texts will likewise draw from a long history, from Immanuel Kant, Martin Luther King, Jr., Frantz Fanon and Hannah Arendt to Arundhati Roy, Judith Butler, and Ta-Nehisi Coates. We will also talk through a play by Euripides, an essay by Nietzsche, a novel by Octavia Butler, a film by Cronenberg… The crucial thing to understand about the course is that we will not be taking on two separate projects, one practical and another theoretical. This course proposes that there is an indispensable relation between the traditional focus of rhetoric as instruction in the art of making compelling arguments and the theoretical preoccupation of many rhetoricians with questions of what violence or compulsion ultimately consists. It is commonplace to see Persuasion offered up as an alternative to the violent adjudication of disputes or hear Argument idealized as a space "outside" of violence. But the truth is that many arguments rely on the acceptance of a violent status quo or depend on conventional assumptions that deny marginal testimonies to violation. Also, many arguments stealthily threaten violence while at once congratulating themselves on their peacefulness. Ultimately, the course proposes that it is rhetoric's definitive concern with the traffic between the literal and figurative dimensions of language and its situated understanding of truth-telling that connects the work of rhetoric with a project of reconciliation that resists violence even as we cannot help but risk it.

A Provisional Schedule of Meetings

Week One

May 22 SKILL SET: Key Definitions
[1] Rhetoric is the facilitation of efficacious discourse as well as an ongoing inquiry into the terms on the basis of which discourse comes to seem efficacious or not.
[2] A text is an event experienced as arising from intention, offered up to the hearing of an audience, and obligating a responsiveness equal to it.
[3] An argument is a claim supported by reasons and/or evidence.
Introductions: Rhetoric as occasional, interested, figurative; The literal as conventional, the figurative as deviant.
May 23 SKILL SET: Reading Critically/Writing Critically; Audience/Intentions -- Audiences: Sympathetic, Unsympathetic, Apathetic; Intentions: Interrogation, Conviction, Persuasion, Reconciliation
Euripides: Hecuba (Here is a link to the last few lines of the play, cut off from the online version for some reason)
May 24 SKILL SET: Aristotelian rhetoric; Ethos, Pathos, Logos; Writing A Precis
Immanuel Kant, Idea for a Universal History with a Cosmopolitan Purpose

Week Two

May 29 SKILL SET: Four Habits of Argumentative Writing: 1. Formulate a Strong Thesis, 2. Define Your Terms, 3, Substantiate/Contextualize, 4, Anticipate Objections; Performativity
Thomas Jefferson, The Declaration of Independence
May 30 SKILL SET: The Toulmin Schema
William May, "Rising to the Occasion of Our Death" (In-Class Handout)
Arundhati Roy, War Is Peace
May 31 SKILL SET: Rogerian Rhetoric
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Letter from the Birmingham Jail
Logan Rimel, My "Nonviolent" Stance Was Met With Heavily Armed Men

Week Three

June 5 SKILL SET: Logoi Dissoi
Henry David Thoreau, Civil Disobedience
Angela Davis, selections from Are Prisons Obsolete? Chapters 1, 2, 6
June 6 SKILL SET: Propositional Analysis; Enthymemes, Syllogisms, Formal Fallacies, Informal Fallacies
June 7 SKILL SET: Literal/Figurative Language; Figures, Tropes, Schemes; Four Master Tropes
Nietzsche, On Truth and the Lie in an Extra-Moral Sense

Week Four

June 12 Mid-Term Examination
June 13 Screening and Discussion of the Film, "A History of Violence," dir. Cronenberg
June 14 SKILL SET: Debate
Correspondence of Tolstoy and Gandhi
Jane Addams, New Ideals of Peace: Passing of the War Virtues

Week Five

June 19 Frantz Fanon, Concerning Violence from The Wretched of the Earth
Ta-Nehisi Coates, The Atlantic, The Case for Reparations
June 20 Hannah Arendt, Reflections On Violence and "Must Eichmann Hang?" (In-Class Handout)
June 21 SKILL SET: Workshopping Final Paper: Producing a Strong Thesis; Anticipating Objections; Providing Textual Support

Week Six

June 26 Octavia Butler, Kindred (Purchase in time for class.)
June 27 Judith Butler, from Undoing Gender, Ch. 1, "Beside Oneself," pp. 17-26, roughly, and the concluding chapter of Precarious Life, pp. 128-151.
June 28 Rob Nixon, Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor. Final Paper Due

Friday, May 11, 2018

"Unintended Consequences" In Tech Discourse

I thought this exchange was a useful one:

Yep, That's About The Size of It

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Legalize Recreational Cannabis Everywhere

Tuesday, May 08, 2018

No, You're Not The Only One Thinking It...