1) History Hidden in Plain Sight

Lexi Yost. “Battered Columns.” Dublin. Ireland, 2016
In the heart of Dublin, we reached a building with huge, thick marble pillars, and a gold plaque boasting the title: “The General Post Office”. Still used as a post office today, the Romanesque-building was appealing to my architecture-loving eyes, and I quickly snapped a few pictures of it like the one pictured below.20160724_112748 Like much of the architecture in Dublin, this building was gorgeous. As we stood on the pavement and took pictures of the pillars and methodically precise stonework, the professor piped up from behind: “This building was an important part of Irish History. In 1916, The Easter Rising, a battle between the Irish Rebels and the Brits, happened right here. Countless men died. If you look at the pillars, you can still even see the bullet holes.” With those words, my whole perception of the scene changed. What first appealed to me as grandiose architecture now revealed itself as a battleground survivor in a centuries-old war. Elizabeth Hill Boone points out in the chapter of her article,”Introduction: Writing and Recording Knowledge:” the general assumption is that “a visual system is either ‘art’ at one end or it is ‘writing’ at the other”(Boone, 1). The battle-scarred building is not only art (as it is architecture), but the bullet holes forever encased within the stone make it also a piece of literature. They tell a story of their own, even if it is one without language. It’s all too true that things aren’t always as they appear. Sometimes, the deepest meanings require a more perceptive look, and assumptions must be disregarded.

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2) A Door Within a Door… Within a Doorway

Lexi Yost. “Doorways.” Dublin. Ireland, 2016
Trinity College is one of the biggest tourist attractions in Dublin City. Its historic appearance and Victorian-esque buildings, not to mention having one of the world’s most famous libraries, draws people in from around the world. While self-touring Dublin after visiting the Archeology Museum (another tourist hot-spot for history buffs like me), I decided to head to the college too. I knew from my map I was getting close as I neared a large wall-like building with a door five times my height set into its middle. dsc_0113

To say I was confused as I walked towards the huge door was an understatement. Because, within the large brown door in the doorway of the gigantic building, was another door-less entry. It was, in fact, a door, within a door… within a doorway. My mind instantly formed one correlation: This completely reminded me of Inception. 4dacce11e001fac417fd6710545a2497_largeBecause, through the second door within the doorway, was a small chamber of doors that lead to yet another doorway that brought you right onto the campus of Trinity College. Like a dream within a dream, within a dream, within however many layers of dreams existed within the movie, the doorway mirrored the same perception I interpreted the movie with. Frank J. D’Angelo, the author of the article, “Nineteenth-Century Forms/Modes of Discourse”, states that “…any time a textbook writer defines the aim of exposition as embracing ‘all the means of representing general propositions’ and persuasion as ‘confirming to the mind these general propositions,’ that writer is making use of the laws of association” (D’Angelo, 354). Even though D’Angelo discusses assumptions made within writing textbooks specifically, and how straight-forward, general thinking is seen as the correct way to compile the educational texts, the concepts can still be applied to situations like this one. D’Angelo is keen on exposing the current-traditional way of thinking that is generated from certain forms, or assumed truths, of literature. Though I’m approaching this situation of Inception-like doors through a written post, a different way than D’Angelo’s nineteenth-century img_20160728_181041textbook critique, we seem to agree that favoring rhetoric over current-traditionalism is less binding and general, and comes with more freedom than the former style. Jacqueline Jones Royster, the author of the article “When the First Voice You Hear is Not Your Own,” also explains a similar concept of the way our ideas are formed, and analysis of our own voices and meanings. She writes on our own subjectivity and personal thoughts: “Adopting subjectivity as a defining value, therefore, is instructive. However, the multidimensionality of the instruction also reveals the need for a shift in paradigms, a need that I find especially evident with regard to the notion of “voice”, as a central manifestation of subjectivity” (Miller, 1118). Because we think and reason internally, our own subjective voices are formed based on our perceptions. As Jones explained, this subjectivity can shift with new experiences, just like thoughts can shift from one to another. Because this post’s content is less formal, as it is based on my psychological connection with the Irish college’s doorways and modern film, and would not be considered proper in current-traditional way of thinking. But, because what I am writing is detailing my travel experience and my own association and observations to others, it is not considered a ‘general proposition’, as it is my own individual one. And defying current-traditional way of thinking, in exchange for adapting a rhetorical or expressionist mode of thinking, is the first step of becoming persuasive in rhetoric, and as becoming distinguished as an individual among the conformity placed on literature and society. This out of the box (or out of the book) approach lets us project our own ideas, wants, and goals, onto the world. And just like the character Cobbs (a.k.a. Leonardo DiCaprio) says in Inception: “A single idea from the human mind can build cities. An idea can transform the world and rewrite all the rules.” 

3) Models, Posters, and Literature

Lexi Yost. “Rhetoric in Digital Forms.” Dublin. Ireland, 2016
Digital forms are found everywhere in our daily environments, and Ireland was no exception. Billboards, brochures, brand logos, storefront ads, and building plaques just barely brush the surface of instances I saw every day in Dublin and Galway. But while visiting Dublin’s Archaeology Museum, I noticed how 3-D maps, artifact coding, and even the layout of certain objects could also be seen as digital forms. There’s this stigma of assuming that rhetoric involves written and oral words only. But, in this class, we’ve learned that rhetoric is made possible when an individual is able to persuade an audience while adapting to appeal to them and the context of the situation.

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In the picture above, the tour group and myself were gathered in front of one of Loughcrew’s many centuries-old passage tombs. The conservation team that maintained the tombs and the grounds were proud to share the history of the monument. (They were also very happy to answer questions, which I took full advantage of after the tour). Using laminated models of the back of the tomb and the nearby “Hag’s Rock” stone, visual indications, and the Irish wit and humor, the team was able to share the monument’s story in a fun way. Walter J. Ong explains in his article regarding literature and its many diverse audiences,”Tradition and the Individual Talent,” that: “A history of the ways audiences have been called on to fictionalize themselves would be a correlative of the history of literacy genres and literary works, and indeed of culture itself” (Ong, 4). Every place, like the museum, tourist sites, or even the lesser-known tours such as the Loughcrew one, must consider their audiences before writing speeches, indication symbols and references to artifacts, and signs telling about bigger tourist sites.

8) The Coffee Experience

Lexi Yost. “COFFEE.” Ireland, 2016

Anyone who knows me knows I love coffee. And not just love it: LOVE it. It is crucial to every morning for me, and sometimes late afternoons as well. In Ireland, I was more than
excited to try different kinds, and explore different brands and businesses of my most favorite drink. Throughout the four main cities we went to, I sampled countless cups of coffee and numerous coffee shops. To remember my ‘coffee experience’, I took a picture of either the cup or the business, and added it to my photo collection. While thinking of different digital forms, I realized that these coffee brands are a great example of them. The logos and brands not only display unique design-work, but in doing so, add a rhetorical spin onto the business itself. It’s no secret that design work is appealing to the customer, and every logo and visualization is meant to signify the brand/business, and to attract potential buyers. But what I found unique about the Irish coffee cups is that they not only used visual design work, but also used certain fonts and literary sayings to brand their product (a rhetorical strategy). Diana George, the author of “From Analysis to Design”, says: “Throughout the history of writing instruction in this country, there has been some attention to the visual nature of written composition… to emphasize the importance of handwriting or penmanship as a visual representation of the writer’s character” (Miller, 1439). The “writer” can also apply to the coffee shops owner, as they want their design work – the scripts, drawings, and fonts – to successfully reflect the wanted atmosphere and personality of the brand.

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