Rhetoric for Becoming Otherwise: Life, Literature, Genealogy, Flight

Open Access
Anders, Abram Daniel
Graduate Program:
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
June 23, 2009
Committee Members:
  • Richard Doyle, Dissertation Advisor
  • Richard Matthew Doyle, Committee Chair
  • Jeffrey Nealon, Committee Member
  • Xiaoye You, Committee Member
  • Robert Anderson Yarber Jr., Committee Member
  • genealogy
  • ethics
  • health
  • rhetoric
"Rhetoric for Becoming Otherwise" begins with the Isocratean premise that thought, speech, writing are best understood as bridges between the already said of language and the emerging circumstances that are the occasions for their production. This argument is rehearsed across a variety of domains and instances following Isocrates exhortation that the rhetorician or practitioner of philosophia can only model the movement of discourse without expecting to provide any “true knowledge” or “absolute theory” for how to encounter the problematics of an endlessly deferred present. As a matter of rhetoric, becoming otherwise is the continually renewed task of creating something new from the resources of language and for the demands of an ever deferred present—Presocratics versus Classicists (Chapter 1). As a matter of health, becoming otherwise is the necessity of overcoming limitation and suffering in order to achieve new norms of health and pursue the ever changing opportunities of a self-developing capacity for producing new capacities—Normativity versus Normalization (Chapter 2). In terms of literature, becoming otherwise is the diagnosis of constraint in the form of the orientations of habit and the contestation of the socializing force of all interpretive schemes as the means of multiplying possibilities for action—Countergridlock versus Gridlock (Chapter 3). As genealogy, becoming otherwise requires the patient examination of the forces of the past that seek to colonize the future in order to discover new modes of ethical subjectivity for the present—the reoccurrence of the body and the repetition of its difference versus the rule of law and the right to desire (Chapter 4). As an ecstatic practice, becoming otherwise is the affirmation of the impossible task of discovering a way through fields of force and lines of flight that offer no intelligibility outside of their unfolding paths of discovery and experimentation—sorcerers versus priests (Chapter 5). Ultimately, my dissertation seeks to multiply and intensify available tools for navigating imbrications of power/knowledge, to map a series of ways through reactive formations of thought, to affirm the impossible task of becoming otherwise.