Sunday, January 29, 2017

The New Colossus, A Poem on the Statue of Liberty

Emma LazarusThe New Colossus
By Emma Lazarus, circa 1880

(A part of this poem is inscribed on a plaque at the base of the Statue of Liberty:)

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

Photograph by Daniel Schwen - Own work, Public Domain,

Monday, January 16, 2017

Thinking about Rhetoric while Shopping at the Grocery Store: Food or Plastic?

Last Saturday when I was doing some grocery shopping, I saw something that I had never seen before. Here's a picture of 2 different kinds:

Apparently somebody thought that this is something that would sell. Not just "somebody," but an entire group of people believed that a number of other people would want to pay money for it. 

The product is basically a small container that has 3 compartments containing a variety of fruit, cheese, and some other kind of snack. These were normally $1.89 but the price had been marked down to $1.00. 

Each product has around 1.5 ounces of food--and some of that weight of course consists of the plastic that it takes to make the 3 containers of food. I picked one up and wondered if the people who purchased this would be buying about equal amounts of plastic and food, but it was of course hard to tell. Iron could have been added to the granola to further increase the product's weight, but I didn't look, and I don't remember. 

Whatever happened, the food would be eaten, and the plastic would be thrown away.

The product is for people who want a quick snack and who are trying to eat a certain type of diet, but it's also for those who may not think much about the amount of post-consumer waste to which they are contributing. I am curious about the circumstances that provide the possibility of this product's existence in the first place. I mean, for the same price, I could buy an entire apple and a whole chocolate bar--so why would I instead settle for a plastic container with tiny bits of dried apples and little chunks of chocolate? Maybe I would do it for the convenience. Maybe I would do it because of the appearance of variety and efficiency. But if I considered the act of purchasing and all its rhetorical implications, I don't think I would be persuaded to put the product in my shopping cart. I wasn't.

Book Review: The Rhetoric of American Civil Religion

I've recently received word from Taylor & Frances Online that a book review I wrote was published in the Journal of Religious and Th...