If my uncle were a rhetorical concept, he’d be arrangement. Due to his OCD he views the world as a jigsaw puzzle whose pieces are all over the place: under the couch, in the dog’s belly, up Baby Bop’s nose, etc. He knows all of the pieces should fit together perfectly to create the picture that’s on the box, and gets frustrated when he discovers that a piece is missing.
I’m sure we can all relate to his frustrations. Sometimes we just really want people to see the bigger picture, but we don’t always know how to communicate it with them. Knowing how to arrange your thoughts so that you can accurately convey meaning is essential, and requires you to know about concepts such as kairos, rhetorical velocity, and digital delivery that are all related to arrangement.
Rhetorical velocity refers to the speed of motion or action within the delivery of information. Think about a commercial promoting equality versus a persuasive essay promoting equality. A persuasive essay might be anywhere from 2 pages to 200 pages on up; there’s really no limit! Meanwhile, the commercial will usually be limited to a few seconds or minutes. The same message is being conveyed, however, the media are arranged differently in order to relay the information at a pace appropriate to the medium.
One of the things that can help you choose whether to communicate using high rhetorical velocity or low rhetorical velocity is decide on the method of delivery. This day and age, a lot of the information that we receive and the arguments that we hear are delivered digitally. There are hundreds of types of delivery that are technically considered digital. Take an advertisement for example. You might see an ad on Facebook that is essentially just a print ad on a screen. Most people will try to scroll past it, so the ad should be arranged in a way that allows people to get the information quickly (high velocity).
Other digital delivery methods include but aren’t limited to TV ads, TV shows, Cell phone interactions, email, social media, etc. All of these means of digital delivery have advantages and limitations, and you can’t choose a method of digital delivery without carefully considering arrangement. You wouldn’t post a 5 paragraph essay on Facebook if you wanted people to buy a product; you’d arrange an ad and all of its parts according to what would capture the target audience’s attention for that digital delivery medium.
Kairos refers to the fact that if you want to communicate messages effectively, you should be aware of context. In other words, you have to make sure that what you are saying, where you are saying it, and when you are saying it is appropriate for that exact moment in time. The concept of Kairos often influences arrangement because, again, you want to make sure that you are saying things in an appropriate order. Let’s say you’ve been asked to officiate a wedding. You wouldn’t begin the wedding with “I now pronounce you husband and wife, you may now kiss the bride.” and then proceed with the ring ceremony and end with the vows. That’s the equivalent of telling a joke and starting with the punch line; people would be confused and potentially angry with you. You’ve got to arrange the information that you are communicating according to what is correct in that exact moment in time.
Header image courtesy of Ryan McGuire at Gratisography.com
Downs, Doug. (2017). Rhetoric: Making sense of human interaction and meaning-making. Writing about Writing: A College Reader. 3rd edition, (pp. 457-481). Boston, MA: Bedford/St. Martin’s.
Morey, Sean. (2017). The digital writer. Southlake, TX: Fountainhead Press.
Ridolfo, J. & DeVoss, D.N. (2009). Composing for recomposition: Rhetorical velocity and delivery.