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Aristotle penned the 5 canons of rhetoric. According to Aristotle, rhetoric is
the art of the argument or an ability, in each particular case, to see the available
means of persuasion. In his five canons were distinct subdivisions, each to be used
in conjunction with each other, to help convey meaning in a persuasive way. The five
canons are invention, arrangement, style, memory and delivery. In this essay I will
focus on the canon of style, and its supreme importance in the overall reception of
the message.
Style is the counterpart of invention. Invention is the original idea or content;
style is the way in which it is presented. Consider thea book like For Whom the Bell
Tolls by Ernest Hemmingway, a story of the concepts of love and mortality in war.
Its terse, honestly translated language effectively communicates the harshness and
depth of the feelings one would be experiencing. Without style, the 4 other canons of
rhetoric are weakened immensely.
During the formation of this concept Aristotle commented first saying that it
was primarily the invention of the poets and artists. Nevertheless, he admits that it
is necessary for the proper delivery of a persuasive message. In his definition of
style Aristotle asserts, Let the virtue of linguistic form be defined as being clear, for
since the logos is asign, it would fail to bring about its proper function, whenever it
Comment [M1]: Never say like.
Formatted: Font: Italic
Comment [M2]: You dont explain what the
circumstances are where one would be
experiencing these emotions. All the reader has to
go by are the concepts of love and mortality in
does not make clear (whatever it is the sign of, sc.)and neither banalnor above
the deserved dignity, but appropriate. He proposes that effective style requires a
balance between the clarity of a message and the dryness of it. You want to give as
direct and true a message while still refraining from the words feeling flat or lifeless
(they will not interest the reader). For Aristotle, this concept explained the way that
words are written or spoken should reflect the distinct quality that the message has.
A good example of this is Julius Caesars famous phrase Veni Vedi Vici (I
came I saw I conquered). The quality of this message is immense, especially
considering its only three words. Through the short, terse phrasing, he is declaring
his greatness in a militaristic order like fashion. The use of three similarly spelled
words in a row also rolls off the tongue in a distinct way, which(in many ways this
could be the reason that the phrase has lasted for so long). Its such a direct clear
message that leaves nothing to the mind of the reader, and it is very hard to forget.
To consider how style is used today I would like to use the song How Long
Have You Known? by the indie rock band DIIV.
DIIV (pronounced dive) is a band originated in New York City. They belong
to a small independent label called Captured Tracks. They are in many ways a great
example of how style can be used to fuel the strength of a message and how far its
power can extend. Its important to consider that the chief songwriter of this band,
Zachary Cole Smith is a student of style, having already had a career in modeling and
also dating the fashion model/pop singer Sky Ferreira. These two have had a quite
Comment [M3]: This is a little weirdly worded.
Maybe say instead, The phrase is so direct and
clear that it becomes very hard for one to forget.
interesting and distinct career in their artistic/stylistic endeavors. Their main
strength lies in their online presence in social media outlets, such as, (instagram,
youtube, and pitchfork music magazine). In the matter of a few years they have both
made a significant increase in fans and revenue/attention towards their creative
projects. I believe that this is mostly due to style. They are the quintessential New
York couple, with their grungy fashionista dress sense, drug troubled history, and
quirky online presence. The music that Cole Smith has made with his band DIIV
essentially distills this feeling into a clear immediate sound.
(this is a youtube link to the song and video)
The song is pure style. It is in many ways the embodiment of indie music.
Its a very capable rendering of the modern mindset of the intelligent detached New
Yorker. Its messages lyrically are dim and unimportant compared to the overall
texture and feeling it gives. Like many young kids listening to it today, it does not
have much to say, but it sure looks good saying it. Its characteristics all match those
of the 20-something hipsters smoking weed and listening to musicit. Like the song
they are cool, steady, tripped out, and overall hidden behind echo. As with the
fashion sense and mindset that this song represents, it borrows heavily from the
past as a form of nostalgia. Its almost 70s psychedelic sounding, its almost 80s
dream pop sounding, and yet its still somehow modern sounding throughout.
As a musician, Id like to also point out how this was done. They echo almost
every instrument making everything sound a bit ghostly or droney. The voice is very
low in the mix compared to a standard song, a stylistic choice modeled after the
music of 80s experimental pioneers, such as My Bloody Valentine and Slowdive.
There is a heavy focus on instrumentalism, something popular in independent music
that gives the song a more open feel, less based on the vocals, less based on the
meaning. All of these characteristics function as a whole to help the song convey its
This song and band are very popular in the indie community. Style is the
reason for that.
Consider the video, and its washed out throwback style. How perfectly it
evokes the lo-fi experimental mindset, how it makes you want to be a part of the
movement. My point here with this whole song is the power of persuasion through
style. How essentially rhetoric can depend almost entirely on style and still be
Whether it is through a modern medium like a popular song, or through a
classical one like a speech given by a famous conqueror, style is essential in any
rhetorical work. It is the way you say what you mean effectively and have the
audience not only understands it on a face level, but wants to understand it and
remember it.

Comment [M4]: This sentence should not
stand freely on its own. Consider connecting it to
the previous paragraph by adding it at the end.