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Lee, Gicheol. 2005. "Typorga~lism." http://w.typorganism.com (accessed June 5, 2005). Lienhard, John. 2005. "Ricci's Memory Palace." Episode No. "Engines of Our Ingenuity" Radio Program. l l t t p : / / ~ . ~ l l l . edu/engines/epi1226.htm (accessed June 5,2005). Ling.lln MOO. 2005. http://lingua.utdallas.edu:7000(accessed .June 5 9 2005). Matts, Roberto. 2005, "Psychological Morphology." Trans. Pierre Petiot. http://homepage.maccom/ph~t~m~r~hosP/tml (accessed June 5,2005). McKeon. Richard. 1941. The Basic Works of Aristotk. New York: Random House. Nan&, Alok B. 2005. http:fluxtopia.com (accessed June 5, zoo5). Olson, Gary A. 1990) "Jacques Derrida on Rhetoric and Composition: Conversation."JAC 10, no. 1: 1-21. petiot, Pierre. 2005. "Surrealism and the Machine." http:/ /homepage.mac,co~/photomorph~~e/ma~hine (accessed June 5, 2005). plate. 1995. Phaedrus. Trans. Alexander Nehamas and Pad Indianapolis: Hacketc. . 2005. Phaidros. Perseus Digital Library. http://ww.perseus. =~erseus%SAtext%SA1999.01. tufts.edu/cgibin/ptext?doc 0173&~~~ry=head%3D%234 (accessed June 5,2005). Schwienhorst, Klaus. 1997. "Talking on the MOO: Learner autonomy and language learning in tandem." Paper presented at CALLMOO: Enhancing Language Learning Through Internet Technologies, Bergen, Norway. http://w.tcd.ie/cLCs/assistaIlts/kschwien/~~~blications/CALLMOOtalk.htm (accessed June 5, 2005). Sire, Geoffrey. 2000a. "English Composition as FLUXJOKE." Paper delivered at Conference on College Composition and Cornmunication (CCCC). Chicago. 2002b. En,glish Composition as a ffappenirtg. Logan: Utah State University Press. Trimbur, John. 2002. "Delivering the Message: Typography and the ~ ~ t ~ of Writing," In Rhetoric and Co~r~positiwrr h t d h c t u a l ~ i ~ l i t ~ as work, ed, Gary A. Olso11, 188-202. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press. vlrilio, pau]. 1997. Open Sky. Trans. Julie Rose. London: Verso.

4
INVENTION WILD IN THE
On Locating Kairos in Space-Time
THOMAS RICKERT

*

When it came night, the white waves paced to and fro in the and the wind brought the sound of the great v o i c ~ the to on shore, arid they felt that they then be interpreters. -Stephen Crane, "The Oprn Boat"

,

ames L. Kinneav~'s1986 call for renewed attention to kkros has resulted in a substantial amount of work in the years since, but it has not dispelled a peculiar difficulty. Knims resists formalization and masl e q which K n n e a ~ notes as one reason for its neglect. This mystery is a theme in much contemporary work-as Eric Charles white kairos "stands for precisely the irrational novelty of the moment that f"-alization" ( 1987, 20). Additionally, the meaning of kairos is murky because of i a many and varied usages. Phillip Sipiora lists a do*e~l meanings for kairos that have appeared in classical discourse, convenience, decolAum, due measure, fitness, frtlit, occasion, profit, proportion, propriety, symmet~y, tact, and wise moderation (2002, He could have added opportunity, balance, hamony, the 'ght and/0r Proper time, opening, timeliness, and other teI.ms as well. Little wonder that the philologist William H. Race calls the "elusive'' (l981, 197) Nevertheless, in most of the scholarship that has ppeared since Kinneavy's call, kairos is understood more or less in line

71

Opening. or situation. cf. ecologies and ecosystems. kairos can refer to the opening in the warp through which the shuttle must pass. 198 n. the opening through which the shot must pass is .Aeschylus (Agamemnon 363ff. As far as we know. In the several uses in he Iliad. T. Essentially. Onians goes on to link this meaning of opening with the English word "nick." St~pplicants745f. it would assume that our contemporary understandings of environment and situation could be grafted onto ancient Creek thought. who writes. Showing up in Homer. is older than the more familiar meanings like "due measure" or "opportune time7' (1973. happens when we attend to the emplacement and not just the timeliness or decorum of kairos.).326. hitting the kairos with no false word. ambience. this would be highly dubious. This notion of opening is still with us today. . Kinneavy tells us. though he emphasizes the n o m a tive meaning more than Onians (1981. 2). we see that it originally had a spatial meaning. without place kairos is an empty concept." which literally means a shallow cut. spatial use of kairos. Aeschylus.ean Odes 1. or opportune time to do something" (1983. most studies on kairos attend primarily to its temporal. As Onians goes on to argue. but which we also use to refer to a critical moment (‘‘just in the nick of time") (347). The sense of critical time is clear.n) on the body where an arrow finds its mark (see 4. I am satisfied to consider extant scholarship that demonstrates the role of place in early conceptions of kairos. but more particularly "a penetrable opening. some scholars claim. 3). decorum. passage through the iron of an axe or rather of twelve axes set at intervals in a straight line" (345). Another sense of kairos stems from weaving. and Euripides ("[men] . as we shall see. Murray's translation of kairi0. Also of significance here is that the Roman translation of kairos as tempus captures this early. whereby I would claim that Gorgias or other Sophists had a materially rich theory of kairotic situations. But. Yet the older meaning of kairos as "mark" or "target" with its implications of specific implacement continues to show up in many ancient Greek authors. Miller. is invention on the spur of an unpredictable. and so on. I should add that this is not meant to be a historical reconstruction. A key question is what the ancient rhetorical conception of kairos can offer us when considered in the light of contemporary discussions of material context. suggesting further that invention itself is an emergent process extending far beyond the bounds of an autonomous. 197). Vitanza. 344 n. the warp only lasts a moment. and. opportl~nistic.439). "I saw my opening. and proportion [kairos] is best in all things" (Kinneavy 1983. Pindar. the place on the body where penetration (as by an arrow) is easiest. In this essay I am primarily concerned with the con. 8. Whether thought in terms of timeliness. notch. Race 1981). or chip in something. and contemporary work on ecology and environments. but it shows up in the adjectiValand not the noun form. to see wha~. Furthennore. and others. Kakos is therefore a concept integral for understanding posthuman subjectivity as radically dispersed. The art of kairos. aiming the bow beyond the kairos.72 Thomas Rickert INVENTIONTHE WILD IN 73 with his original definition: kairos is "the right. Onians cites Pindar ("I have lighted upon many themes. networks." Nem. Thus. irrational moment.5 is in Homer. emphasizing that the customary understanding of kairos as normative or temporal is absent in these usages. autopoesis. In fact. "Observe due measure. kairos defines a rhetor's relation to a unique opportunity arising from an audience or context. and work from there. one that calls for a proper response." we might say.and propitiatory dimensions.185. Richard Onians suggesls that this meaning for kairos. 346). One might say that I am tlying to find a way for kairos to take place. in short. Race also points out that the temporal meaning of kairos comes later. the first use of kairos in the customary noun form is by Hesiod.. . the term refers to the "deadliest spot" (A. the temporal meaning came later (Onians 1973. The set of twelve axes was a way for Greek archers to practice by aiming at the openings. Rather.18). no doubt. Using the work of Untersteiner. the temples are the weak and easily penetrable points on the skull (Onians 1973. Andmmache 1120). Such discussions emphasize the fundamental if neglected role of place in every aspect of human activity. 80). just as important. kaims does not just refer to the target at which one aims. an aperture. 11.84.text of kairos as a way toward developing a richer understanding of environment and our inventive relationship within it. but notjust any place. so the time to make the "shot" through the warp is brief (Onians 1973. All this suggests that the earliest uses of kairos were grounded in a sense of place. and I took it. and it is easy to see how it can be affiliated with the more dominant understanding of kairos as opportunity. as it is the word from which we get "temple" (344). Looking to the earliest uses of kairos. 1 will attempt to bring out this spatial quality and show its necessity for understanding invention as an ambient and not a subjective activity. in keeping with the ancient Greek conception of critical opening. Race suggests that this early use of kairos "denotes a vital or lethal place on the body" (1981. Hesychius. with Arrows The first appearance of kairo. willing subject. particularly work on environments. 80). 344). 8.

especially as it has been explored in terms of the Sophists' for in whom kaims is held to be a cnlcial principle.." and more essential was the orator/alien's undersunding of the While local nomoi: community-specificcustoms and laws" she decorum are conjoined in the larratt tirneliners the normative over the temporal a P e c r j But even it of making appropriate or fitting use of the is a arise. and social constructivism is specifically interested in the harmonious qualities of kaimr as theorized in the work of M~~~ untersteiner and Leo Enos. a n art that "seeks.I. holars likeJarratt are quite correct to emphasize the role of local nomoi a such l'iews neglect the full import of a Inore robust conceprion of kairOs that look* beyond the audience. and &selves that Pmugoras w. holds that kairos is One of the terms for sophistic rhewric. protagoras and for m&ng kniros a fundamental principle in lheir partio.s best chance to intervene in and transforln a + h f " (lgg79 Ir Balancing. ~ h carterdoes not ~ ~ ~ expliciU~ h e claim.ie ctllical dimension and sense Of "ghtness-a critical point in tirne and On the *Ore Profound connotations of gencra+ion: [he and resollltion of form and matter that initialed the creation of the uniand 'hat is therein" (2003. with Middles qthagoreans' ta Michael carter.Thomas Rickerc INVENTIONH E WILD IN T ing the sense of o ~ c n i n g opportunity. Rive life to the universe" llO-ll). 102). in this sense is a way looking to the situation ioelf as a Wide to na\igating differing positions and finding he colTect one. but it that "res~onsibili~"-ifwe can even continue to use that tunlper'' throughout the situational envirolls Audience adaptation is One facet3and posiblJ' a very small one depending on specific cirnces.s theoly of power. looking to Pythagoras and somewhat different path with k.aims. relativism. Susan Jarratt also notes the importance of opportunily. lanet w l writes that "[dlePioying ~ l art in a particular sitllation is the sign of the true rhetor yet something that . success depends on to changing circumSrarlcesand 'newly On conrenrs33 (13) BY and large. (19879 1 3 ) . Unterstciner slates that the Pythagoreans saw a law in in which opposites. wllich that power has no specific location arid cannot be ='nbed solely " indiddual O r group The point is that it is misleading to suggest a is subjectively responsible for how an audience This to say that is no responsibility on h e part of the rhetor. He goes On the ilnportance of the telnporality of a given situation' in that a rate be flllly lrspectful and cognizant of the righr time that rhetor emerges to call forth speaking. For White' this will mean that knjms is primalily an inventiona1 concept.iosymbolic One also look to Michel Foucao1t. active sense of harmony. I~ this regard. this has been the iaims. 36. *twill "[i]n the mztelY of the lnoInent lies (59) rhetor. Louis Althusser's corlcept of interpellation ruggesw respond L a o ideological call. or "hail. OnianS a quite the -belief in b e weaving of fate with the length of lhe remarks length of timc" contributes to the later warp-threads of the critical. Encounters" Debra Hawhee addresses kairOr in a at first reminiscent of Carter's. telnporal connotation Of kairos (MM7)' meanings of kniros together. kaims a robust. its kairos. Of a skilled rhetor would respond to knlrus. ~ e e ~ n p h a s i ~butgnot in .. From this pempective. to capture in opportune and a t t e m p lo suggest what is POe moments that which is On 'lhe sible. Carter notes that Enos> of kairos conveys this important pythagorean hematic He then argues that while k a h still retained . defining it as 'a White pllu these passing instant when an opening appears which must be through with force if success is to be achieved." in conscious and Scious that have littfe to do with rational decision-malung or to do with the achievement of identity in s.lS first to capitaiize of the opportene moinent" (1983.lar are poulafis. deKribing the ~ o ~ h i s tability "to judge the circelns' at the moment of an oration. to explain that Isocratcs emphasized the need lo vate a for the right time by careful Of deco described as habituauon. some ~onte'llpora'~theones about human conlportnlent important for e*an'Ple. he brings together harms and or an a t t e l n ~to theorize a sophistic rheronc attuned to t POrar? 'OnCerns with a n t i f o u n d a t i o n d i ~ ~ .-annot be taught by explicit precepts or rlllesfl 5H) She goes c. we can infer that the hr this is that audience is one part of what is given in a Thus. Wowsoever this sense of urn% is inculcated. Carter goes on to point out that such rhetorical pr-wedures involve tar more than ada~rarionto audiences (105). 40). for example. "bound logether by harmony. it is not the of conflic@7 but achieve~ncntof workable or probable trllths in rituatiolls where surety is lacking. Instead of looking to Itas" IGKairotic A relation to fate is also suggested here.

which. 26). . "kniros mediates-or goes 'between'-the outside of the self. 44. and emergent moment beyond the control of a self Indeed. Hawhee abandons what may well strike her as still too dialectical a conception of kairos (as is suggested by her use of Gilles Deleuze) in favor of one that scrambles oppositional poles. As support for this categorization. one that encompasses Willing. and describes it as a position denying the possibility of objcctiviry and upholding the individual fabrication of one's own subjective reality (27). 18.{ tivist. but asking ourselves what in their thoughts on kniras can be brought forward and made relevant for contemporary rhe tor-ical thought.not subjec- ." however. the nodes where the 'self' encounters a world. as I will conclude. In their own specific ways.' a space-time which marks the emergence of a pro-visional 'subject. The concept of "middle" designates not a stable realm betwee11 poles. rather. but an always on the move. one that reinscribes kairos continually in a narrative of subjective control or advantage.2 In rethinking kairos along these lines. spatial usage of kairos.e. Her concept of the middle is a productive attempt to move our understanding of knims beyond the "i~ldividualisticmotif' (20). and antifoundationalist (2001. sees the kairotic experience as "ephemeral or fleeting. even in the powerfully generative sense Carter propounds. the "subjectivist"-Mario Untersteiner. we are not reconstr~~cti~lg order to supelimpose it in it back upon the ancient Greeks. used to limit a speaker's time: "[O]rators are 'like frogs. but evaded in the synthetic approach of harmonizing balance described by Carter. It akes greater sense to understand the kairotic experience as one that broode~than the experience of the water clock. argues Consigny. Untersteiner. kairos's central~~ ity to Gorgias's rhetorical art shows us that Consigny's arguments have wider scope. suggesting a postlluman co~lceptionthat shares affinity with earlier work on kairoric invent. and Victor Vitanza. What to I do wish to address is the problem of who it is that Consigny places in one of the categories. We will see that neither the categories of the subjective and objective. a point fundamental to their posthumanist views of invention. work I will now turn to. properly speaking. In lg this way.Thomas Rickert Pythagorean influence and its emphasis on "balance. "Knzros. italics in original). Consig~ly breaks down the interpretations of Gorgias into three distinct schools: the subjectivist. an ambient understanding of kairos illuminates the more originary. al-e adequate for thinking kairos in this way. for the latter [make] their cry in water and the former before the water clock' (B30)" (Consigny 200 1. kairotic experience that one can transcend the illusory "amphibian" experience. however. and Vitanza each address kaims as precisely . we can see that a common theme emerging in their work is the necessity of stepping out of the modernist paradigm of subjectivity that gives rise to a category like "subjectivist" in the first place. but it does not follow at one's subjective kairotic experience is somehow more real. dispersed form of subjcctity-one that." Hawhee writes. This is not to say that spatiality is necessarily a concern in their work on hniros. setting aside their differences for a moment. The subjectivist "key to Gorgias' subjectivist epistemolog~" position. 43).. Consigny traces the subjectivist reading of Gorgias to Hegel. temporally unstable. they each point towards a rich conception of kairotic force that shows how we are shaped by external circumstances/situations. sans The Subject I would like to turn now to a problem take11 up by Scott Co~lsig~iy in G o r p Sopkist nrtd Artist. is a position attuned to the concerns of our own age. empiricist. "enables a consideration of 'invention-in-the-middle. 1 would argue that in their own ways. While their agendas are different. i. a ~ the d ~ discourse or the 'other' that the self encounters" (25). . 66). In other words. Indeed. cf. nor metaphors like poles and middles. Sprague 2001. one might say that Rawhee is proposing through her inventive kniros a postmodern. While his focus is on Gorgias. Bernard Miller. Consigny cites Gorgias's aphorism about the clepsydra. 44)? One might well read the aphorism as suggestiog the water clock imposes something artificial. is n o longer the modernist subject at all. they nevertheless help lay the groundwork for thinking about kairos in ways that reflect its spatial dimension while abandoning the subjectobject dichotomy. it is to say that their thoughb on kairos help us to see that it has heretofore remained entirely too enmeshed in an opportunistic frame. one that is always radically unprecedented and unique .. or waterclock. the only reality is the present nlon~ent" (44). s why the kairotic experience is a "radically subjective new moment" nsigny 2001.' one that works on. Hawhee directly tackles the subject/ohject problem varior~sly attended to in postmodern theory. Consigny points out that kairos is seen by many scholars as the (2001. M h e r than seeking the hal-monious balance of opposites.3 Consigny argues that for Gorgias. this means that the external reality imposed by the clock is artificial. The first question we must ask here. Miller. It will not be my pil~pvse analyze thcsc divisions. and it is only in attending to one's subjective. Hawhee underscores the necessity of l i ~ l k i ~kairtls to the problem of subjectivity.-and is worked on 6-y-the situation" (2002.ion beyond the modern subject. then.

at the same time one and many. while sympathetic to Miller's reading of kairos. what Heidegger calls the Augen. Untersteiner. eternally flooding back . but rather as force throughout. shot through with its Nietzschean overtones of tragedy and excess. among other things. Untersteiner's meaning may not be immediately transparent. . 180-81). oft repeated by Untersteiner: kairos is not something that a "subject" takes advantage of. contradictory voices" (1957. it becomes a matter of gaining subjective advantage over one's audience. a moment neither of crisis/renewal (theological kairos) nor opportunity (traditional. without end . Instead. no disgust. beings-Dasein in Heidegger's terminology. and not solely a speaker's subjective experience." which will mean. is actually generative. by contrast. or Platonic kairos) but "many competing. as a play of forces and waves of forces. Untersteiner points to a crucial distinction. As Untersteiner writes. 177). The Will to P0711f?r. he also called them generative. Heidegger 1982. but with additional lines that underscore Nietzsche's attention to space: And do you know what "the world" is to me? This world: a monster of energy without beginning. rather. Miller notes that the Platonic kakos establishes the split between subject and object (171). increasing here and at the same time decreasing there. There is. Untersteiner's reading of the Gorgias and kairos. In the instant of any given situation. chooses one of these: in the present case the virtue which the 'occasion' (given by the time and the circumstances) renders inevitable" (1954. a rhetor's decision is "willed by kairos" (1954. blessing itself as that which must recur eternally. First. situation subsists in the temporality of Dasein. not a grasping. a sea of forces flowing and rushing together. and not a space that might be "empty" here or there. in which Being becomes an encounter. using it to differentiate between the Platonic and Gorgian versions of kairos. Vitanza cites from the final aphorism in Nietzsche's collected notebooks. And while scholars agree that this notion of kairos certainly informs the Gorgian notion of kairos (see De Vogel 1966. this disjunction. what is radically subjective is one's limitation of the kairotic moment to the water clock. in Gorgias "we are not dealing with a mere theoretical precept enjoining the observance of kairos on orators". 181. establishes that the Gorgian kairos fuses subject and object. nevertheless finds the reliance on Heidegger to be problematic. not something endlessly extended. Plato's k. no "subject" who accedes to cognitive and decisive priority in a rhetorical situation. I will single out one key point. creating a "meditative correspondence" that slams shut the ontological difference opened by Plato (Miller 1987. the ethical dissoi logoi. 181). rather than being an impediment for a rational. . .ros and will to power qua dispersion. oft-misunderstood idea that language is the "house of being" (Miller 1987. not something blurry or wasted. . language is in a sense an abode in that through language. I quote the selection here. winding complexities of Untersteiner's marvelous book. . 178-79. 63). It is the ambient externality of k~airosin all its discursive/material/psychic bounty that is decisive. the middle voice. "it is always a question of an act of cognition which. As Untersteiner says in several different permutations. to flesh out the connection between kal. 289. Vitanza. contra Consigny. Miller explains that "the situation is not something we create or something pre-existing that we stand against . is often at odds with more traditional scholarly treatises. Choice is rendered "inevitable" by the occasion itself. Bernard Miller makes much of Untersteiner's argument. 169). Recall earlier that when Carter described these antitheses. This further suggests that the facilitative locus of kairos must be carefully considered. rather. To simplify. he discusses Heidegger's oft-quoted. or at least . there is a key difference between what Carter and Untersteiner do (and this despite the fact that Carter cites Untersteiner extensively). and this instant is akin to kairos. further. and a trigger for language's concernful disclosure. no weariness: this is my all elements composing the situation. however. meaning "being-therem-come to be what they are. and the will to power in order to see it as a "dispersive power. eternally changing. there is a disjunction between a rhetor and the situation: there is no rational synthesis possible that would make sense of all the contraries suffusing a situation. of mastering the moment. Kairos marks an abiding. .78 Thomas Rickert properly adapting one's words for the occasion (1987. not being able to embrace in one conceptual synthesis the antithetical extremes. for example). That is. but set in a definite space as a definite force. the world is disclosed. cf. Nor do I have the space here to delve into the subtle. italics in original). but what is clear is that the locus of decision is quite dispersed.blick.airos is one of a rhetor taking advantage of a momentary opportunity in a given situation. and their mutual implication anchors us in the awareness of the simple 'that it is"' (1987. 177). Vitanza links kairos with invention. willing subject to take decisive advantage of the kairotic moment. Miller is able to connect this understanding of kairos with Heidegger's notion of being-in-the-world. Second. as a becoming that knows no satiety. Carter looks to the Pythagorean kairos and its emphasis on the achievement of harmony. a catalyst.

I think. happening now. Entering a theater of Athenians. they deny that we can control. cf. except to mention that there is an implicit goal. . 291 ). this would be the proper reception in light of the Platonic understanding of kairos. or the surrounding world. and places without b ~ u n d a r i e s .ot as the opportune moment that we could capitalize on (with the full economic valuation that implies). but as something happening. 550. Perhaps an even clearer sense of the difference between the two hinges on where they conclude. In this. conscious agent. Placing. but wanting to push him further toward a radically dispersed subjectivity of flows without blockages. just as they are all keen to see this invention happening in the middle voice. is difficult to improve upon. Am I saying that there is no free will." and he could easily be talking about the Vitanzan kairos. entangling. to the unthought. all this shows the extent to which Consigny's claim that Untersteiner. a world of eternal. cert~inly. What I will do in the next section is explain what that might mean for us. that this world. . as Philostratus himself intimates. ~ I ii Ultimately. "Don't you miss it. It is the perpetual. Rather than subjectivism. he recounts. This i~~orld the i ~ ~ itol powrr--and nothkg btsides! is l (Nietzsche 1968. However. don't you miss it / Some 'a you people just about missed it!" sings David Byrne in the Talking Heads song "Born under Punches (The Heat Goes On). always burbling right t h e possibility for creating something new.' and he was the first to proclaim himself willing to take this chance. manipulate. but also we are the will to power-and nothing besides (1968. It is common to see Gorgias as boastful. these three variously give priority to the outside world while abandoning the subject-object dichotomy.ysinnworld of the eternally self-creating. I have so far been working with two seemingly different takes on kairos. that our actions and words are somehow predetermined. why thinking of the kairos in this way puts us back onto the path to place. originally had a spatial dimension. not only is the world the will to power and nothing besides. the elernally selfdestroying . Kairos. and this is something Vitanza is keen to jettison as limiting and dangerous. that is. focusing in particular on Gorgias. or legislated by a mysterious. and now is the right time for them to come together. and not the other way around. in order to demonstrate that this subjective kairos is largely a Platonic legacy. unless the joy of the circle is itself a goal. as we have seen above. But we must tread carefully here. to US. As a consequence. among others. 550). without goal. a brilliant stylist whose words shine even in translation. clashing becoming (and many more gerunds besides could be supplied) is what Vitanza sees as kairos. something irrational (Vitanza 1997. such a view is significantly at odds with what many recent scholars have suggested for the Gorgian kairos. or otherwise avail ourselves of the kaims. nostalgic and guilty (see Vitanza 1997. I looked at some contemporary reexaminations of kaim. 187-88. temporalities without nostalgia.80 Thomas Rickert Dion. Vitanza exhorts us to the new. Miller winds down with a meditation on a response to the call of being. 182). Next. willing. In this sense. I argued above. and where he curiously enough is closer LO Miller. Gorgias "had the boldness to say 'suggest a subject. and that the Gorgian kairos is better understood as itself having a kind of agency-it is not so much that we avail ourselves of kairotic opportunities as it is that our words and actions emerge as willed by kairos. the sense that it is always happening. n. . And it is not just happening to us. suggesting instead that in some way. It is beyond the scope of this essay to unpack all the differences between Miller's Heideggerian and Vitanza's Nietzschean conceptions of kairos. as Nietzsche says in the very last line of this aphorism. Miller. flowing. But it is clear enough. to invention. is in his assimilation and repurposing of Untersteiner's claim that kairos wills us. needs to be thought of in terms of what Heidegger termed the Urnwelt. changing. Kairos. 172-73. . italics in original) INVENTIONIN THE WILD 81 Nietzsche. and most of which are keyed to a subject who is an active. with kaims providing passage (1987. Vitanza is also with Heidegger. though this early usage was gradually lost in favor of meanings like opportunity and decorum. with Aircraft Philostratus claims in Lioes o the Sophists that Gorgias initiated extemf porary oratory. 287-94. 242-43. exterior . uncanny. within the turbulence and play of forces. Where Vitanza differs from White and Hawhee. 31). which further suggests that invention is ultimately spatially enmeshed. showing apparently that he knew eve~ything and would trust to the moment (toi kniroi) to speak on any subject" (Sprague 2001. and Vitanza can be grouped under the category of subjectivism is significantly flawed. Miller 1987. 181-82). and specifically. a sense of proper comportment and attitude. We have a subject who is skilled and knowledgeable enough to take advantage of kairos at will. Nevertheless. . All of them are interested in kniros as a form of invention. Vitanza's take on kairos is remarkably similar to that of White and Hawhee. the kairos does what it does to us. that suffuses Heidegger's incessant talk of the call and authenticity. And.

of the way we exist in the world" (2001. so that in managing the strips. we equally cannot say that there is anything resembling poles. of kairotic moments in a generative place. causes. then. Thus. However. And yet. It is not that the controllers do not make ctloices. we well know that invention and kniros have long been linked. for the context makes all that occurs possible. may not seem so relevant to invention. Dourish concludes from this that we should not understand information as decontextualized. in human work and interaction. 107). Viewing kairos sans the autonomous. instrumentation. focusing on the opportunistic or decorous aspects of kniros brings with it a particular sort of audience-driven stance. Dourish writes that "the meaningfulness of everyday experience lies not in the head. willing subject-or what we have been calling posthuman subjectivity--suggests kinds of invention less attuned to advantage or success over an audience than working with what an audience in a material situation brings forth. Paul Dourish. middles. relations that Gorgias viewed with an affirmative. First. and further. and making invention a subjective act. and specifically place. but (despite their job designation) they are not simply controlling it. inventive eye. Subjectivity tiikes form as radically dispersed throughout the environs. No "subject controls" what occurs-actions emerge as willed by the situation. a middle. Kairotic invention in this sense simply refers to an opportunity we can capitalize on. INVENTION IN THE WILD 83 The work of managing the space becomes the embodied performance of physical activity. pointing instead to a highly nuanced set of relations among language. and people. in Andy Clark's words. I would like to begin closing this essay by showing how kniros too might be thought in terms of its ambient environs. a researcher in computer ant1 information science. which form an ambient whole. . with Verbal Such insights. is to suggest that somehow we are back to a subject-object relationship. italby g. In part. insofar as human beings are part of the environs.g ics in original). The controllers work in groups. while perhaps changing our views of air traffic controllers. and I will discuss one here. Instead. A posthuman subject is one that might be described. . The air traffic control center is a series of events in a specific environs. linking it thereby with persuasion. the environs are what enable us. while we cannot say that there is an abstract unity of controllers. but in the world. which. the usefulness of Heidegger is that his existeritial analytic has concrete consequences for how we view human activity in the world. but they enable inclusively of human beings. connects contemporary computer engineering issues with the phenomenological efforts of Husserl and Heidegger. even agonistics. 221). Customarily. In a 1995 ethnographic study. Perhaps it is that I am looking for ways to theorize a posthuman subjectivity in terms of immersion rather than connection. or wills. Of course. they are also manapng the airspace for the other controllers. environment. arising around the specific details of the work site itself' (66-67). A relevant example from a study of air traffic controllers can help make all this more concrete. that we should b e g n to see the environment not simply as the location where information shows up. 65.n. it has been understood as something a human subject does. just as the air traffic control center is. and harmony that have a tendency to reinscribe the traditional subject. Inventing. . the air traffic control center. Dourish points out that this is not a case of simple representation. aircraft. It is a consequence of our mode of being. and work activity. What is fundamental here is the attention to the material world." We can draw still more conclusions from Dourish's example. The strips provide a quick and easy summary of the current work state.Thomas Rickert force to which we conveniently give a comforting but still obscurantist label? Everything about the Gorgian kniros suggests otherwise. or-a point I will return to in my conclusion-irrationality. this will entail moving away from certain kinds of metaphors like poles. it is that their choices are already immersed in the context in which they get played out. it was found that air traffic controllers rely on thin plastic strips lying in a bay on their instrument console to aid them in managing airspace. flow rather than node. as "a spatio-temporally extended process not limited to the tenuous envelope of skin and skull" (1997. Working out of Heidegger. either. Dourish provides several examples to illustrate his theories about the centrality of place and social interaction in human activity. strips. "the controllers manage the nirspac~ ~ t ~ n ~ ~ ( ~the ist72Ps" (Dourish 2001. The controllers are not simply adapting to an environment. even worse. and how such a redescription likewise disperses our . Dourish continues: the controllers "transform some of the work of managing airspace into a physical process of monitoring and managing the set of strips corresponding to the current tratfic. "manifested as part of the immediate environment" (67). To deny the fundamentally constitutive role of place. the emplacement of the controllers is essential to their activity. but the very medium by which work can be conducted (67-68). the environs here are not just a material reality to which we adapt o r which somehow "determine" us. rather. drags us yet again into the depressing morass of subjectivism. effectiveness.

appearances are somewhat deceiving. 161). Verbal. We might be led to understand the film as demonstrating the most traditional notion of kairotic invention. and in part because as David Blakesley points out.' Thinking place kairotically. We are not far from White's definition of kniros as a "radical principle of occasionality estab lishing the living present as point of departure for rhetorical invention" (1987. unprepossessing character. But the film goes further. insofar as kazros is emplaced. aka Keyser Sose (a German/Turkish hybrid phrase loosely meaning "King Talk Too Much") wol~ldin this view be a clever talespinner simply taking advantage of his situation. for example. who in the end is the only one LO get what he wants. Roger "Verbal" Kint (Kevin Spacey). What I am adding to the mix is the necessity of melding this sense of kairos to a rich. for the individual is already a part of the environment. This dispersal of the inventive subject. willing agents to something like subjectivity as a condensation of probabilities realized in movement. we are led to see that many of the names and events Verbal gives to Kujan in fact come from the bulletin board in the interrogation office. thereby moves us from a subjectivity of semiautonomous. in showing how Verbal picks up cues from the office environment-names. one who invents through attunement to audience and place in much the same way Gorgias trusted to do. creates the narrative framework concerning Keaton's guilt that gives Verbal a good deal of wiggle room. Kujan. is integral to the creation of the tale: he sets up the interrogation. However. Dave Kujan (Chazz Palminteri). supplies necessarv information. the film takes great pains to suggest otherwise.e Usw. 234)." he says over and over in various permutations. and presents crucial facial cues. Bryan Singer. material sense of place. and even from the ma~lufacturer'sname on the coffee cup Kujan uses (Kobayashi. though not the Sose of mythic will.whom Verbal names as Sose's associate). Kairos is thus the will to invent suggested by White and Vitanza. or say something. materialized in space. In the end. the film is "explicitly about rhetoric as a social and verbal art" (2003. The Usual Susp~cts conveys such an idea in yet another way. has masterminded a major drug deal that involved the destruction of a freighter and many deaths. Verbal. is only co~lvincing due to its familiarity. we see that Verbal was Sose all along. however. Verbal is invented by katro~ itself. A lesson of the film. Verbal's cleverness is one of inventive passivity before the ambient environs in which he is immersed. from the desk. Miller. which will perhaps have its own immersive appeal. under interrogation by a police detective." patsy.84 Thomas Rickert INVENTION H E WILD IN T 85 customary understanding of subjective activity. or the advent of the posthuman "subject. or even Socratic dialectic. I would add that my use of the film to write about the emplacement of kairotic invention also exemplifies the very theory I am modeling. after meeting in a police lineup. is that the ambient environs invent us in kairotic moments. We might say that the lesson here is that the environment is always situating us in arrangements that simultaneously unleash some possibilities and foreclose on others. the kairotic situation cannot be adequately explained without taking account of such interaction. then. it is shown that while the various characters certainly make choices. This further suggests that kntros can no longer be thought of as in any way irrational. The film takes place as a series of flashbacks constructed from the narrative given by a seemingly innocuous criminal suspect. the mysterious Keyser Sose. During the course of the film. and invented in place. Or so it seems. Such a reading. it is only the emplacement of kniros that explains how the situational environs can be a "willi~lg"and inventive agent in line with Gorgias's trust in the moment itself to supply what was necessary for speaking.al Suspects (dir. as suggested by Untersteiner. it is the mosl . When asked to do something. Through a brilliant montage of panoramic camera shots while Verbal/Sose makes his getaway. "convince me. tells all. events-and weaves them into his tale. 1995) can demonstrate these ideas with an economy stemming in part from the im~nersive qualities of film itself. The film Th. Rather. under duress from Kujan. Furthennore. Kujan himself continually provides Verbal with added information and prompts. but only when we consider kazros in terms of place. began a new wave of criminal escapades. But even here. but it is clear that there is little or no subjective autonomy or control. Kujan becomes privy to other information. Dean Keaton (Gabriel Byrne). he is the model of cooperation. I emphasize. Not predetermined. He interrogates Verbal brusquely. Thus. Verbal is a kind of latterday Sophist. the film suggests the office space itself is a coinventor. including the involvement of one of the FBI's top criminal suspects. during the course of the film. coldness. and Vitanza. So at the very least. At the end of the film. a complex folding within other complex foldings of material and discursive force. yet it is such only when we also displace agentive force away from the subject and toward kalros itself. such choices are always orchestrated from afar. and destruction he relates to Kujan. Verbal is presented throughout the film as a passive. faces. extracting the story of how Keaton and the others in his crew." cannot be reinscribed within a subjectabject dichotomy where the environment detennines the individual. He capitalizes on his seeming misfortune and is able to slip away unscathed. The exception appears to be Verbal. Kujan is convinced that a former detective gone bad. Gramercy Pictures. and kairos spatially.

238). Janet M." see Hayles 1999 and JAC20. 1: 97-1 12.66. as Hegel once claimed. while Dobrin and Weisser have been ardent advocates of an environmental approach to composition. dispersed. Rlakesley's reading. Clark 1997 and Hutchins 1995. must be it thought that a decision is carried out by Helen. Vitanza points out that Untersteiner also falls into nostalgia. 100-140. constructed from a variety of sources. Collin Gifford. M reading here has some similarities with Blakesley's. from a scientific orientation. If. 5. who argues y that in a first time viewing the audience typically attributes the narrative to Verbal." In The Tministic Screer~: Rhetorical Perspectiues on Film. as when he asserts that. lapsing into what Vitanza 1.Johnson 2001 provides a populist account." In Mappir~g i i i e k . and levied mistrust toward asystematic inventional forms." JAC 24. rational of concepts. Ithaca. Untersteiner himself falls away from the consequences of his own arguments concerning the will of kairos. who distinguishes between posthumanism and postmodernism. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press. a nostalgia for being at home in the logos (1997. suggesting that at some level there is ambiguity about the locus of invention. David. 4 (2000). It should be noted that this aphorism is possibly inauthentic. I have previously written on ambience in the essay "In the House of Doing: Rhetoric and the Kairos of Ambience. In rhetoric and composition. Works Cited Althusser. . because dialectical reason as the a~fgeh~oben oppoof sites like subject and object is no longer a conception adequate for understanding kairotic space-time. no. in regards to Gorgias's Encolr~ium. For an illuminating discussion of the role of passivity in contemporary thought. What a conception of kairotic environs shows is that such an abandonment is equally an embracement. "Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses Ideology. and yet validated." Rhetoric Rmiau 7. no. In the humanities. Notes For useful overviews of the term "posthuman. Given that the tradition has judged kairos as irrational heretofore. "Stasis and Kairos: Principles of Social Construction in Classical Rhetoric. we might well reconsider these prior conceptions of rationality. "Sophistry. Syverson 1999 discusses composition as an ecology. and activity throughout the ambient environs points to a rebeginning for what rationality is or can become. while a close. including his own knowledge and biases. 4 (2004): 901-27. a special issue on posthuman rhetorics edited by John Muckelbauer and Debra Hawhee. and perhaps therefore uncanny rationality. Rhton'c Reclaimd: Aristotle a ~ the Liberal Arts Trad dition. and one with quite ancient roots. Magic. producing a monograph (Dobrin and Weisser 2002) and an edited collection (Weisser and Dobrin 2001). Challenged. Carter. it must also go beyond-Heidegger's existential analytic. "Forgetting to Be (Post)Human: Media and Memory in a Kairotic Age. 2. a rebeginning that builds on-though as Vitanza shows.86 Thomas Rickert characterizes as homesickness. which in miniature glosses Hegel's philosophy of rationality as dialectical progression. is implicitly both challenged and validated by an emplaced kairos. Brooke. 1998. ed. 4: 775-95. also depends on a notion of subjectivity dispersed throughout an environs. 7.spects. Slavoj (Notes towards an Investigation). second viewing suggests that it is more probably Kujan's narrative. 3. see Sprague 2001. Atwill. Hayles 1999 and Taylor 2001 are useful. for our posthuman-being-in-the-world is also an inventional attunement to an emplaced. see Wall 1999. with very little coming from Verbal (Blakesley 2003.791). 2003. then. Blakesley. Louis. David Blakesley. Of particular relevance here are. this in part means a revaluing of partiality and an abandonment of the drive for mastery and control through the will to knowledge (2000. There is a growing body of work scattered across many fields that explores similar issues concerning the material environment and human activity. 234-45. 1994. 2000. even if he finally settles on Kujan as the primary contributor. 4. 1988. New York: Verso. 291). Hegel's dictum that the rational is actual and the actual is rational (Hegel 1952). no. 6. we need an adequate definition of reason. NY: Cornell University Press. Michael. no. In this way. see in particular Brooke (2000). the work now ongoing on the importance of place and the dispersal of subjectivity. As Brooke suggests. and the Vilifying Rhetoric of The Usunl Su." JAC 20. ed. knowledge.

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