Monday, November 17, 2014

Kairos in Cowing

* From Wikipedia: Kairos is an ancient Greek word meaning the right or opportune moment (the supreme moment). The ancient Greeks had two words for time, chronos and kairos. While the former refers to chronological or sequential time, the latter signifies a time lapse, a moment of indeterminate time in which everything happens. What is happening when referring to kairos depends on who is using the word. While chronos is quantitative, kairos has a qualitative, permanent nature.

It's not like I'm home alone reading a class assignment and blogging in a cow suit. My cat Phoebe's here. This is one of those times in the ole Cow Suit Saturday blog when I wonder if I'm absolutely nuts. Do people who are truly crazy know they are crazy? Do they care? Tonight I don't really care because we've had the first big snow storm of the season and my house is freezing. The cow suit is warm and comfy. A cold pre-winter night is a perfectly suitable time to cow.

This is the last blogging assignment for my Topics in Professional Writing Class at ISU. Moo-ray! I've enjoyed the class and the new spin it's put on how we write and in what mediums nowadays, but I need to get back to the gym.

This chapter is titled "Story Development (Argument)." I detest arguing. I'm usually good for a few back-and-forths, and then I'm done. And, definitely when it starts to get personal, I'm out. But I do enjoy reading, hearing or seeing an argument developed in a good story with a blend of our textbook's touted logos, ethos, pathos and kairos.

Sometimes I like it when my mind gets changed. I love that sense of enlightenment even if it is fleeting, and I love having the hope that if I can change my mind, others can too.

To recap, logos means logic; ethos means credibility, pathos means emotion and kairos as noted above means timing. In taking this class, I hoped to expand my writing skills to become a better technical writer but that's not really been a focus of the class.  I've been able to apply a lot to blogging and column-writing, though, so I have high hopes of monumental self-improvement as these settle into my comprehension. It's been nice to take a class with improvement as a goal and not making a grade or keeping a scholarship.

This chapter discusses the use of explicit versus implicit arguments in not only writing, but in photographs, audio and visual media As part of this chapter, our assignment is to create a podcast with a couple classmates.

I'd forgotten the chore it can be to coordinate fellow students' schedules and ideas. Who takes the lead? Who defers? How are meeting times and topics chosen?

We had a couple email threads which could be summarized by...

- Hey, we are in a group together.
- Cool. Can we talk about a topic after we all turn in our last assignment?
- Sure.

Then I sent out the following email:

Well...since I've completely used this class self-servingly to help me with my blog, I'll just throw it out there... We could meet somewhere in my cow suits, have a cup of coffee, a bagel, just gather in the SUB, a pub or anywhere and then talk about just that experience: Wearing a cow suit in public in November and anything it does or doesn't evoke from others or from within. The blog is at in case you are even remotely interested. And truly--it's just an idea. Some people are up for cowing; some aren't. It's cool. 

As I wrote that email, I crafted my words carefully. I considered attaching a link to the video below that I assembled for our previous assignment to bolster my "argument" to discuss cowing in a podcast. I could break it down as follows:

Logos: I have suits. Topic would be simple, unique & determined.
Ethos:  *I* am an expert cow & wouldn't lead you astray. Look. I've done this. You can, too.
Pathos: Don't you want a topic nailed down? Look at the smiles! Listen to the music! Don't you wanna cow? Along with doing an assignment, you could have fun!
Kairos: Tick-tock. The assignment is due, so we better hurry & decide on something.

I didn't do that, though, because I really don't want to corral people into a cow suit if they'd hate it or think it's stupid. It's supposed to be fun. I really was just throwing the idea out there because cowing is often on my mind, and it  would be a simple and unique podcast.  I made a point NOT to try to sell something if they weren't in the market to buy, but I should have made a point to communicate that I would like to get a plan in place ASAP. (As an aside, we are going to talk about how winter is upon us and all that is entailed in the cold, driving and other adjustments to life with a changing season. And despite the temptation, I will not show up to our recording meeting in a cow suit. Most likely.)

In addition to heeding the four "rhetorical appeals" above, the chapter reminds us to pay attention to the message, audience, design, medium and genre in our argument/story development. And indeed. I've been considering them in almost all of my communication lately because I feel like I'm in a constant state of developing stories or presenting some form of argument.

Audience is tricky with the dual nature of a class assignment within a blog (this particular blog) and it feels impossible to speak to them all.
(1) I'm talking to myself in the journal-esque reasons and ways one blogs.
(2) I'm talking to readers in the way that blogs could be book chapters.
(3) I'm writing to my professor who's likely got a combination of wanting to ensure I did and understand the assignment along with wanting to get the $#@! grading done.

(1) and (2) above seem near impossible in this one but I hope the earlier use of bold and italics of chapter references along with the previous class discussion at least secure a lil partial credit in my pursuit of (3)

I have hash-tagged on Twitter #alwaystimetocow and while I experience that over and over, there's #neverenoughtimetowrite.  The kairos in my cowing is always better than in my writing. With more and more practice and training now and then, I hope I can better balance the two.

I'll get right on that after the semester. And after the gym. And after I watch this collection of fun just one more time...

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