home in the world of appearances. The stability of the familiar and the persistence of the recognizable lend a solidity to one another. Yet it is in their very particularity that appearance can begin to seem ambiguous or even equivocal and incomplete. When we have some stake, or interest, in the array of things around us. . . . we are not likely to be concerned with an underlying cause or a larger, more inclusive general opinion. For the particularity of things has become a provocation. We cannot leave well enough alone ( Farrell 27).
The city has long demanded of us a rhetoric of visibility -- beyond appearances. For the city to become visible, we may embrace an attitude of seeing, one that is characterized by a constituent discursive movement from particularity to specificity, a critical examination motivated by conscience and by the desire to propose new knowledge. In the space of the city, recognition also involves a reckoning -- with history, with ideology, and with the ontologic status of our common places. If we are patient and appropriately curious, the city's contact points will yield what Benjamin once termed the "dialectic image," an interpretive moment whereby the familiar is made comfortably strange and the strange is made irresistibly familiar. Such promise the rhetorical city holds.
Cresswell Tim. In Place/Out of Place: Geography, Ideology, and Transgression. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 1996.
Farrell Thomas B. Norms of Rhetorical Culture. New Haven: Yale UP, 1993.
Miller Susan. "New Discourse City: An Alternative Model for Collaboration." Writing With: New Directions in Collaborative Teaching, Learning, and Research. Ed. Sally Barr Reagan, Thomas Fox , and David Bleich. Albany: State U of New York P, 1994. 284-99.
Sennett Richard. The Conscience of the Eye: The Design and Social Life of Cities. New York: Norton, 1990.
-----. The Fall of Public Man. New York: Norton, 1974.
-----. The Uses of Disorder: Personal Identity and City Life. New York: Norton, 1970.
Williams Raymond. Keywords: A Vocabulary of Culture and Society. New York: Oxford UP, 1981.