Calls for praise or blame. Heaped high. And going so far as to interrogate the ground pretty thoroughly. Not superficially. Not obviously. But deep enough to expose assumptions and to draw out implications.

The project assignment complicates the habitual way we want to approach what seems to be a binary. It isn't based on topic but subject. It isn't an essay but a proclamation or exposition. It demands that we set aside general abstractions of + and -, positive and negative. Praise and blame don't provide room to hide in seemingly objective balance or fairness. They do provide space for subjective balance and fairness, however.

The encomium or vituperation demands looking into background, history, contexts, situations, and the future to consider implications. But both also demand close consideration of particulars. It's hard to praise the abstract generality. "I'm here to praise the good because ... it's good." vs "I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him ..." Mark Anthony's speech is a vituperation of Brutus by way of an encomium to Caesar being used to stir the rabble on the specific occasion of Caesar's assassination.

An implication: No linking means the web goes away, along with footnotes, bibliographies and references. Every text becomes self-contained. That could be praised. Or perhaps the linking that deserves vituperation is one particular kind of linking, that stands in some relation to other kinds of linking that ought to be praised ...

Four possible configurations


Praise or blame all those who practice.

Not positive and negative

Those have become too neutral and abstract, too easy to keep at a distance. And you have language prepared for that model, which leads directly to cliched thought. Praise or blame lets us deal with a wider range because we can create an extended argument of praise or blame. In using positive and negative, the tendency is to simply compile a list.

Not praise and blame

If you win a scholarship, the encomium doesn't proceed with, "He has his positive and his negative sides. Let's cover both," and conclude, "Does he deserve this scholarship for his good, or not? Time will tell." That's not an encomium.

It's one or other. If you can't commit, write as though you could. You're creating a free-standing argument, not only a self-expression. Essentially imagining what this argument would look like.

Let the text exemplify the argument

If you praise links, will need to use them. If you blame links, will have to do this w/o referring to anything: Isn't a reference a link? Or you might want to clarify what you're talking about when you mention links and linking.

Draw on Price and Bernstein

There are a number of ways in to Price / Bernstein on linking


But try to get beyond basing your praise or blame on personal preferences. The encomium and vituperation are social arguments made to a very present public. In this kind of rhetorical situation, base your argument less on what you prefer and more on what is worth social praise or blame.

What to consider in considering links

Drafts as of 19 Mar 2015

Read the drafts. Then return to openings. The opening of the drafts seem to signal where they are going.

Consider what an encomium is and what it does.

Consider what it isn't, what it doesn't do.

Consider how to invent arguments for an encomium: What is traditionally considered is listed in Silva Rhetoricae, but develop what else you might consider.

Brainstorm lists of virtues / vices that are appearing as grounds for links and ways of using links
Consider to what use we can put Price and Hypertext Gardens, as well as our own understanding as experts in writing, or at least as students of writing.

Consider why the request is unusual, why it seems difficult.



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