Eddies in the River: Kairos and Complexity

J. Tirrell

Purdue University

One cannot step twice into the same river, nor can one grasp any mortal substance in a stable condition, but it scatters and again gathers; it forms and dissolves, and approaches and departs.
—Heraclitus


“My” thought—indeed “my” self—appears to be a transient eddy in a river whose banks are difficult to discern.
—Mark C. Taylor

  • What do the connections between kairos and complexity theory imply about the contemporary status of the rhetor?

  • What is the role of the cultural medium of production in the changing status of the rhetor?

  • What are the pedagogical implications of the contemporary status of the rhetor?

To understand our time, we must comprehend complexity, and to comprehend complexity, we must understand what makes this moment different from any other.
—Mark C. Taylor

  • The Postmodern challenge to Enlightenment autonomy

To understand our time, we must comprehend complexity, and to comprehend complexity, we must understand what makes this moment different from any other.
—Mark C. Taylor

  • The Postmodern challenge to Enlightenment autonomy

  • Composition Studies’ connection with rhetorical situation

To understand our time, we must comprehend complexity, and to comprehend complexity, we must understand what makes this moment different from any other.
—Mark C. Taylor

  • The Postmodern challenge to Enlightenment autonomy

  • Composition Studies’ connection with rhetorical situation

  • The rise of digitality

Just like the clock maker metaphors of the Enlightenment, or the dialectical logic of the nineteenth century, the emergent worldview belongs to this moment in time, shaping our thought habits and coloring our perception of the world.
—Steven Johnson

Pedagogical Implications

  • Undertake a gradual shift toward digitally-mediated writing and online formats

  • Contribute to an ongoing conversation through existent material

  • Cultivate a sense of distributed ethos

  • Redefine plagiarism

  • Foster localization, not codification
CCCC 2007 presentation - Google Slides