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Clinamen » Gorgias’s Paignion

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Gorgias’s Paignion

Image Credit: “Procedural Art” by hyfen

This is a presentation I delivered at last week’s Conference on College Composition and Communication. It was part of a panel called “Procedures, Play, and Possibility Spaces,” which also included Alex Reid and Matt King.

The presentation examines Gorgias’s famous Encomium of Helen as a procedural argument. Gorgias begins the encomium with a proposition, a procedure that shapes his speech. In the closing lines of that speech, Gorgias explains that it has been a “paignion,” which can be translated as “child’s toy” or “plaything.” Gorgias establishes a possibility space and then plays within it. I argue that the encomium offers us an example of an immersive style of engagement, one that is of use to rhetoricians interested in thinking about where rhetoric intersects with design.

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