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CNF #7: Rhetoric, Lyric Essay: Braided, Hermit Crab

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Kevin Chong

on 4 December 2018

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Transcript of CNF #7: Rhetoric, Lyric Essay: Braided, Hermit Crab

& Lyric Essay Forms
Are rants persuasive? Are they meant to be?
Rhetorical techniques
Lyric Essay
Braided Essay
Hermit Crab Essay
These "poetic essays" or "essayistic poems" give primacy to artfulness over the conveying of information. They forsake narrative line, discursive logic, and the art of persuasion in favor of idiosyncratic meditation. --Seneca Review
A how-to for ending a relationship. An obituary for self-esteem. A physician evaluation on the state of one’s spite. There are many ways an unlikely shell can give an old story new life. Perhaps your attempt to describe a particularly dysfunctional family holiday is falling flat. What if it instead of a narrative, the story was presented as “Ten Tips For a Memorable Thanksgiving!” It could be structured like a homemaker’s magazine article, but packed full of the damning details of family strife.
--Hannah Heimbuch
Begin writing a hermit crab essay in the form of...

1. A recipe.
2. A quiz.
3. An "I Saw You" ad.
Imagine you are the gay owner of a restaurant in Chelsea, a member in good standing of the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, rainbow flag flying out front — and the cretins from the Westboro Baptist Church decide that they want to rent your party room for their annual “God Hates [Homopobic slur]” Sunday brunch. Shouldn’t you have the right to refuse? -- Kevin D. Williamson
My wife and I moved to a house in a Vancouver neighbourhood as it’s begun a demographic shift. In the past few years, homes on our block have changed hands and been torn and rebuilt in a gaudy fashion that doesn’t fit in with the area’s modest origins and jacks up property values. Similarly, the more recent arrivals have a lifestyle and values that don’t feel in sync with the earlier inhabitants. Her son’s eleven-year-old attends a nearby elementary school that has seen its demographics change sharply. The school portraits of the grade ones have a different, well, complexion from the Grade 7s. One member of the Parents Action Committee declines to go to social outings because it seemingly excludes one type of parent.
We live in the Riley Park area of East Vancouver and in our case, it’s more affluent, largely Caucasian professionals moving into a neighbourhood that was largely Asian and building their shrines to Restoration Hardware. For the most part, this demographic displacement is ignored, because it’s part of an implicit natural order.

Why is it then when the opposite happens—when Asian people move into largely white neighbourhoods—that the uproar and resentment is so palpable?
Metaphor & Simile
"But whatever other people surmise, I'm thinking about my children and, believe it or not, Pakistan does have some advantages for them. It is a place where their roots are. They are still young... and they will be assimilated in Canada, but their roots, their culture will always be in Pakistan.

"Living here will be like riding two horses at the same time." --Raja M. Ali Saleem
From "A Braided Heart: Shaping the Lyric Essay" by Brenda Miller

The Challah

I loved challah when I was a child. It had to be bought from a special kosher bakery, the "Delicious Bakery" in the Hughes Shopping Center... They seemed, in fact, the golden loaves of some fairy tale, minted from a factory deep inside a hidden cave, emerging on a conveyer belt and counted out for all the Jews of Northridge.
The Lyric Essay

"Lyric. Essay. How do you think the two fit together?" My students mull over the question, avoiding my eyes, their gaze landing on the glowing challah at the center of the table. "What would be the recipe for a lyric essay?" I ask, "What are the ingredients?

"... Writers like Seneca, Bacon, Sei Shonagon in the 10th century, Montaigne, hundreds of others: all could be said to write essays whose forms were inherently lyric. That is, they did not necessarily follow a linear, narrative line."
French Braids

When I first met Hannah and Sarah, the way into their hearts was to plait their hair in French braids. They had faith in all women over a certain age to be able to braid hair, and so when they came to me with combs and ribbons in hand, I didn't have the heart to disillusion them. It was like a test of my merit as an adult female companion, and their eyes were so eager, so trusting: how could I refuse?
The Braided Essay

...I began to see more clearly that this form wasn't just about fragmentation and juxtaposition; it wasn't really mosaic I was after. There was more of a sense of weaving about it, of interruption and continuation, like the braiding of bread, or of hair. I had to keep my eye on the single strands that came in and out of focus, filaments that glinted differently depending on where they had been. At the same time, I had to keep my eye focused on the single image that held them all together."
"When I see men who look like him or his friends. When I smell beer on a man’s breath. When I smell Polo cologne. When I hear a harsh laugh. When I walk by a group of men, clustered together, and there’s no one else around. When I see a woman being attacked in a movie or on television."
Trigger warnings are, essentially, ratings or protective guidelines for the largely unmoderated Internet. Trigger warnings provide order to the chaos; they are a signal that the content following the warning may be upsetting, may trigger bad memories or reminders of traumatic or sensitive experiences. Trigger warnings allow readers to have a choice—steel yourself and continue reading or protect yourself and look away.
...When I hear the word slut in a certain tone.

...When I visit the gynecologist.

...When. When. When.
You might have heard of a place called Centralia, a modern-day ghost town thanks to a vein of coal that has been burning beneath the ground since 1962, belching up smoke and carbon monoxide, forcing people to flee their homes and poisoning those who refuse. That vein, by the way, is expected to continue burning for another 250 years. So if you haven’t visited Centralia, there’s still time. --Claire Vaye Watkins
STOP TRYING TO get me to fund your fucking album with a Kickstarter campaign. Same goes for getting your merch produced, your motel rooms paid for, and your bar tab settled. It makes you and your bandmates come across as a bunch of shameless and entitled pricks. You don’t see me aggressively asking people to pony up for my summer-long, cross-country cocaine and drunken slut–boning binge. So why is it okay when musicians do this? --Michael Mann
You want a handout? Release some halfway decent music you recorded in your apartment and give it away for free. I’ll come check you out and pay the $10 cover. (I’m speaking as a metaphorical everyman here. I don’t actually pay cover, ever.) Alternatively, get someone who’s really good at filling out forms to play an inconsequential instrument in your band, like the triangle or the bass guitar. While you’re rehearsing, put that fucker to work on grant applications from bloated arts organizations that help destitute, independent musicians like Metric and Arcade Fire pay the catering budgets on their music videos. To quote Alec Baldwin in Glengarry Glen Ross, “Money’s out there. You pick it up, it’s yours. You don’t, I got no sympathy for you.”
Bonus Assignment: I need 3-5 (shy) volunteers to create an "unboxing" video.
"Ordered Pair: (Devising a System of Equality)"

By Raven Burnett

ORDERED PAIR: (Devising a System of Equality)

Solve the following problems:

1. Create A Rational Expressio: Her childhood dog dies. Her mother calls you on the phone and asks you to relay the information because she herself is not tactful in these situations. She gets home at 5:45. It is 3:45 when you receive the news. In these 2 hours devise a means of conveying this information that allows Her to therapeutically mourn the loss of Her dog without becoming so caught up in the reaction of grief that the incident itself gets blown out of proportion.

2. The transitive property of equality: In October of 2001 your friends invite you to a Rock and Roll concert. You accept and purchase tickets. Later that day She informs you that her uncle is getting married for the 4th time and that your presence at the ceremony would be greatly appreciated. Unfortunately, the wedding ceremony conflicts with the concert. When you mention this information to Her, She becomes agitated that you would even consider going to a rock concert instead of Her uncle's wedding. Something about this situation leads you to believe that its resolution will affect the power dynamic of your relationship for years to come.

Choose either to go to the wedding or to the concert and then consult Table 1.1 or 1.2 respectfully. Next, using the information from either Table, graph projections for both of your places in the relationship starting from one year before you made your decision concerning the concert in 2001. Follow it for the next five years. Keep an eye on your "Authority Rating" (Ar) throughout the relationship.

TABLE 1.1:

You chose to go to the wedding:


Year: 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005

Ar: 10 5 4 3 2 1



Year: 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005

Ar: 10 15 16 17 18 19


You chose to go to the concert:


Yea: 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005

Ar: 10 15 16 17 18 19



Year: 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005

Ar: 10 5 4 3 2 1

The Hermit Crab form in
Leslie Jamieson's "The Empathy Exams"
Collage Essay
Rhetoric in CNF
Prose Poetry
Merrill Feitell
"Map Inset: Kansas"
Andrew Wyeth's "Christina's World"
Also called: segmented essays.
Hermit crab essays adopt already existing forms as the container for the writing at hand. --Brenda Miller
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