Virtual Postures

Authored by: Jeff Rice

The Routledge Handbook of Digital Writing and Rhetoric

Print publication date:  April  2018
Online publication date:  April  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138671362
eBook ISBN: 9781315518497
Adobe ISBN:


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I do Bikram yoga twice a week. The other days of the week, I encourage others to join me. In this act of causal argumentation, I am not devoted to my own position regarding yoga’s value or health benefits. Even though I supposedly make an argument regarding Bikram, I do not care if anyone else does yoga. That is, whatever I hope to achieve via this argument (“do yoga because I like yoga”), I have no investment in the outcome. In this moment of self-contradiction, I argue as a phatic response to conversation, as a way to pass time, as a side note to whatever else we are discussing, as a reflection on my day, or as a beginning point for other discussion, not because I want to persuade my friends and colleagues to engage in Bikram yoga. My gesture is not persuasive, not in the sense of argument or changing one’s position or even in the Burkean sense of attitude, “the power to induce or communicate states of mind to readers” without “practical outcome” (50). While I have no practical outcome in mind, my gesture, instead, is virtual because it holds no representational form or spatial position. It does not mimic or imitate non-virtual positions (such as declarations of meaning or argumentative gestures), as Steve Woolgar explains virtuality: “Not only do new virtual activities sit alongside existing ‘real’ activities, but the introduction and use of new ‘virtual’ technologies can actually stimulate more of the corresponding ‘real’ activity” (17). Instead, my gesture has no correspondence in a so-called real world of interactions and rhetorical engagement. My gesture has no fixed identity. It is located nowhere other than in a posture I perform. My gesture, I claim, is digital because of this virtuality. It is a form of digital writing.

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