E X I G E N C E
EXIGENCE “an imperfection marked by urgency; it is a defect, an obstacle, something waiting to be done, a thing which is other than it should be” /// Bitzer
ccording to Lloyd Bitzer, in any rhetorical situation there will be an exigence that organizes the entire process. An “imperfection marked by urgency…a defect, an obstacle, something waiting to be done, a thing which is other than it should be,” an exigence is what inspires the author to write in the first place. Because an exigence occurs at a specific point in time, the rhetor’s reaction time is greatly deterministic of how successful their rhetoric will be. Exigence is unique in that the author addressing it can use their own creativty to control how it is perceived by the audience. This creates several complications because the author of the rhetorical response is the only thing between the nature of the imperfection, and the ears of the audience. This gives the rhetor significant control over things like current events. Today’s writers, editors and publishers, specifically journalists, are completely dependent on exigence. It provides the basis of stories that can
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be traced all over the world. Every war, election, invention, etc. all constitutes an exigence waiting to be addressed. Publishers all want to be the first ones to cover a story, which is made more difficult because of the sheer number of news sources available to the general public today. Due to the fast-paced nature of our digital world, writers must be more precise that ever in finding the right time to address their exigence. If he acts too early, or too late, he has failed to produce effective rhetoric. The opportune moment is critical for a rhetor. Digitally, any exigence can be discovered and addressed within minutes because of the availability of the Internet. A development in the Middle East can be addressed and put online by a journalist on the ground immediately after it happens. Politically, culturally and economically, the spread of information is increasing with speed at an exponential rate, meaning no exigence is unreachable, no problem unsolvable.
APPLICATIONS &EXAMPLES American soldier after the first 1 An invasion of Afghanistan.
A Japanese woman and child sit amidst the destruction of the atomic bomb.
conquer the Berlin wall, 3 Protestors literally and figuratively.
Steve Jobs presents the thinnest computer ever, the MacBook Air.
Johnson is sworn in as presi5 Lydon dent after the assassination of JFK. American family examines an 6 An assault weapon in the 1950s.
A young boy stands gaunt and malnourished in famine ravished Africa.
Protestors show up in the tens of thousands to participate in the Arab Spring.
SPECIAL THANKS TO:
Arthur B. Miller, Rhetorical Exigence Lloyd F. Bitzer, The Rhetorical Situation M. Jimmie Killingsworth, Appeals in Modern Rhetoric