‘Reaching the Peak of Your Power’, 2016

Dimensions: 380cm x 70cm

Materials: vinyl

‘Reaching the Peak of Your Power’, 2016, plays with the hollowness of language and image through contradictory figures of speech.

In the chapter ‘Turning deliberations into debates’, from the ‘Tropes of Politics: Science, Theory, Rhetoric, Action’, John S Nelson defends the use of oxymorons as being considered ‘confused, incoherent…unintelligible’, regarding the creative nature of oxymorons as a figurative ‘trope’ of language, which both ‘intrigues’ and ‘delights’.

Redefining the argumentative and competing nature of oxymoronic figures of speech as a deliberate pairing that can ‘challenge limits’, Nelson eludes to the push and pull between their adjacency, as enabling their author to ‘fully express temporality’, in effect, splitting an opinion, creating a ‘multiple self’ and a ‘decentered state’.[1]

Through an analysis of compositional techniques of rhetoric applied within postmodern politics, Nelson explores the deceptive, yet effectively persuasive ‘power play of words’ as holding the potential to solve ‘collective problems’ through an ‘interplay of meanings and connections’. Describing the poetics of rhetoric applied within politics, as a form of ‘political myth making’ that is ‘perversely manipulative’ to politically coerce, ‘lure and hook an audience’, Nelson defines the deceptive nature of persuasive speaking as ‘a masquerade of pseudo-substance’.

Characterising the politician who plays with figures of speech, as ‘fishing for agreement’, Nelson contends how, under deliberation, this method empowers the politician to speak to the ‘sensibilities of many’ by “working to keep the stories and the characters of public conversation in the mode of adventure, discovery and persuasion”. [2]

[1] John S. Nelson. ‘Tropes of Politics: Science, Theory, Rhetoric, Action’The University of Wisconsin Press. 1998. p.131-202

[2] IBID., p193