Saturday, September 12, 2009

The Rhetorical Consideration of Audience (According to Twain)

Audience: A key component of Rhetorical Compostion, Literary Analysis, Usability Testing, Experience Design...

I offer here a little advice on making the most rheotrical hash of this substance. But it is not my advice - no, it is advice from the "great one' himself - Mr. Samuel Clemens. So, enjoy Mark Twain's take on the proer consideration of "audience."


Whenever I am about to publish a book, I feel an impatient desire to know what kind of a book it is. Of course I can find this out only by waiting until the critics shall have printed their reviews. I do know, beforehand, what the verdict of the general public will be, because I have a sure and simple method of ascertaining that. Which is this—if you care to know. I always read the manuscript to a private group of friends, composed as follows:
1. Man and woman with no sense of humor.
2. Man and woman with medium sense of humor.
3. Man and woman with prodigious sense of humor.
4. An intensely practical person.
5. A sentimental person.
6. Person who must have a moral in, and a purpose.
7. Hypercritical person—natural flaw-picker and fault-finder.
8. Enthusiast—person who enjoys anything and everything, almost.
9. Person who watches the others, and applauds or condemns with the majority.
10. Half a dozen bright young girls and boys, unclassified.
11. Person who relishes slang and familiar flippancy.
12. Person who detests them.
13. Person of evenly-balanced judicial mind.
14. Man who always goes to sleep.

These people accurately represent the general public. Their verdict is the sure forecast of the verdict of the general public. There is not a person among them whose opinion is not valuable to me; but the man whom I most depend upon—the man whom I watch with the deepest solicitude—the man who does most toward deciding me as to whether I shall publish the book or burn it, is the man who always goes to sleep. If he drops off within fifteen minutes, I burn the book; if he keeps awake three-quarters of an hour, I publish—and I publish with the greatest confidence, too. For the intent of my works is to entertain; and by making this man comfortable on a sofa and timing him, I can tell within a shade or two what degree of success I am going to achieve. His verdict has burned several books for me—five, to be accurate.

Excerpted from "Who is Mark Twain" by Mark Twain, which can be found at

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

America is... a Nation of Cowards?

Sound bite of the day...

Persuasion depends on handling well matters of Ethos, Kairos, Pathos, and Audience?

Some say you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar...
Jethro said that you catch even more with a dead 'possum.