04 January 2009


i can still remember the first time i ever put any thought to the term kairos. that magical greek word, loosely translated as 'the right time'. it was in a rhetoric class at berkeley with the stupendous and superb professor daniel coffeen. his presentation of kairos, which was almost obsessive compulsive in its articulation, drew me in. to employ kairos was to do the right thing at the right time. the argument was that rhetoric was, in a sense, a study of kairos; and that to be a rhetorician was to be a person who was always able to do the right thing at the right time. whatever the circumstances may be, the rhetorician is able to read a room, a face, a book, a photo, a film, an argument, a lover, a friend, a dinner ... and act in the right way, at the right time, in the right time. it's very wrapped up in time, this concept of kairos. but the rhetorician is not controlled by time, the action of the rhetorician is not dictated. instead, the rhetorician acts not in response to circumstance, but with circumstance. the rhetorician, through a good reading, is able to do what is called for in a certain time & space. it's very wrapped up in space, this concept of kairos

kairos -- "implies that one is not content with knowing general principles but that one is able to determine the moment when it is necessary to act and the precise manner in which to do so in terms of existing circumstances" - M. Foucault

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