Tutor profile: Ela A.
How does Adam Gopnik use Ethos, Logos and Pathos to enhance authority in “The information: how the internet gets inside us”
In “The Information: How the Internet Gets Inside Us” Gopnik critiques other writers on his topic such as John Powers and Clay Shirkey to enhance his own authority and credibility with his reader, but fails to adequately confront the problem of the internet himself. He employs a satirical tone as evident through his diction and comic analogies. Gopnik traces competing ideas and reduces them to absurdity through the use of analogy. In this regard, he appears to use ethos (appeal to authority), pathos (emotional appeal) and logos (reasoning) equally and effectively. However, Gopnik’s reasoning remains problematic as he appears to simplify psychology. A critic of his essay might also argue that Gopnik relies too much on his own authority and powerful satire, appealing to reader’s interest in comedy rather than serious intellectual debate. As a persuasive essay published in a magazine aimed at a non-academic readership, Gopnik’s essay filled with contemporary cultural references is effective in connecting with and persuading his readers. However, Gopnik undermines his own authority on the topic through his rhetorical strategy and problematic reasoning.
Subject: World History
What does the following historical document tell us about exchanges between Chinese emperors and nomadic kings? What is the role of empire in this context?
The document primarily suggests that interactions between the Chinese and nomadic kings from Central Asia where not always negative and bloody. It further emphasizes that the rich cultural, material, religious and political exchanges between empires and smaller states were often facilitated by the growth/ of empires. Thus, this was of mutual advantage to both the conquerors and the conquered. This is evident as the document describes an exchange of religious ideas and material goods between a Chinese pilgrim and a king of an Oasis state and later a Turkic Chieftain. It describes the means by which Buddhism spread through Central Asia as Xuanzang lectures Yagbu Khan’s court on the Buddhist Scriptures It also reveals how material goods were traded through coinage and silk bolts which were both used as currency at this time. Even though clashes between empires and nomadic groups were often bloody, the document also suggests there were examples of peaceful and diplomatic exchanges with empires that facilitated trade and the spread of ideas In addition, from this account, we learn about political exchanges at the time. The source emphasizes that the Turkic and other nomadic chieftains where in close contact with one another. This created political stability on the Silk Road. Close political interactions thus facilitated the exchange of ideas by making Xuanzang’s journey through a remote mountainous terrain of the “snow mountains” possible. Xuanzang appears impressed by the material goods, religion and culture of the King of Gaochang and the nomadic Chieftains. Hailu extensively lists the gifts of the king of Gaochang, emphasizing vast quantities such as “thirty thousand silver coins, five hundred bolts of damask.” The use of listing suggests Xuanzang is almost in awe of the rich gifts of the king. He is also impressed with the courtesy, as well as the religious and cultural practices of both kings. For example, the king of Gaochang kneels down to Xuanzang, and Yabgu Khan makes a luxurious vegetarian meal while eagerly listening to Xuanzang’s teachings about the Buddha. Thus they appear “civilised” despite Chinese perceptions of the nomads as backward. Even so, Xuanzang’s condescension is evident as he calls Yagbu Khan “only a nomadic King” despite Yagbu Khan’s splendour. However, this perception is challenged as Xuanzang accepts Yagbu Khan’s material wealth and courteousness which fits Chinese beliefs of what was considered “civilised.” The source thus emphasizes the increased cultural understanding and exchange of ideas these interactions gave rise to. Nonetheless, the source is Chinese and as a result, views the Central Asian nomads through the eyes of the Chinese. The growth of empires often resulted in the conquers thinking of their own culture as superior and this is evident through Xuanzang’s and Hailu’s biased perspective. For example Xuanzang even assumes Chinese music to be inherently superior. Although the source is largely positive in capturing the positive nature of cross cultural exchanges, it also subtly reveals the prejudices and arrogance that often remained hidden. The source also gives us a glimpse into the economic links of the time. Although coinage was also in use, the king of Gaochang gives Xuanzang extensive gifts of silk. Silk would have helped Xuanzang pay for his journey to India. It is thus evident that silk became the chief currency of the time. Silk at the time was only produced in China. Thus, the gifts of silk further reflect the extensive international trade available at the time. This brought new luxury products such as Silk into Central Asia and would have benefitted the Turkic elite. The source also captures close political links between empires and smaller states in Central Asia and China. This is evident through the large number of letters both Yagbu Khan and the King of Gaochang write to various other rulers. The King of Gaochang requests Yagbu Khan to “protect your humble servant’s brother Dharma Master... and [to] please order the states to the west to provide postal service.” His trust and confidence in the Chieftain to ensure Xuanzang’s safety emphasizes the strong political co-corporation between states that created the environment that enabled Xuanzang’s trip across central Asia. The use of “humble slave” also highlights the quasi imperial hegemony of powerful chieftains such as Yagbu Khan held over the smaller states such as Gaochang. Thus empires helped retain the political stability and thus ensure safe passages on Silk Road routes. Despite criticism of the growth of empires, the document proves the positive nature of the exchange of religious ideas, cultural understanding and material goods that imperial hegemony in Central Asia brought about. As evidenced through the examination of this source, encounters between large empires, nomadic peoples and other states were not always bloody and oppressive towards weaker states as is commonly perceived. The small state of Gaochang and the quasi-empire of Yagbu Khan benefit from the ideas of the Chinese teacher Xuanzang in this interaction. Furthermore, Yagbu Khan’s quasi empire creates the political circumstances necessary for Xuanzang’s safe passage through central Asia, a crucial factor in economic and cultural exchanges on the Silk Road. In addition, an increased cultural awareness is established in the purpose of the source as Chinese readers’ prejudices of the barbaric nomads are questioned. Thus, exchanges enabled by the existence of empires created the political conditions for the spread of religion, culture and goods that benefitted conquerors and conquered alike.
How do Andrea Alexis and Madeleine Thien explore exile and reconciliation in a father-child relationship? How differently both writers portray father-child relationships?
Simple Recipes and Kuala Lumpur explore the diverse dimensions of exile from the father-child relationship. This process of exile is achieved through trigger events such as death, racial insults and domestic violence. The theme of exile is also evident in the roles of the father and child as immigrant and “child of immigrants” (Ritland) which leads to the cultural dislocation of the son from the father. Thien and Alexis confront alienation from paternal relationships in dissimilar ways. Alienation from the father alters the child’s understanding of the father-figure in problematic ways in both stories, but in Simple Recipes the change leads to an irreversible betrayal. For Michael the father-son relationship becomes reconciled by regarding the “love” towards his father as a timeless and unconditional thing, that transcends cultural alienation and accepts “all the adjectives”(Alexis 408), both good and bad. However, in Simple Recipes, the daughter’s love is weakened by violence, and the son views his father as a mere cultural actor or immigrant. “Love” in Simple Recipes must be reinvented and reduced because the impurities in the father cannot be “pulled out” (Thien 502) or reconciled with, as the impurities in the rice recipe. The daughter’s understanding of her father’s violence is part of an ongoing and “slowly dying” (Thien 504) process of coming to terms with a flawed human being. However, Michael remembers the transcendent “warmth” of his father’s hand amidst his conflicted feelings (Alexis 408). Thien remains “somewhere in a memory” caught in a time she can no longer revisit with her father (Thien 504). While Michael find himself able to love his father for his deeply flawed but human qualities, Thien’s protagonist cannot come to terms with the mangled image of her father, “a face that is only bones and skin” (Thien 504)
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