Friday, October 22, 2010

Platonic dialogue in the works

In an effort to create a contemporary (or relatively contemporary) Platonic dialogue, I have been working on piecing together journals and letters related to a Hawaiian pastor's calling to Fort Vancouver in the mid-1800s. This pastor, William Kaulehelehe, ended up being in the center of an international conflict at the fort, as a loyal British subject ousted from his home on the banks of the Columbia River, as the U.S. Army tried to bring order to the frontier in the Pacific Northwest. That's a much longer story, but my hope with this part of the dialogue is to present the rhetoric of the period as it influenced his decision but also as it reflected attitudes of the period, and rhetorical strategies.
I'm using the Twitter format as an inspiration and basically taking the actual historic text and adapting it only slightly to the faux-Twitter format.
First comes the script, a draft of which follows, with the analysis to come:

@RevBeaver: @HudsonsBayCo An ordinary, respectable countryman @FortVancouver, with his wife, might promote good behaviour of Sandwich Islanders

@ChiefFactor John (John McLoughlin): Need a trusty educated Hawaiian of good character to read the scriptures and assemble his people for public worship.

@GerritJudd (adviser to the Hawaiian king): @ChiefFactorJohn Wm. R. Kaulehelehe, @WRKaulehelehe!

McLoughlin: Need him to teach, too. And interpret.

Judd: Not as well-qualified as the first person selected but @WRKaulehelehe has good character, is faithful, industrious, and a skillful teacher. High recommendation.

McLoughlin: 10 pounds per annum

Judd: @WRKaulehelehe in regular standing as a member of the church. Wife accompanies him, no doubt will prove herself useful.

McLoughlin: 40 pounds per annum

Judd: @WRKaulehelehe @MaryKaai Go to the Columbia District? 3-4 weeks voyage away. Parish awaits.

Kaulehelehe: Aloha! @KawaiahaoChurch Aloha! @FortVancouver

And I'm working on a delivery prototype that will end up looking something like this:


Rich said...

looking forward to seeing the final draft; looks very interesting, Brett

Emily Loader TTU said...

Wow Brett. I really had a completely different concept of what you were doing prior to reading this post. I absolutely love the creativity in condensing the story in the form of the tweeting dialogue. We don't view twitter as a "dialogue" per se. Especially after we read the long monologues that are presented by Plato, we often think of tweets as somehow just out there for others to read. But they do, in fact, start a conversation. Often a vast, multi-voiced piece of communication.

I hope the project is interesting for us to learn more about a piece of history as well as useful for you in organizing and condensing your thoughts surrounding this event. I believe this lends a hand to your dissertation, right?

Thanks for merging genres. Like the three-minute videos, these are history in a nutshell...just what our society craves.


Ben said...


Really interesting idea. I wonder what sort of design issues you'll uncover. For example, the Twitter-GRAPH is quite interesting just in terms of design. What would be appropriate design for John McLoughlin? How would he design is Twitter profile? I'm thinking a bit about Dr. Baehr here, when he suggested we choose an avatar to represent our persona to the class. Many interesting responses from our classmates...

So, do you represent John? Or does he represent himself? I struggled with representing Aristotle or using A's language to represent his ideas. In the end, I blended the worlds, like a piece of fiction based on real events.

Look forward to seeing the end product!