2015.04 Untimely Rhetor

untimely rhetor is a nom de guerre of Ryanson Alessandro Ku, a student of history, political economy, psychoanalysis, poststructuralism, queer theory, empire studies, race studies, postcolonial studies, Filipino/American studies, and comparative literature. Honing the method he calls critical semiotics/genealogy/pragmatics, Ryan’s research interests include imperialism, war, trauma, intimacy, justice, and democracy, his approach tending to focus on economy, sublimation, space/time, utopia/dystopia, race, the queer (sexual and otherwise), and autoimmunity. A frustrated journalist/historian/novelist, Ryan is a PhD student in Comparative Literature at the University of California, Irvine (2009-2018). Before embarking on a life in the humanities, he gained a bachelor’s degree (BS, so to speak) in Economics in Washington, DC. When not reading/writing, Ryan likes to stay informed (through political satire and otherwise), follow well-written TV series, watch wildlife and political documentaries, see historical, sci-fi / fantasy, and foreign films, train at the gym, go hiking, and drink. He has a centaur tattoo on his arm to mark the double—notably, mind/body—not to exclude but as a starting point toward the multiple, a herald of complexity against false choice. He tweets @aleryando and can be reached at untimelyrhetor@gmail.com. His number—well, you gotta get on his good side for that. He lives in Los Angeles.

Ryan’s last major blog was (mass)think (2007-2014), created when he spent a year as an exchange student at Heidelberg (2007-2008) while pursuing master’s degrees in Philosophy and Comparative Literature at Louisiana State University (2005-2009). The crises that Ryan experienced upon moving on to a doctoral program—crises intellectual and otherwise, in the university and the world at large (not least of which the Great Recession of 2008), crises that, along with age, necessarily bring about transformations—made him realize that (mass)think had to end. Many philosophical influences and scholarly interests remain. However, positions recklessly taken in youth are more critically examined, accompanied by a change in perspective as well as his “own” voice, to the extent possible. Indicatively, the style is different. Hopefully, the accumulation of readings over the years provides clearer context and greater depth to the arguments. At the same time, the underlying principles remain consistent. The aim, given the problematic distinction between philosophy and sophistry, is to practice rhetoric from the tensed position between the organic and the resistant. The goal is to view, regard, review—read, if you will—in a way that can only be described as untimely, i.e. “acting counter to our time and thereby acting on our time and, let us hope, for the benefit of a time to come.” Untimely Rhetoric is thus in many ways a continuation, even repetition, of (mass)think (in fact, some posts are revisions of the old), but only in the sense of having gone through, which necessitated that (mass)think end so as to enable Untimely Rhetoric.

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