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149 Mētis Humans have always exercised the right to make choices about the anatomical features that they consider desirable or interesting, and, at times, these options have included rather than excluded women and men with disabilities. —Harlan Hahn, “Can Disability Be Beautiful?” So fa r I h ave of f er ed a brief guided tour through rhetorical history, a moving through and with the bodies of this history. I have suggested that we can read embodied rhetoric and bodied rhetorical history as powered by tension around normativity. I have also explored disability myths and disability rhetorics. My argument is that disability has myriad meanings, many of them positive and generative. Mētis, I will show, is the craft of forging something practical out of these possibilities, practicing an embodied rhetoric, changing the world as we move through it. The key examplar of mētis is the disabled Greek god Hephaestus, and this chapter will focus on his stories. Thus, mētis comes to us through myth, and (for me) is disability rhetoric’s epistemological home, capable of explaining and activating a wide range of available means. To ally disability and rhetoric, one must face the dismissive conclusions of other rhetorical historians: the idea that disability precludes rhetoricity. The historical record seems to reinscribe this dismissal—and we have few stories of orators or rhetors with disabilities. In my first three chapters, I provided an inventory of representations of disability in canonical rhetorical history while also bending our readings into the apocrypha and forward toward contemporary myths. I also showed that we could reclaim an expansive and expanding lexicon of disability rhetorics as available means and as ways to move. 150 • Disa bil it y Rh et or ic In the subtext and the margins of the record, there is always much to learn about the center—understanding the impact of the persistent presence of norms, as well as recognizing the subtle, ghostlike presence of a desire for and an acknowledgment of the rhetorical role of disability. Tanya Titchkosky has suggested that cultural texts may preclude us from viewing disability as “a desired status” or “as a difference that the collective needs” (2007, 6). Instead, most often we are given negative portrayals of disability, such as those in my inventory of disability myths. But she argues that we can develop ways of reading disability differently: “As the space of provocation where we might begin to reread how culture puts our embodiment to text and textures all of our lives” (ibid., 9). In this chapter I will validate and value the possibilities of the nonnormative body and thus create a more expansive machinery for understanding rhetorical embodiment. I will tell the stories of Hephaestus, a Greek god with a disability—a Greek god who embodied mētis, the cunning intelligence needed to adapt to and intervene in a world of change and chance. Hephaestus was the famed inventor, the trickster, the trap builder and machine creator of Greek myth. His body, despite being “crippled,” was celebrated, as I will show.1 I will suggest that Hephaestus’s story has been neglected, but that we can now read it as a challenge to stories of rhetorical history that reinscribe normative ideas about rhetorical facility and about which bodies/minds matter. I will again use theory from the field of disability studies in order to analyze the function of such norms and to disrupt our acceptance of an ableist view of rhetorical history. 1. I recognize the problem posed by the use of the term celebrate. As Morris Young has pointed out (in comments on a very early version of this chapter), one of the dominant tropes for the recognition of marginalized groups by the majority is celebration. For instance, North Americans celebrate the novelty of Chinese New Year or hold “Taste of Thailand” fairs to celebrate cuisine, but these actions do not address other cultural exclusions , nor do they offer multifaceted cultural roles—the celebration is often a celebration of stereotypes, or of the Americanization of a foreign custom or food. But I will refer specifically to a particular celebration later in this chapter, and so I choose to use the word throughout. Mētis 151 Double or Divergent Orientation Mitchell and Snyder suggest that there was just one Greek god with a disability , Hephaestus, and they use this evidence to argue for the centrality of bodily ideals in antiquity (2001c, 213). But, in fact, there was also Thersites , and there...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780815652335
Related ISBN
9780815633242
MARC Record
OCLC
871210777
Pages
304
Launched on MUSE
2014-03-10
Language
English
Open Access
No
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