“There is Already Something Wrong”: Toward a Rhetorical Framework for Aging

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Rick Wysocki

One of my early scholarly interests involved how aging is represented in Western and US discourse. In 2017, I explored this topic in “‘There is Already Something Wrong’: Toward a Rhetorical Framework for Aging,” published by Present Tense: A Journal of Rhetoric in Society. In this piece, I analyze the language of “transhumanists,” such as Ray Kurzweil and Aubrey de Gray, who imagine how aging can be “solved” through technological advancements. I conclude that their rhetoric promotes ultimately misguided ideas about aging and the elderly.

This is a peer-reviewed, open-access piece that can be read using the link I have included here. I’ve also provided the opening paragraph below as a summary of the article.

Link: https://www.presenttensejournal.org/volume-6/there-is-already-something-wrong-toward-a-rhetorical-framework-for-aging/

Opening Paragraph

In a special issue regarding the movement to end aging in the Journal of Aging Studies, John A. Vincent, Emmanuelle Tulle, and John Bond enjoin scholars to consider how a resistance to aging, when accepted uncritically, occludes a number of non-empirical, ethically-charged conversations, including the “nature of the human condition,” ageism and attitudes toward the elderly, biogerontological classification, the benefits and limitations of a biological basis for social policy related to the elderly, and personal lifestyle choices (292). Indeed, as we look toward a future in which the aged population of the United States increases (Heller, Gibbons, and Fisher 329), it is critical that scholars explore not only the emergent movement to end aging but also the phenomenon of aging itself, and that they do so from humanistic as well as scientific perspectives. However, while readers of Present Tense would surely agree that rhetoricians are well equipped for such a task, aging remains an under-discussed topic in our field.