Book Note: Persuasion and Rhetoric by Carlo Michelstaedter #10

Their memory is made up of nodules of dispositions awaiting conventional forms to be recognized; and referring to them with words, people do not communicate or express them but signify them to others in a manner satisfactory for life's everyday uses. Just as a man turns a lever or presses a button of a machine to have certain reactions, which he knows by their manifestations, by the necessities they furnish-though he does not know whence they proceed and he does not know how to create them-so he relates to them only by means of the conventional sign. Thus does the man in society act: he finds the conventional sign on the keyboard prepared like a note on a piano. And conventional signs join together in conventional ways, in made-up complexes. He plays not his own melody but phrases prescribed by others. 

Does it then follow that no signs of any making are to be followed after the old ones have been fine away with? Michelstaedter only hints at what might follow the overthrow of rhetoric and just what the positive alternative would look like. Persuasion remains something of an abstraction.