In hypertext theory, as in philosophy, things often
boil down to (or up from) oscillation between binaries.
Richard Lanham writes in The Electronic Word that electronic texts reincarnate "the binary opposition in Western thought between the philosophers and the rhetoricians"(61). For Lanham, print culture has devalued the rhetorical perspective, the perspective that seeks truth not in fixed or ideal forms but in the very process of seeking understanding. For Lanham, we must (and hypertext helps us) recapture the rhetorical spirit by fore grounding the oscillations between the real and the constructed, the philosophical and the rhetorical, the modern and postmodern. Lanham's call for seeing technology and our selves through the lens of oscillation, like a tall glass of jouissance, appeals to us immediately.
Most hypertext theorists, like most writing theorists, realize that this oscillation is more complex than a simple movement back and forth. When it comes to contemplating ourselves and the world or our writing (as an act) and our writing (as an artifact), we must be thankful for strategies like Lanham's that offer us ways of seeing. Then we must move on to talking about and teaching what we see.
How can we use the theoretical thinking about the tensions between rhetoric and philosophy or between the self and the social world something useful to the writing class? If you've got an idea, join the theory discussion.