This is a Book Review

by Joseph W. Robertshaw





Conclusions of the Reviewer


Gries cites the image as a contradiction to Horkheimer and Adorno (1972) in that this image did not lead to passive consumption and the dulling of the mind as they predicted the commodification of art will lead to. Perhaps Gries might consider that in this statement the reasons for such a departure from Horkheimer and Adordo may include that in 1972, the internet did not exist, and such rapid distribution was not possible, nor was the idea of transformation accessible to the common person at that time. It might also be noted that many would agree that the comedic splinter group of the Obama Hope Multiple Image might be seen as a dulling of the mind after a long string of additions by various actors that may have helped to sustain the energy level surrounding the multiple image. Perhaps Horkheimer and Adorno's falling arc is still present but since the time and space continuum are seemingly warped and our understandings of them suspended, we should also allow those older understandings room to move and transform.


I believe this book to be a well measured and deeply intriguing adventure into the impossible. An undertaking such as this one is surely a daunting and expansive effort. Gries has produced a group of principles as a guide, a set of procedures to follow as we, as researchers, collect our data and track the evolutions of these often slippery targets and ways to consider the associations and meaning of these corpuses when they are assembled. While I side with Peter Smagorinsky's call for more detailed methods sections and am never completely satisfied by any methods section, Gries has created method that should be reproduced and adapted widely.


In addition to leaving us a little room to work Gries also challenges us, or more accurately forwards to us the challenge from the many lessons learned in tracking this multiple image. In the context of the Aristotelian canons Gries writes, "Obama Hope challenges us to continue to explore what delivery means for rhetoric, not only in theory but in our classrooms" (286). When we stand and deliver what will be reproduced and what transformations will take place? Gries, in this foray into the tangled web of public discourse and policy, has found a way to make the impossible, assailable.