Rhetorical Précis Learner Challenge

Snehita Bonthu

Write Rhetorical Précis for the articles given below.

Why Is Art So Expensive?

Money is a medium of exchange. We exchange it for something we either need or want. We have to give it up in amounts based on “values” that are set by a multitude of factors. Although there are those who assert that art may have “intrinsic value,” I'm not certain there is anything in this world today that is priced at its “intrinsic value.” What would that be? Construction materials plus some preset labor cost plus an agreed-upon “fair” profit margin? I don't believe even our food is priced like that these days. If Chile can raise the price on cherries in the winter, you'd better believe they will.

Everything I can think of is priced based on supply and demand. And that is also true of art. With art that was created by dead guys (not so many dead gals), scarcity is a real factor. There aren't too many Vermeers running around, so this dramatically affects pricing. He won't be making any more.

When it comes to living artists, other factors become involved. Presumably, the demand is not limited, although some artists only create (or say they only create, or their dealers say they only create) a limited number of works. However, any specific artwork is unique. And artists and dealers do other things in an effort to create value—the perception that the art has present, or future potential, value. They facilitate getting the artist's work written up by magazines, put into museums, or placed into well-known collections. This gives the artist's work third-party blessings—kind of like having your significant other approved by the family before he proposes, or the vintage car signed off by five mechanics before you write the check. It doesn't really mean the significant other won't leave you or the car won't break down two blocks later, but you feel reassured.

And art is like other items. Paintings are priced—and valued—in relationship to each other, within an extremely large and niched marketplace. It's like food or cars. Oranges aren't affected by the pricing of steaks, nor are Fords affected by the pricing of Mercedes, except in very large scale. Same thing with art. Those questionable thousand-dollar glass shards that prompted your question are priced relative to other similarly silly kinds of contemporary “artworks” (and the marketplace between dealers and collectors of those kinds of works), but are completely unaffected by the pricing of a Van Gogh masterpiece or a contemporary landscape. Each are bought, sold, and priced within individual marketplaces.

The other thing to remember when you see price tags on artworks, those numbers are ask—they aren't necessarily get.

Should Abortion Be Legal?

by Bob Johnson

Should abortion be legal? This article will draw a distinction between abortion for convenience sake, and abortion for medical reasons, as well as abortion in the limited cases of rape/incest.

Looking at the issue of abortion, relying solely on reason which is a requirement of being a Deist, it becomes obvious that abortion for convenience sake is wrong. The key argument for proponents of this act is that a woman has a right to her own body. This is a true and correct statement. All people have a right to do to their own bodies what they will. However, the fetus, or unborn baby, is a distinct individual. Even though it resides inside its mother, it is a separate entity genetically. Its DNA is completely its own, and different from its mother's DNA. From the moment of conception, it is an entirely separate genetic individual. Therefore, the argument in favor of abortion on demand, or abortion for convenience sake, that a woman has a right to do as she wishes to her own body, is not applicable to the question of abortion, since the mother's body is different from that of her baby, or fetus. It does not matter what a group of men in the form of the US Supreme Court said about the issue in Roe v. Wade. What matters to a Deist is reason, reality, and life, not opinion.

Regarding abortion for medical reasons where the mother's life is in jeopardy, that should be left to the discretion of the mother, family, and doctor. It's true, the mother and the unborn baby are still two separate individuals/entities, but under these difficult circumstances, it's truly a personal decision for those directly involved. It's akin to a mother and child falling into dangerous river rapids and a family member or bystander must decide who to save. It's a terrible decision that must be made. Regardless of the decision, one life will be lost and one saved. This situation differs so fundamentally from abortion on demand, which is to kill the unborn baby for convenience, as opposed to choosing which life will be saved.

Abortion in cases of rape and/or incest should be treated the same as abortion for medical reasons. It should be up to the victim of the rape or incest what she wants to do in this rare and terrible situation.

The overwhelming number of abortions in the US are done for convenience. As the State of California reported, ". . .abortions for medical reasons are extremely rare ..." Thus, if abortion on demand was made illegal, many thousands of lives would be saved every year. And life is the most valuable gift anyone can give or have.

Here are my example rhetorical précis for the articles above.

Challenge #1 - My Example

Michelle Gaugy, who is an art gallery owner, an author and an art consultant, in his article about art called “Why is art so expensive?” claims that the values of pieces of art are set by a multitude of factors that are reasonable although they seem like they are not. He explains how the age, the rarity, the publicity, the creator, the style, etc. of a particular piece of art play a role in the pricing of that piece of art. His purpose was to explain the rationale behind the pricing and the value of art in order to make people appreciate art pieces that talented artists work hard to create. Michelle Gaugy writes to people who question the value of art to inform them about the reasoning behind the pricing of art.

Challenge #2 - My Example

Bob Johnson, who seems to be a deist due to his passages on a website dedicated to deism, in his political article “Should abortion be legal?” argues that whether abortion is legal or not should be based on whether it is for the sake of convenience or if it is due to medical reasons or cases of rape. He justifies the fact that even though women should have the right to control their bodies, the fetus is a distinct individual with distinct DNA; furthermore, he explains that if it is a medical condition and there is a choice between the unborn baby and the mother, the decision should be up to the mother and her family and also that abortions should be treated the same in case of a rape, where the victim should have a choice to keep the baby or not. The author’s purpose was to show the distinction between the different reasons for abortion in order to describe another perspective to the debate about abortion. Bob Johnson targets the government as his audience to persuade them to make laws on when abortion should be considered legal and when it should be considered illegal.