Rhetorical Analysis: seeing through sound Samantha Fuller

To live without one of your senses is a tragedy that many people across the world have to endure day in and day out, but what if there was a way to make living without your sight just a little bit more bearable? What if there was a way to "see" without actually seeing?

In the Documentary "Kish" by Zackary Canepari and Drea Cooper, the every day life of Daniel Kish is explained and exemplified using many different rhetorical techniques and styles. Kish lost both of his eyes at only 13 months of age, but he has taught himself through many years of research and practice to use sonar through sound to help him "see" with his ears.

Sonar sight is thought to be very similar to echo location with dolphins. Daniel even mentions dolphins in the documentary. According to the Marine Biologists that work for Animal Planet, dolphins have very poor eyesight, but use sounds to help them detect their surroundings, much like Daniel does.

The directors made use of comparisons to dolphins quite often actually, and I think that it was very effective in helping the viewers understand exactly what the technique is. It is actually pretty amazing that humans can do this with their bodies because of how sophisticated and complicated it is. In fact, the bio-sonar technique dolphins use is a "very sophisticated high performance system that continues to outperform any man-made system within its operating regime." (Fulton 1).

Dolphins using sonar to find their way

Daniel detects where he is and what he is around by making a "clicking" sound with his mouth and using a cane to feel around. This clicking sound being played over and over is the first rhetorical technique I noticed. The directors chose to play the clicking sound that Daniel uses almost continuously throughout the film, which I think really helped to show the viewers how often the clicking is used and how important it is to the success of sonar vision.

A visual technique I found effective was the flashing lights and blurry focus that was used at certain points during the film. I think the directors may have done this to give the viewers a glimpse of what its like to have terrible sight, so they could better understand the subject of the film.

How normal light may appear to a visually impaired person

I noticed that Pathos was used in a very light manner. Even if the directors weren't trying to evoke emotion, it was still hard not to feel sorry for Daniel when hearing about him completely losing his eyesight at only 13 months old. This enables the directors to grab the attention of the viewers out of sympathy that they feel for Daniel.

Music, as a rhetorical device in this film, greatly contributes to the mood the viewer is feeling while watching. I wouldn't even call it music actually, more like background sounds that help to create the central feeling of loneliness in this film that someone with no eyesight must feel every day. The eerie, echo-like sounds throughout the film were very successful in making the viewer feel alone and somewhat frightened, like they were walking alone in the dark.

In a study conducted by the Arizona State University music department, It was found that music "seems to affect joyfulness most positively, and does relatively less towards alleviating worry. Energy is also affected more positively.”(Hill 2). While this may be true, music can also be used to evoke other emotions, for example, the eerie, lonely feeling in this film.

The directors also incorporated childhood pictures of Kish, which were honestly very sad and pitiful to look at. The pictures showed Kish as a young boy with two missing eyes, glasses to cover them, and a grin on his face. The pictures were very effective in helping the viewer to understand exactly how long he had been living this way and what he had to endure as a young child.

Pathos was used pretty strongly when Kish himself was speaking about how blind children are not given the same opportunities as normal kids, and how they are looked down on by most people. He spoke about how blind people, no matter what age, have the ability to persevere and learn to live a good life. After researching, Kish is spot on concerning the mistreatment of the blind. According to activist group Action for Blind People, "blind and partially sighted people were four times more likely to be physically abused each day than sighted people." (Lowell 1). This is believed to be because according to Stephen Remington, chief executive of Action, "visually impaired people can be seen as vulnerable and an easy target for anti-social behaviour.” (Lowell 1).

I think the use of pathos mentioned above was very effective in that it forced the viewers to think about how people with disabilities are treated, and then made them realize that those people have the capability to surpass many of the obstacles they are faced with through this sonar technique that Kish uses, which I believe is the whole purpose of this film.

As a viewer of this film, I can most definitely say that I finished this film with a whole new perspective on the blind. There isn't and there shouldn't be a targeted audience for this film, because people of all demographics should be aware of this. I now know just how difficult it is to go against your natural senses to create a new sense. I also know that even though it may be difficult, blind people have the ability to live their lives to the fullest using this incredible technique.

In my opinion, the directors of "Kish" made excellent use of the rhetorical tools used in the film, and couldn't have done anything else to better persuade me into changing the way I previously thought of blind people.

Works Cited

clker.com. Blind Man Image. 9 Nov 2010. accessed 25 March 2017.http://www.clker.com/clipart-77011.html

Fulton, James. "Dolphin Biosonar (Sonar) Echolocation". neuronresearch.net. 15 Jul 2009. accessed 25 March 2017. http://neuronresearch.net/hearing/files/dolphinbiosonar.htm

Hill, Gary. "Study Looks at Relationship Between Music, Mood". asunow.asu.edu. 26 Sept 2008. accessed 25 March 2017. https://asunow.asu.edu/content/study-looks-relationship-between-music-mood

Lovell, Caroline. "Visually Impaired at Greater Abuse Risk". www.communitycare.co.uk. 7 January 2008. accessed 25 March 2017. http://www.communitycare.co.uk/2008/01/07/action-for-blind-people-visually-impaired-at-greater-abuse-risk/

Ortega, Zaida. Echolocation. fineartamerica.com. 31 March 2012. accessed 25 March 2017. https://fineartamerica.com/featured/echolocation-i-zaida-ortega.html

Versluis, Jay. Two weeks without glasses. www.versluis.com. 25 June 2011. accessed 26 March 2017. http://www.versluis.com/2011/06/two-weeks-without-glasses/

Reflective memo: My goal in writing this essay was to show my audience how effective the rhetorical techniques in "Kish" were. I wanted to show my audience that my previous thoughts on the blind were completely altered after watching this film. I think while reading this essay you can easily tell that my opinion on the blind has flipped due to the film, and that is evident throughout the whole essay, but especially when I wrote about how I now know that blind people are capable of living a seemingly normal life, which I did not know before. The part I struggled with the most during this essay was probably the digital editing. I am still learning how to use this new program, so my essay may not be the prettiest, but I tried!


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