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Flying Over The Rhetorical Big Country

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[Note: this is the first of two posts summarizing some of the points I'll be covering in my presentation at the Rhetoric Society of America's 2018 Conference in Minneapolis on Thursday May 31st.]
“I see the shapes  I remember from maps. I see the shoreline.  I see the whitecaps.” —Talking Heads, “The Big Country.” 
In “The Big Country,” the final track on More Songs About Buildings and Food, David Byrne describes the experience of looking out of an airplane window and feeling abject disgust at the scene below. From such a height, Byrne looks down on the world with an elevated sense of self. On the surface, “The Big Country” is a rejection of rural, flyover America. What begins with childlike awe shifts in the refrain as Byrne sardonically jeers “I wouldn’t live there if you paid me to.” From such a height, Byrne is able to distance himself from the places he sees. In many ways, the song grapples with scale and the isolation it produces. The album as a whole contends with an in…