Both the two most recent discursive anomalies share a theme. That theme is, somewhat unexpectedly, mood. Or, put another way: the way reading a particular text makes you feel, and how that feeling affects your thoughts.
In case you are reading in the future, the two anomalies in question are the ones about Hyde and Booth. Since texts are always retroactively present, you can sneak over to read them without missing a beat. Go on. These words will still be here.
Mood is an underrated concept. Sometimes it is dismissed outright, as part of the overall category of 'feelings'. At other times, it is seen as a distraction from the main point of interest, e.g. 'not being in the mood', 'being in a bad mood'. There is a tendency to see mood as something that happens beside the point, and that reality happens without you while you are distracted by these irrelevant moods of yours.
Besides being both rude and bordering on gaslighting, these takes have the additional drawback of being wrong.
Booth is perhaps most explicit in his discussion of moods. One of his premises is that the reason you keep reading a particular text - a romance novel, a cartoon, a crime novel - is that you want more of whatever it is you are reading. The point is not to see if the lovers stick together, what the punchline might be or whodunnit, but to extend the present experience of reading, whatever it might be. The act of reading the text puts you into a certain (albeit at times intangible) mood, and it is this mood that fiction provides. Far from being a side point, mood is for Booth the express purpose of reading. And, by extension, writing; to create an artifact in the world that conveys the kind of mood the author is interested in conveying, and thus creating an opportunity to explore this mood - both by experiencing it through reading, and by the creative act of criticism.
If you are a podcast listener, you might have experienced a peculiar kind of sensation: that of listening to people talk about something you are utterly uninterested in, but find the discussion itself fascinating and worthwhile. This is the mood Booth writes about; the state of mind the act of partaking of something puts you in, regardless of what the subject matter happens to be.
When Booth says that books are friends, this is what he means. You can pick them off the shelves and read for a while, and be comforted by their company; they raise your mood, as friends are wont to do. His approach to criticism is this: if what you have written can provide good company, then it has merit, and writing should strive to attain such merit. To be good company.
Hyde approaches the same theme from another angle, that of rhetoric and philosophy. Moods are not just something that happens while reading, but are the guiding principle behind our thoughts and actions. If we like the places we inhabit - dwell, in his word - we will act towards them in certain ways, presumably with the intention to preserve and decorate these places. If we do not like them, the mood will be different, and our actions will follow suit. Mood is what motivates us: thus understanding mood means understanding ourselves and our place in the world.
The punk aesthetic can be understood in this light. It defines itself against the status quo and seeks to rebel against it. The point is to be something different than what is on offer by the powers that be. The fact that it is seen as ugly and vulgar by those who are attuned to the mood of the times is one of punk's express aesthetic purposes, and only adds to the appeal of those who share the sentiment.
Hyde maintains that seeing mood as guiding principle places a certain ethical responsibility on us as discursive actors in the world. When we write something, we do not simply convey a certain number of facts in a certain order and with a certain degree of accuracy - we also convey a mood. More so when engaging in public speaking, as our presence defines the mood in the room with regard to the subject matter discussed. What we say and how we say it matters, and it falls upon us to think about our impact on those who listen.
Taken together, these two variations on the theme of mood gives us a foundation on which to build further thinking about critical reading and writing. At its most basic, it allows us to ask what mood a particular artifact puts us in or is written to foster. It also allows us to reflect on our own writing, and ask ourselves if we convey the appropriate mood alongside what we want to say. At its most simple, thinking about moods this way asks us to pay attention, and to act on what we see.
More indirectly, the notion of mood gives us an opening to understand why certain people like certain works or genres. There is no shortage of writers and podcasters who do little else but repackage things that have already been said elsewhere, but who add the element of mood. Being able to understand that it is this mood that draws their audience allows us to understand why they do what they do - 'they' being both audience and authors.
A benign example is why readers like the rapt wittiness of someone like Jane Austen; the way she depicts social interactions and relations is a very distinct kind of mood indeed. On a less pleasant note, many partake of racist media just for the sake of the mood therein: hearing someone else talk about the negroes and their decadent ways gives permission to maintain that mood and mode of thinking. Keeping mood in mind allows us to understand - and critique - these things in a more interesting way.
Closer to home, it also opens the door to understanding home decoration. The point is not just simply to look good, but also to suggest a certain mood. A sidenote, to be sure, but I want to imply the general applicability of these things.
I suspect that both works discussed above might be slightly obscure to the general reader. Booth published the Company We Keep in 1988, and Hyde's anthology about the Ethos of Rhetoric came out in 2004. I also suspect that, should you have stumbled upon these books in the wild, you might not have found them particularly interesting - they are both, in a way, intended for specialized audiences. While the point of writing discursive anomalies about a particular thing is to encourage readers to pick up these things and read for themselves, in this case the point is more to convey the general mood of these two books. To introduce you to a concept you might otherwise miss.
But, then again: that is the point of most writing about writing. -