Just finished Jeff Rice's Rhetoric of Cool; got it Thursday and went cover-to-cover pretty quickly. I have been very interested in Jeff's work ever since I dreamt about him about 3 years ago; he has brought McLuhan and Ulmer together more consistely than any other scholar I am aware of.
Because I was familiar with some of the content of the book through his earlier journal contributions, what I liked best was actually the repetition--seeing/hearing him re-iterate the historical argument that composition missed an opportunity in 1963 to ground itself in the emerging technology, the emerging new media, and ultimately in "cool rhetoric," but the field in general chose to stick with print, not just in products but in logic. He makes some really compelling arguments that even the most visual texts and scholars in our field who embrace the "visual" do so from a print-logic biased.
I am frequently struggling with how to frame an argument for the role of McLuhan in composition studies, and what Jeff's book seems to do for me (after one quick read-through) is help me more clearly articulate his reading and use of McLuhan, which in turn will help me articulate my position. By linking McLuhan to cool rhetoric, and by really pushing the envelope for digital and electronic thinking, I can see that Jeff, like his mentor Ulmer, is a little more thoroughly immersed in the logic of electracy than I tend to be. I have been using and playing with the idea of "working at the interface" a lot lately, and by "working at the interface" I mean that I see myself working at the interface of literacy and electracy, print culture and visual culture, text and image, visual and acoustic space. Where Jeff offers the cool compositional strategy of juxtaposition in one chapter, I tend to use Scott McCloud's six patterns of word-picture relationships as a more detailed, and probably print-logical, way to approach the general strategy of composing through juxtaposition. Where Jeff emphasizes the rhetoric of cool, his articulation of that made me realize that I try to teach the rhetoric of hot and cool, and that I think students gain an understanding of both by seeing them placed side-by-side: working at the interface.
I'm looking forward to dipping back into Jeff's earlier "textbook," writing about cool, which I am sure will seem like a whole new text now that I have read The Rhetoric of Cool.