"let your boat of life be light, packed with only
what you need - a homely home and simple pleasures, someone to love and someone to love you,
enough to eat and enough to wear
and a little more than enough to drink:
for thirst is a dangerous thing"

Friday, 24 June 2011

can i be chiastic?

i have become a whole lot better about looking up words that i know i have heard before but cannot remember the meaning.  this week i was looking through some course notes for a creative writing course and one of the topics was "the use of chiasmus through the ages in the english language".  a good place to start would be to dust off the dictionary (ok - you caught me out - over to the computer, google, cut and paste).  a shame really the dictionary is becoming defunct.

chiasmus [ky-AZ-mus] (plural -mi), a figure of speech by which the order of the terms in the first of two parallel clauses is reversed in the second. This may involve a repetition of the same words ("Pleasure's a sin, and sometimes sin's a pleasure" —Byron) or just a reversed parallel between two corresponding pairs of ideas … . The figure is especially common in 18th century English poetry, but is also found in prose of all periods. It is named after the Greek letter chi (x), indicating a "criss-cross" arrangement of terms. Adjective: chiastic.

it is so easy to access information today that i feel guilty when i don't check up on meanings and facts (unfortunately i do not remember them for too long). chiasmus sounds a whole lot more posh than it really is and i ended up staying up very late last night reading online excerpts of a book by mardy grothe called "Never Let a Fool Kiss You or a Kiss Fool You".   he traces the use of chiasmus from biblical days through to the present:-

genesis 9:6.

He who sheds the blood of man, by man, shall his blood be shed

isaiah 6:10

Make the heart of this people fat,
and make their ears heavy,
and shut their eyes;
lest they see with their eyes,
and hear with their ears,
and understand with their heart, and convert and be healed

to shakespeare:-

King: Thanks, Rosencrantz and gentle Guildenstern
Queen: Thanks, Guildenstern and gentle Rosencrantz

The world is grown so bad
That wrens make prey where eagles
dare not perch.
Since every Jack became a gentleman,
There's many a gentle person
made a Jack
(King Richard III (1592))

a couple from winston churchill that i had not seen before:-

Now this is not the end
It is not even the beginning of the end
But it is, perhaps,
the end of the beginning

oscar wilde was another master:-

When we are happy we are always good,
but when we are good we are not always happy

I wrote when I did not know life;
now that I do know the meaning of life,
I have no more to write.
Life cannot be written; life can only be lived
(i like that one, clever man)

those are the older and more classic ones. 

in 1991 vanity fair published an edition with a naked (and very pregnant) demi moore on the cover.  her hands and arms were placed to cover certain strategic places.  the photographer annie leibovitz caused controversy by combining sexuality with pregnancy and motherhood.  ellen goodman who wrote for the boston golden globe at the time had this to say:-

a few more:-

Love is the irresistible desire
to be irresistibly desired

or should it be:-
Love is the irresistible desire
to be desired irresistibly

Lust is what makes you keep wanting to do it,
even when you have no desire to be with each other.
Love is what makes you keep wanting to be with each other,
even when you have no desire to do it.
Judith Viorst

I find Paul appealing
and Peale appalling
Adlai Stevenson

Errol Flynn died on a 70-foot boat with a 17-year-old girl.
Walter has always wanted to go that way,
but he's going to settle for a 17-footer with a 70-year-old.
Betsy Maxwell Cronkite, wife of Walter Cronkite.

Charm is a woman's strength …
strength is a man's charm - Havelock Ellis

it is now very late and i am hesitant to publish this post.  this slightly academic post from a nonacademic is probably leaving you wondering what i have been drinking and now is time to confess (one glass of rockfield sauvignon blanc, promise).  really, here is the reason:-

after looking up "chiasmus" and reading bits of "Never Let a Fool Kiss You or a Kiss Fool You" i saw the quote below and had to share.  the only way to include it in the post would be to give you some background:-
"I've been fucking busy
and vice versa"
Dorothy Parker

to include it any other way would just not have been "right" ;)
sorry mum
(and apologies to the two english teachers who read my blog)

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