Syntheton (sin’-the-ton): When by convention two words are joined by a conjunction for emphasis.

Up and down. Off and on. Good and evil. Permanence and change. These dialectically situated markers denote the imbalanced trajectories of our lives. We wander back and forth along the limits of their otherness. Sometime for desired purposes. Sometimes by accident. Sometimes by necessity. Psychically, we may fluctuate between up and down, possibly taking medication to pin us to the middle (wherever that is). Physically, the fluctuation may depend on the terrain, as we climb and descend, take off and land.

Off and on: flip the switch due to a desire for light; off the platform, onto the train; off the record, on the record, off the deep end. The tensions involve timing and anxieties over disclosures and unwarranted excesses. Maybe I’m just off my rocker.

Good and evil: Ha ha! Can we get beyond them like Nietzsche asks? That’s all I have to say here, except all they have as markers of these two extremes are paradigm cases, particular instances bearing the weight of their idea as in Nazis and Jesus.

Permanence and change: things are permanently changing. That’s everything, but in infinite ways. The worship of permanence is the greatest and most destructive activity that humans may perform. It leads to apathy, slavery, and an obsession with worship and its means. It marginalizes coping as a fundamental life skill and subordinates everything to rites and rituals as displays of truth’s penetration into suppliants’ forged souls. Change is the harbinger of creativity and the foundation of one’s humanity, allowing for, and tolerating, the cacophony of human existence—the uniqueness of each of us circumscribed by similar exigences—the common experience, the disparate responses that need to be bridged to work collectively— to accomplish the greatest things; the things we cannot do alone: this is persuasion’s work: to build bridges connecting hope and fear, perpetuating persuasion in a spirit of love, the only thing worth retrieving from Permanence’s graveyard and resuscitating in service of persuasion: love.

Listen to public speech. If it lacks a loving tenor you must reject it, but first, you must learn what love is. I think the Apostle Paul can help, in 1 Corinthians 13.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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