Synonymia (si-no-ni’-mi-a): In general, the use of several synonyms together to amplify or explain a given subject or term. A kind of repetition that adds emotional force or intellectual clarity. Synonymia often occurs in parallel fashion. The Latin synonym, interpretatio, suggests the expository and rational nature of this figure, while another Greek synonym, congeries, suggests the emotive possibilities of this figure.

Big, large, voluminous. That’s how I thought of my mind, somehow equating spaciousness with intelligence. I thought, the more room, the more intelligence. I thought my mind was like Grand Central Station in NYC. But then I realized Grand Central Station was like a toilet—filling and flushing over and over with noisy crowds of human beings, until it quieted at night, whittling down to the P.A. system’s solo announcements of arrivals and departures, offered to the trickle of people coming and going on the late night trains.

Then, I thought “Why do I need a metaphor for my mind anyway?” I was racking my brain, and in mid-rack I was startled. I was metaphorically subjecting my brain to a form of torture—the rack— invented c. 1420 “to extract confessions and incriminating information from suspected traitors, heretics, and conspirators.” I was now experiencing my mind as a rebellious, secret-keeping, traitor. But who was the “I” doing the torturing—inflicting pain on my mind and “racking” it to get it to tell me it’s hidden secrets, revelations, and insights, knowing full well that it could be lying to shield me from some unpalatable trait that I would otherwise manifest. Could it’s revelation change my life? What if I was a serial killer, inactive because I didn’t know I was one—saved by my lying mind’s sublime misdirection? It was almost like “I” was The Grand Inquisitor stretching my mind, until, it would snap and spill out the truth. It seemed like it would be similar to a malfunctioning washing machine flooding a laundromat floor with a foaming mess and offering freedom in an organic blend of scented powders.

The guy who sold me the little pink pill with Porky Pig imprinted on it, had assured me it was recreational, just what I needed to “see” and to answer the big questions. As far as I could see, I was asking questions, but I wasn’t able to see the value, or even possibility, of answering my own questions. The dangerous obsessions with the size of my head induced by the Porky Pig Pill were trickling into the workday when I was supposed to be a hairstylist, snipping and clipping my clientele—restoring their beauty, and sweeping up afterwards. To properly cut hair, I had to be in control—I could wreck somebody’s ‘look’ for a month with just, as they say, “A slip of the wrist.”

Today, my wrist was slipping. I had to make up new names for the hairstyle messes my errant wrists snipped and clipped into being: “Sideburn Ire,” “Boxcar Bangs,” and “Cranial Zig-Zag” are just a few. I pulled it off for a couple of hours, and had to go home so I could put my mind back on the rack. I got to my apartment. I unlocked the door and opened it. I wasn’t surprised. There was big fat man standing in my living room wearing a cheap, frayed, black Inquisitor’s suit. “You called?” he asked in a pleasant and cheerful voice, as if he had been invited to my birthday party. He sat on my couch and asked for something to drink. That’s when I noticed his portable rack set up in my bedroom. I got him a gin and tonic and headed for the bathroom where I could look in the mirror and see me seeing me, and find the “emergency come-down pills” my brother had given me in my Christmas stocking last year. They were guaranteed to stem the psychedelic tide. I slammed down five, and in minutes they started to take effect. I looked across the living room and the Inquisitor was starting to tile like a broken image streaming on a computer screen. Then, he disappeared. I was a little rattled by the glass left on the coffee table—“I put that there,” I told myself. I went into my bedroom to take a nap—this had been a harrowing day. But it wasn’t over: the portable torture rack was still sitting by the window. I folded it up a threw it out the window. It sounded like it landed with a dull thud on top of my wonderful neighbor Edwina. I ran downstairs. Edwina was dead. Somehow, the portable rack had become my bowling ball. It was embedded in the top of Edwina’s head. I am out on bail now and going on trial next week for negligent homicide. I am certain that my testimony and my doctor’s testimony will secure me a place in Gracie Square Hospital.

I will never rack my brain again. Instead, I think I’ll cultivate it like a tomato. I will have ripe and juicy thoughts.

And oh, no more Porky Pig Pills unless it’s a long weekend and I’m tied to a chair.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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