Heniadys


Hendiadys (hen-di’-a-dis): Expressing a single idea by two nouns [joined by a conjunction] instead of a noun and its qualifier. A method of amplification that adds force.


Night and day. Day and night. Which came first? I don’t care. Or, put another way, what difference does it make? That’s the trouble with numbers. You can count with them, and that’s it. 1, 2, 3 blah blah. And now, with computers, everything can quantified, from the bullet hole in your arm, to the hat on your head. 1, 2, 3, blah blah. Counting can be a waste of time—if you have a bunch of beans to count, why not save some time and decide that you have “many” beans? You don’t count your problems, do you? Instead, you have “a lot” of problems.

Counting everything can lead to greed and excessive worry. You look at your bank account. It has a lot of money in it. The bank counts it and gives you statement reporting with a number the amount of money you have. You see that big number and you want a bigger number Now, you have entered the greedy zone. You have to have more, more, more. You start a real estate scam, you lie to the IRS, you lie to everybody so you can have more, more, more. Now you are all alone. Due to your constant lying, nobody knows who you are any more. You won’t even share your French fries at MacDonalds any more. You are alienated, alone, miserable, all because counting your money made you want more, more, more when you didn’t need it.

And then, there’s the anxiety. You look at your bank account and it says: “Balance, $63.00.” Your rent is due next week. You’re out food. You haven’t paid the utility bill. Your car payment is due tomorrow. Your student loan payment is due in two days, as is your credit card bill. Your phone bill is due today. You get paid $400.00 per week. It is barely enough to pay your bills, let alone, have a life. The crack you expect to fall through gets bigger every day.

Your job is no help. You can’t evade numbers there. You work for “Prestige Pies” making custom pies for the wealthiest people in the world. Some of the pies are named after their noteworthy accomplishments. There’s “The President,” “The FoxNews,” “The Tesla,” etc. At “Prestige Pie’s,” you’re paid by the piece: you get paid in accord with the number of pies you complete on your shift. Your philosophy degree is no good here—here, it’s make the dough fly or you’re fired.

When I talk about myself, it may be in measurable characteristics—shoe size, waist size, weight, head size, etc. We all know this goes nowhere when trying to give another person the means of getting to know you. “You” is a difficult concept to grasp, but it is best done without numbers. You are not your shoe size. You are unique and immeasurable. I learned this in college. When I realized I was not my stuff, it changed my life. I am immeasurable—that means you can’t quantify my being. I am unique, maybe my body is too.

So anyway, when Lawrence Welk used to say “A one, and a two, and a three” and the bubbles started to float from the bubble machine, and the polka music music started to play, it was magical. My sister and I would dance around our tiny living room. My father would yell, “Sit down, you’re blocking the TV.” We knew he was having trouble seeing the woman with the big boobs who was a regular on the show and sang romantic love songs. We would sit down, but we’d still tap our feet and rock back and forth.

Everything can be counted, but it is transformed in the counting, maybe into a collection, like Lawrence Welk’s accordions. But the members of a collection are unique and the same. Maybe unique in essence, but the same in name and number. A one, and a two, and a three.


Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu). Bracketed text added by Gorgias.

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