Tag Archives: merismus

Merismus

Merismus (mer-is’-mus): The dividing of a whole into its parts.


“Divide things up between us”—sounds easy, up front, before you actually have to do it. When I was a kid, I was first acquainted with division vexations. We were only 15 years old, but we had a gang called the “Phantoms.” We were like the junior auxiliary to the “Titans,” a gang that had been doing business since right after the Revolutionary War. During the War they harassed Loyalists by stealing livestock, kidnapping Loyalists’ wives, and occasionally burning down a manor house and freeing the slaves of rich plantation owners. The Redcoats were often hot on their trail, but their superior knowledge of the lay of the land enabled them, most of the time, to evade capture. If they were caught, they were hanged without a trial. So, you could believe they were courageous.

When the War ended they got nothing—no recognition, no pensions, no nothing. So, they turned to crime, and still, after 100s of years that’s what they do. They specialize in arson, burglary, extortion, and hijacked shipments of CBD supplements. There are 12 members in the gang. If the booty from a given job isn’t an even number, or if there isn’t enough to go around, the Titans play rock/paper/scissors, breaking off into two person teams, that determine through a process of elimination, who gets a share of the booty. This process of elimination has kept them from killing each other ever since the gang’s inception, when “Luke Cold” Fawcet instituted the practice after returning from Sicily and assembling the first Titans into a European-style gang.

Unlike the Titans, the Phantoms used what we called “slash and burn.” In our adolescent minds, destruction was a favored option. When we couldn’t evenly divide, we either got rid of the whole haul, or we destroyed pieces until we got to an even number. We would squabble over how to effect the surplus’s destruction. It was usually accomplished by burning it, or throwing it off a bridge into a river. This worked beautifully. For example, we had stolen a truckload of Izod shirts that were being delivered to some upscale specialty store in NYC named “Hammermacthers.” We ended up with an odd number that we had to divide between an even number of gang members. Solution: burn the surplus shirts, and everybody would get the same size piece of the pie. Worked perfect! Then, Joey Freehand proposed a new idea:

Give what we can’t divide to widows and orphans. We could open a front and give stuff away that was supposedly “donated” by civic minded people and organizations. We had the cops covered. They “promised” not to look for stolen goods as long as we kept making “donations” to the police force. For a gang of adolescents, we were top-notch wiseguys. We named our store “Angel’s Outlet.” There’s a sign on the door that says “Widows and Orphans Only.” They had to show proof. Sometimes it was gruesome, but usually it was a death certificate. Once inside, they were allowed one item for free, and had to pay for the rest. We took only cash or gold or silver jewelry. Some of the widows tried to make a trade for something they wanted in addition to their free item. It was sad. Toaster ovens were frequently offered along with blenders, and even Pyrex casserole dishes. Our policy was “No Never” for everything but jewelry. I felt guilty enforcing it, but we didn’t want to be stuck with used crap, when our cache was “all brand new stuff.”

When I graduated from high school, I got out of the rackets. I went to college in New Hampshire and put my past behind me—so I thought. One of the orphans from my gang days was in most of my classes. We were both majoring in Anthropology. Her name was Ludmilla, and both of her parents had perished in a tornado that had ripped through south Florida. She recognized me immediately and told me she was still grateful for what the Phantoms had done for her. She told me she wanted to show me how grateful she was, if I would come to her dorm room at 11:00pm. I agreed, and showed up at 11. She was standing there with a ziplock bag. She handed it to me: “This is a remnant of my father: one of his glass eyes. It is precious to me. I have his other eye. If we each have one, it will make us a couple.” I looked at the glass eye. I thought, “What the hell.” We had the eyeballs made into pendants. We always joked that we could “see” how much we loved each other. After college, we studied further and became optometrists. We’d start each day by saying “the eyes have it.” We had a daughter we named “Hazel” named after the color of the glass eyes.


Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu).

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Merismus

Merismus (mer-is’-mus): The dividing of a whole into its parts.

Not every whole has parts, but can you call something a whole if it does not have parts? What about Moses parting the Red Sea? Or, me parting my hair? Then there’s the bomb that blows things apart. Dividing a whole into its parts implies that it has parts in the first place, and the division is of concepts or entities that are correctly construed as the bound-together ensemble ‘making up’ a given whole.

In discourse, there are many good reasons for dividing wholes into parts. And also, from a different perspective, assembling parts into wholes, like an IKEA adventure, or a Christmas dollhouse, or stringing beads onto a necklace. But that’s not what we’re talking about. We’re talking about wholes. Their division makes things easier to remember, for speaker and listener. It gives a discourse the sense that it’s going somewhere as each part lapses and fades into the next. In addition, the part/whole division gives the discourse a suspenseful aura by building in the anticipation of what’s next by proffering previewed parts. Let me demonstrate:

This is an orange. It is spherical, and guess what? It is orange. Ha ha. It has four parts: the skin, the fruit, the seeds, the stem. I’ll be covering each part in the order I just listed them. So first, the orange’s skin. . .

If you think about it, you can divide just about anything into parts, even if it makes you bitter, angry, and depressed. Take my first marriage, for example. It had three parts: 1. We got married, 2. She cheated, 3. We got divorced. See, I don’t even need to go into detail to give you a clear picture of what happened. Now, let’s look at my most recent business catastrophe: 1. I took out a government-backed small business loan, 2. Nobody wanted popcorn coconut smoothies, 3. I went bankrupt, 4. I am in debt up to my ass until 2030.

Well, there you have it. You know the old saying: If you have the parts you have the whole. This in itself can be a further employment of the part/whole strategy: you can deter people by showing them they don’t have the parts: If your shoe does not have laces, you can’t go for a comfortable walk. So, forget it. Oh, I can sell you some shoelaces. How badly do you want to go for a comfortable walk? A lot? Not much? Not at all?


Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu)

Buy a print edition of The Daily Trope! The print edition is entitled The Book of Tropes and is available on Amazon for $9.99. A Kindle edition is available for $5.99.

Merismus

Merismus (mer-is’-mus): The dividing of a whole into its parts.

The Trump Administration is divided into four uneven parts: family, friends, business associates, and lies. “Lies” almost accounts for all of the Administration’s total size.

Trump’s latest lie: “I don’t wear underpants.” Definite lie–you can see the elastic waistband sticking out of his pants. One can only speculate as to why he would lie about wearing underpants. We think it may be because Putin does not wear underpants–this is a verified fact. Given the esteem that Trump holds Putin in, we can easily see why he would lie about his own underpants.  The question is, though, “Why lie about your underpants when you can just pull them off and ‘go commando’ (like Putin) for real?” We’ll have to ask this question at the next press briefing. We’re sure Kommander Huckabee will answer right up! That is, there’s got to be a good policy driven answer to the underpants question & we’ll find it! It will be a snap (ha ha)

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu)

Buy a print edition of The Daily Trope! The print edition is entitled The Book of Tropes and is available on Amazon for $9.99. A Kindle edition is available for $5.99.

 

Merismus

Merismus (mer-is’-mus): The dividing of a whole into its parts.

On a typical clock time is divided into hours, minutes, and seconds. Time consciousness is another thing altogether.

But more importantly, being unconscious of time (the past, the present, and the future; the hours, minutes, and seconds; the years, the months, the weeks and the days; the birthdays, the anniversaries, and the recurring rituals bound by cultured increments meting out patterns that punctuate, articulate, and constitute social seasons and their knocks of opportunity) one may encounter the goddess Ananke seated in the beat of one’s heart.

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu)

Merismus

Merismus (mer-is’-mus): The dividing of a whole into its parts.

The most advantageous plan has six key ingredients: money, more money, lots more money, money, money, money. Get it? It’s going to take money–a whole lot of money to do it right.

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu)

Merismus

Merismus (mer-is’-mus): The dividing of a whole into its parts.

This plan has two key parts: its costs and its benefits. First, let’s take a look at its costs.

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu)

Merismus

Merismus (mer-is’-mus): The dividing of a whole into its parts.

Morning, noon, and night–three times to eat, three times to sleep, three times to work, three times to play–three times for everything. Time and what I do with it–two different things.  One is set by WWV.  The other is set by me.

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu)

Distributio

Distributio (dis-tri-bu’-ti-o): (1) Assigning roles among or specifying the duties of a list of people, sometimes accompanied by a conclusion.  (2) Sometimes this term is simply a synonym for diaeresis or merismus, which are more general figures involving division.

The President is the Decider, the Vice President likes to decide what the Decider decides, hoping that the Supreme Court will decide to side with the Decider, while Congress often takes so many sides it can’t decide, and everybody else is undecided, except the Pundits, who get their information from insiders (who’re all on somebody’s side) and pollsters (who’re on the outside).

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu).

Merismus

Merismus (mer-is’-mus): The dividing of a whole into its parts.

The USA is made up of states, counties, parishes, townships, towns, cities, neighborhoods & more–so much more!

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu)

Merismus

Merismus (mer-is’-mus): The dividing of a whole into its parts.

My truck has a rusted body, bald tires, a clattering engine, squeaky brakes, a broken radio, worn out seats, a cracked windshield, and a smoky tailpipe. Should I call the junkyard?

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu)