Chiasmus (ki-az’-mus): 1. Repetition of ideas in inverted order. 2. Repetition of grammatical structures in inverted order (not to be mistaken with antimetabole, in which identical words are repeated and inverted).
Truths are lies. Lies are truths. Good is evil. Evil is good. I could go on and on with every word paired with its dialectical other. We are caught in a cultural trance. The inversion of goods is a consequence of years of unbridled free speech. When anybody can say whatever they want to say into the internet to be circulated repetitively and globally without the citation of it source, in the guise of reporting a conspiracy, it passes the truth test among masses of people, and motivates collective action among them to act out of fear and anger to put the conspirators down.
The internet is a garbage bump. It is not a clear and rippling reservoir. It may harbor more lies than Hell. Whenever you dip your brain into it, you run the risk of filling it with toxic waste. But how do you distinguish the poison from the cure? Many actual insights garner ridicule and even banishment to their proponents. The Earth is round? Ha ha! Lunatic! Lock him up. Burn him at the stake! What did it take to get “round” certified as the shape of the earth? I’m sure the story is told somewhere, but I don’t know where. Do you? The roundness certified by the view from a spaceship? That’s my point of reference, but who knows for sure? Is it a Hollywood stunt? Some people think so. Are they a paradigm case of healthy doubt, or totally nuts, or both?
Now we come to flat-out lying. Almost daily, some politician is caught lying. When I was a kid, lying politicians would be censured, appear crying on TV, apologize, and tearfully resign. Now, they just tell more, and usually bigger, lies. Or, they admit everything, and don’t resign, and are not censured by their political party. Lies don’t seem to register in public consciousness like they used to. Why? I don’t know.
The right is dominated by zealotry, and frequently engages in righteous indignation. The left has little zeal, even though it avows an interest in resolving significant social issues freighted with moral import. Liberals need to weigh in with more exuberance and less smugness. They need to elect a greater number of liberal yellers—enraged actors, with their own brand of righteous indignation, and an unwillingness to capitulate under any circumstances.
Who are the liberal firebrands? I don’t know. Since nobody readily springs to mind, I conclude there are none. I am probably wrong. Am I irresponsible? Ill-informed? A crypto-conservative? A nit-wit?
Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu). Bracketed text added by Gorgias.
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