Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Apoplectic, Apocalyptic Aporia

An aporia is an expression of doubt or perplexity, typically a feigned one where the speaker then asks his audience about how he should proceed.

It is the quintessential rhetorical weapon of nagging wives and husbands. Of the smarmy, overly analytical work mates prone to waxing, eloquent on your perceived stupidity. The device is often delivered at the top of the lungs like a screaming wraith, blowing back the hair of one's audience and peeling off the paint as demonstrated by this quote from Parker Posey's character in Party Girl:

I guess you didn't know we have a system for putting books away here? No, I'm curious. You were just randomly putting that book on the shelf, is that it? You've just given us a great idea. I mean, why are we wasting our time with the Dewey Decimal System when your system is so much easier? Much easier! [shouting now] We'll just put the books anywhere. Hear that, everybody? Our friend here has given us a great idea! We'll just put the books any damn place we choose! We don't care, right?! Isn't that right?

The wonderful thing about aporias is they can be illustrated with great lengths of exaggeration laden heavy with sarcasm. Also, its similarity to the words "apocalyptic" and "apoplexy" in assonance and rhythm (both from different Greek roots uncoincidentally) lends itself to wonderful constructions such as "Don't levy your aporical justice at me!" or "If you don't dial back that aporic tirade, you'll burst a corpuscle."

Just doing my bit to help people win arguments everywhere.

P.S. I'd love to hear if you can remember an aporiac tirade from a movie, too (See how I did that? Three constructions! English is wonderful). I was sure there was one in Ghostbusters somewhere...

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