I’ll bet you don’t know what the above title is an example of….I mean, besides an example of a title. And far be it from me to intend it as an example of an insult, or an insult of an example. It’s called chiasmus, which is defined as a rhetorical inversion of two parallel phrases. Friends, is this blog an education, or is this education a blog, or what?
Truth be told, I likewise had never heard of the word until I bought a book with the fascinating title NEVER LET A FOOL KISS YOU OR A KISS FOOL YOU, by Dr. Mardi Gras (my “made-in” name for Dr. Mardy Grothe — sorry about that). Of course, I’d read chiasmus for years not knowing what they’re called. As Dr. Grothe points out, profound thinkers and great wits have long been masters of the form: Shakespeare, Winston Churchill, Oscar Wilde, George Bernard Shaw, Ben Franklin, Mark Twain, Dorothy Parker and Anonymous, to name more than a few.
No doubt you too are familiar with some of the following chiasmus, but with the likes of these, if familiarity breeds contempt, you may have contempt for the familiar….or, more likely, I’m guilty of stretching a chiasmus / making much ado about nothing. Or something.
I wasted time, and now doth time waste me. -Shakespeare (King Richard II)
The desire of the man is for the woman, but the desire of the woman is for the desire of the man. –Germaine de Stael
I find Peale appalling and Paul appealing. –Democratic Governor/Presidential candidate Adlai Stevenson (comparing conservative Minister/author Norman Vincent Peale and the Apostle Paul)
In the bluegrass region / A paradox was born: / The corn was full of kernels / And the colonels were full of corn. -John Marshall
I’d rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy. -Randy Hanzlick
When you have nothing to say, say nothing. -Charles Caleb Colton
Don’t worry that other people don’t know you; worry that you don’t know other people. -Confucius
A fool often fails because he thinks what is difficult is easy, and a wise man because he thinks what is easy is difficult. -John Churton Collins
Friendship is love minus sex plus reason. Love is friendship plus sex minus reason. -Mason Cooley
No woman has ever so comforted the distressed — or so distressed the comfortable. -Clare Booth Luce, on Eleanor Roosevelt
Your manuscript is both good and original, but the part that is good is not original, and the part that is original is not good. -Dr. Samuel Johnson, to an aspiring writer
Boy meets girl; girl gets boy into pickle; boy gets pickle into girl. -Jack Woodford, on typical plot of Hollywood movies
That’s all for the present. I thank all present, and recommend the book as a present to all.