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Figaro rips the innards out of things people say and reveals the rhetorical tricks and pratfalls. For terms and definitions, click here.
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    “If You Need Assistance, Hang Up and Scream.”

    cwp_lilytomlin.jpgQuote:  "Your phone has been out for two days? Why didn’t you call before?" Phone company representative, speaking to Figaro.

    Figure of Speech: Catch-22; or autophasia (auto-FAY-sia), the rule that eats itself.

    Forgive us our absence, but we have been disconnected from the world for the past few days.  Figaro lives in an isolated, signal-free part of northern New England where broadband is a type of stretch pant.  He maintains his website by dialup, over a phone line that has a fainting spell during every storm.

    He finally reached the phone company over a crackling voice connection, and received a perfect Catch-22 — a sort of closed loop of illogic that requires the violation of a rule in order to carry it out. The rhetorical name for this is autophasia ("speaking of oneself").

    The profane name for it begins with "cluster" and ends with a four-letter word.  Figaro himself would never use it, of course.  But no one could hear him if he did.

    Snappy Answer:  "I did call you.  Why couldn’t you hear me?"

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    Reader Comments (6)

    Waal, I wudda called sooner, but the freshet that took down the phone line also took out the lectricty, so it took a little longer to get two clean soup cans emptied and ready for the phone connection. Expect your can when Eben gets down ta town nex time - jest make shuar ya don't pull too harrrrd on the string - Mother don't want to be out of touch again!
    April 5, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterArt Pease
    This reminds me of a billboard I saw that read, "Illiterate? Write for free help."
    April 5, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterJMack
    See the earlier autophasia post, JMack: http://www.figarospeech.com/it-figures/2005/10/20/honk-if-you-hate-noise.html

    And, Art, the tin cans don't work. Every time we try them we get a message that says "Connection Error."

    April 6, 2006 | Registered CommenterFigaro

    whatta classic ... lol

    April 8, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterashling
    Autophasia means "the rule that eats itself," does it? Wouldn't that be autophagia?
    March 4, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterMarkM
    It would if it literally meant "the rule that eats itself." It doesn't. Figaro was engaging in a paronomasia, the pun that eats itself.
    March 7, 2007 | Registered CommenterFigaro

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