Quote: “Hell, I couldn’t write a better piece if given a month, five naked research assistants, and a crate of whippets.” Jack Shafer in Slate.
Figure of Speech: adynata (a-dyn-AH-ta), the last-people-on-earth figure.
Slate’s media columnist expresses admiration for a colleague’s hurricane story with an adynata (“without power”). It’s a kind of hyperbole that links impossibilities: “Even if you and I were the last people on earth, and the survival of humankind depended on us, I still wouldn’t date you.”
The adynata is like a three-ring circus of absurdity, throwing in dogs, unclad assistants, and long deadlines. Use it as a humorous way to express, “Words cannot express…”
Snappy Answer: “Maybe you would write better if you weren’t thinking about naked research assistants.”