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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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    We Are What We Watch

    videoglasses.jpgQuote:  “It’s the Netflix version of the divided soul:  The end of your list is the person you want to be — Eraserhead, the eight-hour BBC Bleak House, the complete Werner Herzog — while the top is the person you actually are: Wedding Crashers, Scary Movie 4, The Bridges of Madison County.”
    Sam Anderson in Slate.

    Figure of Speech:  synecdoche (sin-EC-do-kee), the part-whole swap.  From the Greek, meaning “swap.”

    Netflix lets you invite friends to see your queue — the list of DVDs you want the service to send you in the mail.  Writer Sam Anderson has a funny piece in Slate about how much that queue can reveal.  He makes a collection of movies stand for a person’s soul:  a perfect synecdoche.

    The figure is one of the most important of all, because it uses our brains’ predilection for shortcuts.  Our senses detect a white mansion in Washington, D.C., or a bunch of trees, and our noggins transform these limited data into presidencies or forests.  Similarly, the synecdoche lets the Star Wars Trilogy and the first season of Gray’s Anatomy define an entire personality.

    Which means that the medium is no longer just the message; it’s also sender and recipient.  You know those thrillers about robots taking over the world?  It’s happened already.  We have seen the robots, and they are us.

    Snappy Answer:  Did you spot that Amelie in the black dress?  Turns out she’s just a Legally Blonde.

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    Reader Comments (2)

    Wouldn't that be more metonymy? I guess it could be synecdoche if you consider your Netflix queue part of you.

    September 15, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterEric
    Yes, I debated with Figaro (i.e., myself) about that. A synecdoche swaps genus and species, while a metonymy swaps a characteristic of the thing for the thing itself.

    We (Figaro and I) decided that, since we're talking about a sum of parts, it's more of a synecdoche.
    September 15, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterFigaro

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