Quote: “Hi, I’m Art Buchwald and I just died!” Humorist Art Buchwald, who just died.
Figure of Speech: kairos (KIE-ros), rhetorical mastery of the occasion. From the Greek, meaning “occasion.”
Kairos, the art of seizing the moment and the medium, was so important in ancient times that the Romans made it into a god: Occasio, a beautiful young man who was bald in the back of his head. He symbolized how fast an opportunity can age. (Hence the old saying, “Fortune is bald behind.”)
Kairos is also the secret to comedy. Art Buchwald, whose syndicated column appeared in 400 newspapers three days a week for decades, saw a ripe opportunity in his own impending death. His last book has a title rich in kairos: Too Soon to Say Goodbye. And he did a video with the New York Times in which he cheerfully announced his own recent death at age 81. Video provides the perfect medium for making a kairos joke, because it lets you reverse time and fast-forward it. In Buchwald’s case, he hit a permanent pause.
Snappy Answer: “No, you didn’t.”