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    Saint Al

    Saint_Al.jpgQuote:  “The climate crisis is not a political issue, it is a moral and spiritual challenge to all of humanity.”  Al Gore

    Figure of Speech:  alloiosis (al-oy-OH-sis), the this-isn’t-that figure. From the Greek, meaning “difference.”

    What do you give a politician who has everything? Al Gore gets a gold Nobel medal to display next to his Oscar — not to mention implied canonization as Patron Saint of the Earth.  (He’ll share the prize with the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change ). Donning his figurative high priest’s robes, he uses an alloisis, a figure that redefines an issue, to claim that the unbalanced Earth is not political, it’s moral.

    Sure, it’s not cricket to bequeath a toxic waste site to one’s progeny. But moral purity and $40 million will buy you a wind farm. In posing climate change as a “spiritual challenge,” Gore shuts off any debate that leads to practical choices. Values are inarguable; sermonic language reinforces values, it doesn’t change them. Dealing with the climate crisis requires the practical language of politics. It means sleeping with strange, smelly bedfellows.

    Besides, as an NPR reporter noted this morning, whenever a politician says something isn’t political — it’s political.

    Snappy Answer: “And I suppose you’re the guy to lead all of humanity.”

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    Reader Comments (24)

    The White House must be thrilled at the prospect of Gore and the U.N. getting the prize. The Nobel Committee did everything to piss off Bush short of declaring his dog Barney a polluter.
    October 12, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterSami
    What's the diff between an alloiosis and an antithesis, Fig?
    October 12, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterFanny
    Good question, Fan. An antithesis makes contrasts with like-sounding clauses, while the alloiosis states an issue and redefines.

    That being said, I've got to get around to listing general figures that apply to most situations. This hair-splitting stuff drives Figaro crazy. Even while he's the one splitting the hairs.

    October 12, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterFigaro
    You should be ashamed of yourself. Gore is a great man.
    October 12, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterGaia
    Yes, but he's comfortable, and Figaro's mission in life is to afflict the comfortable and comfort the rhetorically afflicted.

    I do love your demonstrative rhetoric, though.
    October 12, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterFigaro
    So are you saying Gore is actually doing harm to the environment?
    October 12, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterSusan
    Not at all. He ranks right up there as one of the world's top living orators, thanks in large part to the ENARGEIA provided by his movies and slides. And he's brought climate change to the forefront of discourse.

    Figaro has a beef only with the moral-issue thing. Politics, despite what politicians tell us, is not a bad thing.

    October 12, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterFigaro
    When you talk of deliberative rhetoric vs values talk, are you referring to Aristotle's distinctions among forensic, demonstrative, and deliberative rhetoric?
    October 12, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterJeanne
    Yep. I buzzed through that part of Aristotle's Rhetoric for years, but have come to think that those distinctions are critical to rescuing our current politics. At the risk of sounding overly demonstrative himself, it's Figaro's Big Cause.

    October 12, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterFigaro
    Love the St. Al of Assisi art, especially the smokestacks in the corner. Sheer genius, Fig!
    October 12, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterFrancine
    Thanks, but I swear there was a factory in the original image. I just added some smoke. (Art historians might say the smokestacks were supposed to be towers, but what do they know?)

    October 12, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterFigaro
    Why do you hate Gore?
    October 12, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterJohn
    Figaro loves all his quotees, and tries to use his subjects as Isaac Walton, the immortal author of The Compleat Angler, used his frogs:

    "And thus use your frog...Put your hook, I mean the arming-wire, through his mouth, and out at his gills; and then with a fine needle and silk sew the upper part of his leg...and, in so doing, use him as though you loved him..."

    October 12, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterFigaro
    Hilarious image. You’ve actually outdone the Giuliani Chicken.
    October 12, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterBarbara
    Well said. Fig. Great post. It is curious how your truthiness is interpreted by some in your flock as an ad hominem.
    October 12, 2007 | Unregistered Commentermstone
    I received this from Al Gore shortly after I received today's Figaro. The timing was perfect - I laughed out loud.

    I do have to say that I prefer Al's sanctimony to W's - probably because I belong to his tribe. And I think if I ever won both an Oscar and a Nobel Peace Prize, I'd be hard put to fit my head through your standard doorway.

    Anyway, just thought I'd share.



    Dear Lisa,

    I am deeply honored to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. This award is even more meaningful because I have the honor of sharing it with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change--the world's pre-eminent scientific body devoted to improving our understanding of the climate crisis--a group whose members have worked tirelessly and selflessly for many years. We face a true planetary emergency. The climate crisis is not a political issue, it is a moral and spiritual challenge to all of humanity. It is also our greatest opportunity to lift global consciousness to a higher level.

    My wife, Tipper, and I will donate 100 percent of the proceeds of the award to the Alliance for Climate Protection, a bipartisan non-profit organization that is devoted to changing public opinion in the U.S. and around the world about the urgency of solving the climate crisis.

    Thank you,

    Al Gore
    October 12, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterLisa Wetherby
    OH, NO!!! Not global consciousness! There goes the Draft Gore folks' last hope for the White House.

    If the globe is indeed conscious, I hope it doesn't notice Figaro.

    October 12, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterFigaro
    Hey Fig,

    This is an interesting one -- but I think you're giving Al too much of a hard time. On this issue, or on any where predicting the consequences of an action are incomprehensible to ordinary people, deliberative rehetoric is impossible because the other side will simply say that you have your facts wrong, as has been the case in the global warming, evolution, and other scientific debates.

    So, I would contend that for Al to have any traction some sort of apomnemonysis is necessary, some authority must be quoted. And it can't just be a few thousand scientists, because the climate ostriches have their own scientists and a lot of people distrust science anyway -- so it's necessary to invoke spirits or other version of God to have any credibility with the non-scientific public. Nicht wahr?
    October 12, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterSteve H.
    Figaro said:
    Values are inarguable; sermonic language
    enforces values, it doesn't change them.

    This is errant nonsense -- if values are 'inarguable', then how can they be enforced? And hasn't something that has been enforced been changed?

    Perhaps it is safer to talk of one person's beliefs -- easy to change -- versus ideologies and social mores -- much tougher.

    But to the extent that 'sermonic language' (why not just says sermons?) enforces one value, belief, whatever, it has necessarily weakened the opposing belief.
    October 12, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterRichard
    Thanks for the critical comments--all that praise was beginning to go to Figaro's head.

    Demonstrative rhetoric doesn't change people's minds, Richard; it reinforces the values they already hold. Yes, you can weaken "opposing" values, though not all values have real opposition. (I personally don't believe in bestiality, and have rarely been tempted.) Nonetheless, weakening an opposing belief doesn't constitute changing one's mind.

    I use "sermonic" as a synonym for "demonstrative." Not all sermonic language is a sermon. Reagan's Challenger disaster speech, for instance, was demonstrative, or sermonic. I didn't invent the definition, though I embrace it; you'll find it in Aristotle's Rhetoric. For more on the three kinds of rhetoric, see chapter 3 "Orphan Annie's Law," in "Thank You for Arguing."

    Steve, invoking the spirits won't enhance carbon trading or alternative fuels. Figaro has a decidedly un-scientific mind, but you can still change it--with the deft use of deliberative argument. Without argument, on the other hand, you don't have a democracy. Only competing tribes.

    End of sermon.


    October 13, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterFigaro

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