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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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    Quote:  “One month ago, I began a conversation with you… I hope you’ve learned a little bit more about what I’m believing and trying to do, and really help this conversation about our country get started.  I hope to keep this conversation going.”  Hilary Clinton as Big Sister in a YouTube attack video.

    Figure of Speech: antistrephon (an-TIS-tre-phon), the boomerang figure.  From the Greek, meaning “turning to the opposite side.”

    A mysteriously produced video takeoff on Apple’s famous “1984” ad shows a zombified audience staring at a giant screen while a scary-looking Senator Clinton speaks.  The video ends with an athletic woman shattering the screen with a sledgehammer. Why did the video’s makers choose to have Hilary talk about a “conversation”?  Because they want to turn a favorable label against her.  Watch the ad, and “conversation” sounds like a dictator’s doublespeak.

    The video constitutes a masterful antistrephon, a figure of redefinition that turns your opponent’s term against him. The technology makes this seem like a new political tactic.  But in the early 1800s, politicos used the same rhetorical device:  they printed anonymous pamphlets that boomeranged their rivals’ terms.  

    YouTube’s political videos, in other words, are nothing more than computerized pamphleteering.

    Snappy Answer:  “When do I get to talk?”

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    Reader Comments (4)

    Thanks for another scrumptious Daily Figure. I recently read Alexander Pope's "A Key to the Lock" in which the author, under a pseudonym, denounces his own "The Rape of the Lock" as Jacobite propaganda in such a ludicrous way as to undermine his opponents' accusations. Does that qualify as an "antistrephon"?

    Also, "Strephon" is a character in at least two poems ("Lady's Dressing Room" and "Strephon and Chloe") by Jonathan Swift. Today's figure makes me curious about the meaning of "strephon" -- simply, side or position?
    May 24, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterLisa
    STREPHON is a turning in Greek; when used as a name, it means "One who turns." You'll also find the little creature in Byron and Gilbert & Sullivan.
    May 24, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterFigaro
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