Quote: “The strangest thing I’ve tried to snort? My father. I snorted my father.” Rolling Stone Keith Richards, quoted in the British music magazine NME.
Figure of Speech: synecdoche (syn-EC-do-che), the all hands on deck figure. From the Greek, meaning “swap.”
The ancient rocker, bored with blowing his mind, indulged in a hit of old man by mixing some of his ashes with cocaine. Frankly, we’re not impressed. It’s not like Richards snorted all of Dad — just enough to represent him.
That is what makes today’s quote a synecdoche, one of the central figures of speech. A part stands for the whole, or vice versa, turning a “hand” into a sailor and the White House into the presidency. Richard’s self-abusive synecdoche transformed a bit of funereal ash into an entire paterfamilias.
It’s a nice dose of rhetoric; the Greeks agreed that figures can affect an audience like a psychotropic drug. But what works even more like a drug, the great rhetorician Homer Simpson said, is drugs.
Snappy Answer: “So ‘Sister Morphine’ isn’t a metaphor?” (Thanks to Slate for this snap.)
For more on the mind-blowing effects of figures, see page 82 of Figaro’s book.
This just in: Richards woke from his revery and said he was just kidding. We think he’s kidding about his kidding.
Also, we made a major blunder, attributing his dad to the wrong figure. It’s a synecdoche, not a metonymy. Figaro must have been smoking something.