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    Doing Pop

    keith-richards-dadsmoke.jpgQuote:  “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.

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    Reader Comments (4)

    Or a synecdoche ... ?
    April 4, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterPedant
    Right you are, Pedant. It's fixed. Thanks.

    April 4, 2007 | Registered CommenterFigaro
    "ancient rocker"? He's my age. Not a rock fan - I like trance - but just sayin'... I mean I already read your thing about the 50-something ladies trying to look better. Big deal. What about the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, 100s ladies? I love this site and must visit more often (to police it for ageism, heh) because I like intelligent snarky humor. Carry on.
    April 17, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterdus7
    I'm confused about the difference between metonymy and synecdoche. Based on my understanding, it seems as though the latter is a subdivision or example of the former. Not true?
    April 17, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterScottS

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