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    He Was the Best of Preachers, He Was the Worst of Preachers

    abraham_obama.jpgQuote: “The church contains in full the kindness and cruelty, the fierce intelligence and the shocking ignorance, the struggles and successes, the love and yes, the bitterness and bias that make up the black experience in America.” Barack Obama in his race speech.

     Figure of Speech: enantiosis (eh nan tie OH sis), the figure of contraries. From the Greek, meaning “opposite.”

    Figaro apologizes for his tardiness, a combination of constant travel and software problems.   (Does anyone know how to send group opt-in emails?) But you knew he would talk about Obama’s Big Speech eventually, didn’t you?

    Thanks to his “God damn America” preacher, the Dems’ leading candidate has to walk a wobbly line between loyalty and disavowal. 

    To his figurative credit, Obama manages to walk both sides of the paradoxical line with instinctive use of an enantiosis, a figure that lists a series of contraries side by side. (“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…”) It’s a wonderful way of showing the other side of a tarnished coin. In Obama’s case it implies that his personal loose canon blesses America—when he isn’t damning it. 

    Still, with preachers like him, who needs ministers?

    Snappy Answer:  “Is there one black experience?”


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    Reader Comments (4)


    I began reading your book (yes, I bought it) just before Obama delivered his Philadelphia speech. Trying not to trigger an avalanche of opposing views, I could have sworn that the entire speech was an interesting example of syncrisis--the "useful figure" you describe on p 4 of your book (see, I really did buy it). That is, I thought the issue was about why Obama attended a church with a pastor who held such views, and in the speech I learned that the issue was really about race. That sounds like reframing an argument by redefining it, doesn't it?
    March 30, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterSAM
    It does indeed, Sam. Obama also does well to broaden the issue -- one of the most helpful forms of defense.

    April 15, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterFigaro
    Fig, thank you. I was developing a complex--and a fear that I wasn't able to apply what you've included in your book to what I come across every day.
    April 18, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterSAM
    What a neat way to imply that my book might not be sufficiently practical! Well played, sir.

    April 21, 2008 | Registered CommenterFigaro

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