The term paradox comes from the Greek, para, meaning “opposite” or “contrary to”; and doxa, meaning “belief.” You see doxa in “orthodoxy,” which literally means “correct belief.” A paradox takes a pair of truths and mashes them together like positive and negative ions in a nuclear experiment. The opposites can be attractive, helping your audience understand complexity while holding their attention.
Contradictions come up a lot when we describe people. Just look at reasonable key words for famous people. The terms frequently contradict all on their own.
Lindsay Lohan: Beautiful, funny, screw-loose drunken nutcase.
Sarah Palin: Fit, savvy, tough, funny, vicious.
George Clooney: Handsome, suave, monotonal
Mel Gibson: Handsome, funny, racist drunken nutcase.
Now: Can you paradoxify a friend—or, better, an enemy?