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    Pumping America


    Quote:  “Power has made reality its bitch.”  Mark Danner, in a commencement address delivered to graduates of the rhetoric department at Berkeley.

    Figure of Speech:  prosopopoeia, the figure of personification.  From the Greek, meaning “to make a person.”

    Today’s quote refers to a famous interview an “unnamed official” (probably named Karl Rove) gave to writer Ron Suskind for the New York Times Magazine.  “We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality,” the official said (anonymity being its own form of reality-creating, or un-creating).

    Mark Danner takes the White House reality and gives it life, Frankenstein-like, in a prosopopoeia.  The figure makes an animal or thing take on human qualities.  Danner’s rhetorical reality takes on the qualities of a prison rapist — hyperbole at its most hyperbolific.

    “Our age,” Danner says, “is truly the Age of Rhetoric.”  But, as Isocrates would say, isn’t every age the Age of Rhetoric?

    Snappy Answer:  “Reality should get a WMD tattoo.”

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    Reader Comments (5)

    Thanks to Susan McTigue for sending the link to Danner's speech.

    June 19, 2007 | Registered CommenterFigaro
    Yikes. That quote made me wince. Reality often does.
    June 19, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterMartha V.
    That's because you're part of what Rove called the "reality-based community," you poor thing. Read the full quote from the Times Magazine piece:

    “The aide said that guys like me were ‘in what we call the reality-based community,’ which he defined as people who ‘believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.’ I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. ‘That’s not the way the world really works anymore,’ he continued. ‘We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality — judiciously, as you will — we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors…. and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.’”
    June 19, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterFigaro
    Hey Figaro,

    I'm digging the chiasmic alliteration in your blog header, but I'm enjoying your book even more. Thanks for the introduction to rhetoric. I love it!
    June 20, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterDaniel
    Oh, hey, "Figures of Speech Served Fresh" does do an alliterative mirror thing, and all this time Figaro didn't know it! Thanks for the savvy words, Daniel. And the kind ones.

    June 21, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterMark

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