Do you love oxymorons? Or do you think you’d probably enjoy them if you knew what they are?
Ok, if you don’t know what an oxymoron is or if you’ve forgotten since your mid-century schooling, (1940’s- 1970’s) I’ll try and explain. First off they are a heck of a lot easier to pick out when you hear one than it is trying to define them. An oxymoron is when someone uses contradictory terms in the same sentence or series of sentences.
There quite a few of these that we commonly use without thinking about them because they have become an accepted phrase i.e. “ Living Dead”, “Old News” “New Classic” and I could probably write a book full of them. But for this post I’ll just list some of my favorites.
In Tennyson's Idylls of the King has 2 for the price of one : “And faith unfaithful kept him falsely true." I think I was 12 or so when I attempted to read this for the first time. Just imagine how that twisted my little angst ridden adolescent mind!! It was like a secret of the universe had been presented to me and I had to solve it. I figured God, or whoever was toying with me and saying “Riddle me this”. A couple years later when I understood it, and understood oxymorons I didn’t feel like such a, well, a moron.
Then there was a humor magazine whose editor recieved a lot of mail. For you youngsters, I’m talking about mail not e or electronic mail, I’m talking back in my childhood, when mail was delivered by horse. But the editor kept getting letters telling him his magazine and his jokes were “not in good taste”. To which he printed on the cover of his next issue- “ Good taste and humor are a contradiction in terms, like a chaste whore!” If some of you find a word in that sentence one that toy are not familiar with ask your parents what CHAST means.
Mark Twain had a few oxomorons up his sleeve, although I don’t know how he had room for them with his trusty typewriter. One of which was “The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.” Ok people said he said it, there isn’t any documentation yet that he said it, but come on…who does it sound like? I mean if you hear the phrase “ Float like a Butter Fly- Sting like a Bee” should we really doubt our own gut knowledge and start watching hours of film to hear Ali say it?
One of the most popular songs of my generation was The Sounds of Silence” we are so used to it that we mostly never realized this incongruent title.
One of my favorites is by the man who brought us 1984 and Animal Farm “There are some ideas so wrong that only a very intelligent person could believe in them.” George Orwell
Shakespeare’s Romeo threw several around “Mis-shapen chaos of well-seeming forms!” Is but one of several.
Here are a few more for dessert.
Quiet Riot not the band because they sure weren’t
I’m in favor of free expression provided it’s kept rigidly under control. (Remember this one it ties in nicely for when I write about conspiracies!
George Carlin posed one of my favorite questions “How is it possible to have a civil war?”
And to end today’s moronic post “Show me a sane man and I will cure him for you.” Carl Jung