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Aporia: Description and Introduction

December 9, 2011 2 comments

 Aporia is essentially the subtle art of making something look more difficult than it is in order to either get what you want, or to make a point. This takes various forms, from either directly stating that something is difficult, to simply deliberating over a point to make yourself seem less certain and therefore less invested in the point. Additionally, this tactic gives the audience an opportunity to come to the conclusion on their own, which is an incredibly effective device.

Aporia is also a pretty butterfly. But only after the cocoon stage. Be patient.

 

The reasons for its effectiveness are twofold. First, it is a form of rhetorical asymmetric warfare. It avoids direct confrontation by seeming to defuse the situation. By making yourself seem less combative and opposed to your opponent you gain an advantage. Second, it makes you seem to be reasoned and enlightened. That is, you look as though you have arrived at your conclusion (if you choose to make one openly) through deliberation rather than your opponent, who is probably still screaming his initial bias.

The larval form of Aporia is somewhat less graceful.

 

Note: Pictures are of things that share the name, for comedic effect.

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The Colbert Report

December 9, 2011 Leave a comment

The Colbert Report: The entire concept for this satirical news program is the rediculous nature of the host character. This becomes somewhat complicated in distinction from its actor of the same name. However, the character of the host is an exaggerated conservative anchor stereotype. His ignorance and other problems are fabricated to comedic effect. Additionally, the character emphasizes many of the points being made by distancing them from association with a serious and concerted argument. Some, however, don’t seem to get it. The character famously made a speech at a White House correspondent’s dinner which left former president Bush irate.

The Aporia is that the real Stephen Colbert is not an ignorant archconservative. The wholehearted agreement of an idiot is used to damn by faint praise, to good effect. This is one of the most effective uses of Aporia I have seen. On an unrelated note, I am surprised by the lack of a complete liberal bias in the show. It relies on other methods to mock left-wing viewpoints however.

Categories: aporia, humor, news, TV episode

Chronic Aporia

December 9, 2011 Leave a comment

Munchhausen Syndrome: This is a psychiatric disorder similar to Hypochondriasis in that the individual will fabricate or exaggerate symptoms to get treatment at a medical facility. It is differentiated from Hypochondria in that Munchhausen Syndrome implies that the individual is fully cognizant of their fabrications. That is, they feign illness to achieve medical care.

I also slept with the Empress of the moon. True story.

Patients with Munchhausen Syndrome are chronic, even pathological (get it?) users of Aporia. They most often exaggerate symptoms, leading doctors to spend a great deal of time and money treating them. Aporia is supposed to be to an advantage…but what advantage is there to this? Well. Psychologists think that the hospital feels safe to these people. They feel that they are more secure with a staff of hundreds looking out for them. The question is why they feel they need it, which varies from patient to patient.

He knows!

The overall effect is to cost the system thousands of dollars and the situation isn’t improving. Medical facilities won’t often report it because the insurance companies then refuse to pay up, leaving the patient with the full (usually quite large) bill, which few pay. It is now being considered a serious psychological illness and is getting some attention. Hopefully there will be means in the near future to help Munchhausen sufferers.

What makes you think I need help?!

Consuela: The problem with the help.

December 9, 2011 Leave a comment

Consuela, from Family Guy: This character is a clear and unashamed racial stereotype and plays on concerns and misconceptions about the character of the Hispanic maid. Prominent in her character is her supposed inability to properly understand the English language, which is used several times in the series to comedic effect. Also used is her fear of authority figures and immigration services. However, in some later scenes, it is shown that she actually has an astute understanding of the language when it would not be detrimental to her to feign ignorance, such as when talking to Stewie, the baby of the family and openly admitting to stealing his play money.

Aporia. It’s actually the common concern with migrant workers that they claim difficulty with the English language when they are, in fact, proficient. Supposedly to avoid conversation that they don’t want to have, such as regards a bill or the like. Consuela appears to do it for amusement, which is fine.

Categories: aporia, deception, humor, TV episode

New Mexico: The Fugue State

December 9, 2011 2 comments

Walter’s Fugue State in Breaking Bad: This series follows the character Walter White who has been diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. Being a proud man, he refuses financial help, and wants to pay for his treatment and leave a substantial amount of money for his family. He does this by manufacturing crystal meth. He obviously hides this from his family, who are very suspicious of his absences. When he is kidnapped by a drug dealer for a number of days, he has to concoct a story to explain why he has been missing and out of contact.

He walks into a grocery store, naked, and claims not to remember anything. His doctors diagnose the event as a fugue state. This is clearly somewhat suspect, and while his doctors are fooled, his wife seems to understand something is up. In the end this does not go well for him. (Very little, if anything, does in the whole series) However, he does get the alibi he wanted and that’s better than spending his last months in jail, I suppose.

This is pretty much textbook Aporia, and in fact uses both kinds (feigned and real) to fairly good effect. First, he does fake the fugue state entirely. He doesn’t remember a thing. That is creating a difficulty related to his illness (or Chemo in this case) that suits his need (for an alibi) without inviting questions. However, alone this would be fairly ineffective. His behavior leading up to the event was rather suspicious. He exaggerates both his illness and his happiness to return home in order to dissuade questions. After all, who would question too deeply a man dying of cancer?

Well…his own wife for one. It goes badly. Watch the series.