Archive for the ‘meiosis’ Category

Meiosis-Fight Club

December 10, 2011 3 comments

Tapinosis is another similar term to meiosis.  An example of this device can be found in David Fincher’s 1999 film Fight Club.  This movie revolves around “two men” that come together, form an alliance, and make a place wheter them as well as otehr males can come together and fight and release their aggressions.  This movie is a very serious and thrilling movie.  The particular scene that exhibits tapinosis is in a speech that Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt) gives.  He delivers it outside while men, the men that he has recruited and that he has bought a house for, are digging holes into the backyard.  Durden says to them, “Listen up, maggots.  You are not special.  You are not a beautiful or unique snowflake.  You’re the same decaying organic matter as everything else.”  This is a very interesting juxtaposistion of decaying matter and the digging of the holes, which the dirt is full of this.  This speech exemplifies tapinosis because Durden is belittling these people by calling them maggots and saying that they are not special.  This is what one of the big devices of tapinosis is, the belittling of people.    This is a very serious statement to them because there is no joking tone to his tone.  These statements can also easily play on the emotions of these men that are digging.  It can do this because the degrading tone could get to them.

Fight Club. Dir. David Fincher. Perf. Brad Pitt. Fox, 1999. DVD. Also available:

Categories: emotion, film, meiosis


December 10, 2011 2 comments

One of the other closely related terms of litotes can be found in Jason Reitman’s 2007 release of Juno.  This movie follows the life of a pregnant teenager (Ellen Page) and her struggle of whether or not she would to keep the baby.  There are many other issues that arise in this film as well.  This movie is a comedy and is set in and around teenagers.  Even though that it is this it is also very “mature” its themes.  The particular scene that shows the device of litotes in action is the one where an ultrasound technician, Juno, her friend (Leah), and her mother (Bren) are all of them are at the doctor’s office.  Also, in this scene they are all they are looking at the ultrasound of the baby and talking of whether or not they would like to know the sex of the baby and a lot of other things to the like.  The doctor then says something that upsets Juno’s mother and in response to that she says, “Oh, you think you’re so special because you get to play Picture Pages up  there?  Well, my five-year old daughter could do that and let me tell you, she’s not the brightest bulb in the tanning bed.  So why don’t you go back to night school in Mantino and learn a real trade.”  The most important thing to take out of this is the saying of that her daughter is not the brightest bulb in the tanning bed.  This is a very nice way of putting that she is dumb.  It makes it sound like she is not the brightest but she could be one of the brightest, not necessarily the dimmest though either.  This is a very nice way of implying the dumb hypothesis.  This is done in a very comedic sense even though the undertones of this movie are very serious.  The comment is not very nice but it is meant to be funny.  This is an effective example of litotes because Bren does not directly say that her daughter is stupid but she is implying it and that is how litotes is effectively portrayed.

Juno. Dir. Jason Reitman. Perf. Ellen Page, Olivia Thirlby, Allison Janney, and Kaaren De Zilva. Fox Searchlight Pictures, 2007. DVD. Also available:


Categories: description, film, humor, meiosis


December 10, 2011 Leave a comment

Meiosis can also be found in our everyday speech and generally is.  We may use the term and not even realize this.  This is where I feel that this next example is sort of taken.  This example happens to be taken from another term for a profession.  As I have heard of and I am sure you have heard, the term “shrink” can be considered as meiosis.  The term shrink is used in place of psychologist in many places and instances.  The particular example that I have chosen here is actually in the title of the movie itself as well as in the trailer for the movie.  This film centers around a down and out psychologist, Kevin Spacey, who gets involved with drugs and has his own struggles that can be similar to the issues that his patients come to him about.  In the particular trailer, we here one of the other characters interviewing him and calls him, “the shrink to the stars.”  We can kind of guess what this movie would be about just by the title alone and as we analyze and view the trailer we realize that are assumption was correct.  The term shrink in this sense is very degrading to the profession and is a good example of meiosis for that reason.  It does not speak highly on his particular profession.  It is a very effective example as well because of this.  At times, even hearing this term makes one think of the credibility of the individual themselves.  It even gives us a short of description of the person himself.

Shrink. Dir. Jonas Pate. Perf. Kevin Spacey. Roadside Attractions, 2009. DVD. Also available:

Meiosis-The Catcher in the Rye

December 10, 2011 Leave a comment

A term that relates to meiosis is litotes.  This example is more closely related to the term of litotes then it is to meiosis.  This example can be found in J.D. Salinger’s novel The Catcher in the Rye.  This novel is a coming of age tale of a kid in New York City who is growing up and telling of his trials and tribulations along the way.  The kid, Holden Caulfield, is the protagonist and narrator of the story.  He plays with the idea of litotes in his line that states, “I have to have this operation.  It isn’t very serious.  I have this tiny little tumor on the brain.”  In this grouping of sentences, Holden Caulfield is being somewhat serious even though he say that it is not very serious.  He is very understating the fact that he has a tumor on the brain.  This is very belittling of the ailment, tumor.  Even though he mentions the surgery as well, he still makes it sound like it is nothing.  Holden makes it sound like that he will have the surgery and when he gets over it he will be set back, say a day or two at the most.  This is a very effective way of using litotes because of the drastic downplay of what is happening to himself.

Salinger, J. D. The Catcher in the Rye. Harmondsworth: Bantam, 1964. Print.

Categories: description, fiction, meiosis

Meiosis-The Boomtown Rats/ Brenda Ann Spencer

December 10, 2011 Leave a comment

Meiosis can also be found in the Boomtown Rats 1979 release of the song “I Don’t Like Mondays.”  The background of this song is more of why that it can be considered meiosis rather than just the song itself.  The song was spurred on because of what the person, Brenda Ann Spencer, had said of his actions.  For those of you not familiar with her, let me elaborate.  In 1979, a sixteen year old, Spencer opened fire on children that were going into Cleveland Elementary School in San Diego, California.  This event occurred on Monday, January 29.  In the process, Spencer ended killing two men while wounding eight more students and even a police officer.  When finally captured, she told a reporter that she had done it because and I quote, “I don’t like Mondays.  This livens up the day.”  She said a few other things while in police custody but this one is the meiotic saying.  And it is also the quote that aided to the creation of the song.  This can be considered meiosis since she tries to evade the big issue of killing and shooting those people as it was no big deal.  It was done for a lesser reason than for actually having a big, somewhat normal, reason for doing so.  Normally, someone would say something strong to convey their reason for doing it but with her it was like she was brushing it off and like eh, I did it because I do not like Mondays.  It is no big deal.  We all do not like Mondays anyway.  So, this is why could her reasoning is more meiotic then the song itself.  The song does, however, keep this saying in contemporary culture in our thoughts and remembrance of this terrific event.  The chorus mentions her famous utterance, “I don’t like Mondays,” and it then goes on to say, “tell me why.”  These two juxtaposed is kind of like the interrogator and Brenda Spencer are having their conversation about the incident.  The repetition of this over and over again is using it as a sense of amplification.  This particular line is also very effective and serious because of the fact that Spencer uttered it herself so there is not much more seriousness and effectiveness that could not be uttered than by anyone else than but by the individual herself.

Geldof, Bob. “I Don’t Like Mondays.” Rec. Summer 1979. The Boomtown Rats. Paul Wainman, 1979. CD. Also available:

Mikkelson, Barbara. “ I Don’t Like Mondays.” Urban Legends Reference Pages., 26 Feb. 2010. Web. 09 Dec. 2011. <;.

Meiosis-Monty Python

December 9, 2011 Leave a comment

One example of meiosis can be found in the 1974 cult classic hit of Monty Python and the Holy Grail.  This movie is a comedic adventure of the classic King Arthur and the Knights of the Round table motif.  It travels through each of the knight’s journey separately and shows of their personal quest of the search for the treasured Holy Grail.  This scene is taken from King Arthur’s journey.  In particular, it is when King Arthur fights the Black Knight.  In this scene, King Arthur winds up cutting off all of the limbs from the Black Knight.  In response to this the Black Knight says, “Tis a scratch” and/ or “it’s only a flesh wound.”  These sayings are far less severe to what actually happened to him.  This is how meiosis is played into the scene as well as the downplaying of the injury that was just received on behalf of King Arthur.  He makes it sound like nothing happened to him.  It is a very belittling experience of the event.  This example of meiosis is done in the comedic sense and it handled very effectively.

Monty Python and the Holy Grail. By Terry Jones, Terry Gilliam, Graham Chapman, and John Cleese. Perf. Graham Chapman, John Cleese, and Terry Gilliam. Columbia Tristar Home Entertainment, 2001. DVD. Also available:

Categories: film, humor, meiosis


December 8, 2011 3 comments

According to Lanham, meiosis is defined as “To belittle, often through a trope of one word; use a degrading epithet.  Sometimes it overlaps with litotes.  See also tapinosis.”  While on the other hand, Silva-Rhtoricae defines meiosis as a “reference to something with a name dispropotionately lesser than its nature (a kind of litotes).”  While both of these definitions can be overwhelming a simplified defintion could help.  This definition would be saying that meiosis is just a understatement.  This would be like using the word “stream” to refer to the Mississippi River.  This makes the subject, Mississippi  River, much less severe, stream, than it actually is and makes it seem attainable to grasp and even possible to cross easily.

Two other terms that closely relate to this idea are litotes and tapinosis.  According to Silva-Rhetoricae, litotes can be difined as a “deliberate understatement, especially when expressing a thought by denying its opposite.”  This is like saying “he is not the wisest man in the world.”  This kind of sounds like a compliment but to the contrary, it is saying that he is dumb.  The other term, tapinosis, can be defined as “giving a name to something that diminishes it in importance.”  This is like calling the Atlantic Ocean a pond, as used into saying that England is just across the pond.

Burton, Gideon C. “Litotes.” Silva Rhetoricae: The Forest of Rhetoric. Brigham Young University, 26 Feb. 2007. Web. 09 Dec. 2011.

Burton, Gideon C. “Tapinosis.” Silva Rhetoricae: The Forest of Rhetoric. Brigham Young University, 26 Feb. 2007. Web. 09 Dec. 2011.

Burton, Gideon C. “Meiosis.” Silva Rhetoricae: The Forest of Rhetoric. Brigham Young University, 26 Feb. 2007. Web. 09 Dec. 2011.

Lanham, Richard A. “Meiosis.” A Handlist of Rhetorical Terms. 2nd ed. Berkeley: University of California, 1991. 98. Print.

Categories: meiosis, overview