Archive for the ‘nonfiction’ Category

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.

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?!

Anamnesis and Buddhism

December 8, 2011 2 comments

A profound example of anamnesis occurs in the text, Buddhist Reflections on Life and Death, by Suk-Ku Song.  Suk-Ku Song is a Professor emeritus of Philosophy at Dongguk University and the President of the International Association for Buddhist Thought and Culture.  Song makes references to Plato, Aristotle, Confucius, Fan Xuanzi, Shusun Bao, and many others to strengthen his claims about the nature of life, death, and other abstracts associated between the two.  Song engages the reader through a gripping introduction where he discusses the Buddhist idea of a “process of overcoming the death through metempsychosis will be followed by ethical consciousness” (1) Metempsychosis is another name for the transmigration of the soul.  For instance, from Plato he conveys a message:

True philosophy is the practice of death.” What he meant is that philosophy is the discipline of overcoming the death and ofconsoling the death. At any rate, to Plato, death means the death of the body. But he thought that death does not mean the end of everything. What remains is the thought that the body will be extinct. Plato calls this thought “soul.” This explains Plato’s theory of the immortality of the soul and that of body-soul dualism. (10)

And he continues his discourse, citing Plato once more:

However, man can understand the Idea through Anamnesis. Tounderstand Idea, Soul should be liberated from the Body by means of “philo-sophie” or philosophical efforts while the Body-Soul complex live on the earth. Eventually, according to Plato, this understanding comes from thedeath. (11)

Through his appeals to authority, Song effectively conveys Buddhist rhetoric by drawing forth many voices from the ancient world and weaving them all together to strengthen his claims about Buddhism and the nature of life.

Song, Suk-Ku. “Buddhist Reflections on Life and Death.” Web. 30 Nov. 2011. < Song.pdf>.

Paromologia in They Say/I say

December 6, 2011 Leave a comment

Gerald Graff and Cathy Birkenstein’s book, They Say/I Say: The Moves that Matter in Academic Writing, used by many composition instructors to teach freshman how to write an effective argumentive essay, deals with the idea of paromologia in two separate sections. The book has an interesting format in that it provides students with templates or formulas to plug their on words into to help phrase their argument. In the section titled “Templates for Agreeing and Disagreeing Simultaneously,” the book demonstrates effective paromological techniques for students to integrate into their writing with example formulas such as “Whereas X provides me ample evidence that ____, Y and Z’s research on ____ and ____ convinces me that ____ instead” (65). The book entertains a paromological concept again in the section titled “Making Concessions While Still Standing Your Ground” giving formulas such as “While it is true that ____, it does not necessarily follow that ____” (89).

While the book does not recognize these approaches as paramological concepts, they clearly are, and the book is advocating their use. These approaches demonstrate to new writers that conceding another viewpoint can be very beneficial to their own argument. Perhaps this book and composition books that encourage a similar style in argumentation are what keeps paromologia circulating through culture.

Graff, Gerald, and Cathy Birkenstein. They Say / I Say: the Moves That Matter in Academic Writing. 2nd ed. New York: Norton, 2010. Print.