Paradoxes Are Serious Fun

If you search on the library’s website for author Mardy Grothe, you’ll find several books on various wordplay topics, including metaphors, aphorisms, and -ifisms.  Oxymoronica (428GRO) is one of the most rewarding.  A dictionary definition: “Ox-y-mor-on-i-ca (OK-se-mor-ON-uh-ca) noun, plural: Any variety of tantalizing, self-contradictory statements or observations that on the surface appear false or illogical, but at a deeper level are true, often profoundly true.”  Examples?  “Common sense is not so common.” – [Voltaire].  “The novelist says in words what cannot be said in words.” – Ursula K. Le Guin. “I’m as pure as the driven slush.” – [Tallulah Bankhead}. P.G. Wodehouse wrote the following oxymoronic dedication to his 1926 book, Heart of a Goof:  “To my daughter Leonora without whose never-failing sympathy and encouragement this book would have been finished in half the time.”

One of the very best places to lose yourself on-line is Futilitycloset.com.  The owner/operator of this information trove is Gregg Ross, who describes it as a database of more than 10,000 items. . .“entertaining curiosities in history, literature, language, art, philosophy, and mathematics, designed to help you waste time as enjoyably as possible.”  Here following are two example anecdotes—-paraphrased so I don’t get into trouble over copyright!

  1. During his Oxford University days, Oscar Wilde was assigned a bit of the New Testament to orally translate from Greek to English. Midway, the examiner, satisfied, called a halt.  Wilde is purported to have said, “Oh, do let me go on.  I want to see how it ends.”  
  2. Poet Robert Lowell spent a few days in jail for refusing to register for the draft during World War II.  He shared a cell, or one within talking distance, with Louis “Lepke” Buchalter, a member of the Mob.  Lepke introduced himself as being in for killing somebody. He wanted to know what Lowell’s crime was.  “I’m in for refusing to kill.”  (The more you think about it, the more it makes you think.)

And from our old friend Anonymous comes this exhortation:  “TV. If kids are entertained by two letters, imagine the fun they’ll have with twenty-six.  Open your child’s imagination.  Open a book.”

*Written by Carol Cail. Read more from Carol at carolcail.com

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