Recreating (and advancing) pk’s censored domains:
Knatz.com / Teaching / Scholarship /

I while back I started a file of favorite this and thats, launching with funeral home as a favorite euphemism and public education as a favorite oxymoron. New Years day I started to add a few other examples. Today’s similar impulse made me pull back. No: they belong here: in the shade of my thesis on meta-oxymoron in Shakespeare’s sonnets. What the hell: my Macroinformation skips right past meta-information, going directly into Macroinformation; my doctoral thesis skipped right past oxymoron into meta-oxymoron. I should step back down and show the rungs below occasionally.

Note that a good euphemism often is an oxymoron.

I’ll list, occasionally commenting:

free society

religious education

free country

democratic nation

free market

(almost anything with the word “free” in it)

Hey, how ‘about this one?

Fair trial!
2004 06 16
Oh, man: somedays something you’ve seen, commented on for decades, stands naked before you with what looks like a fresh glow: like you’re seeing it for the first time. (Maybe you are; maybe you’re memory isn’t so good after all.) Here’s what came and stood before me a moment ago: its nudity pure oxymoron:

Tell the truth!

Perhaps to see what I’m seeing you too have to have steeped yourself in Korzybski’s map / territory distinction. “Tell” refers to symbolic representation: words, depictions … Truth! Now that’s ambiguous. Do we mean words? Or do we mean the territory? the actual universe? something of an utterly different kind of existence from symbols?
Are we saying “don’t lie”? Or are we saying the equivalent of “Be God”?
(And what makes us so sure that “God” doesn’t share the same sort of handicaps we labor with? Is God the territory? Or is God some better kind of a map?)
(It’s a real problem: is god of the universe? or outside it? If he’s outside it, and we’re of it, what the hell do we then have to do with him? How could any kind of communication be possible?)

(Think of some idiot director telling Marlon Brando, “Be Fletcher Christian.” “Be Terry Doyle.”)
(Huh? I should be fictional?)

Society is a competing collection of directives: Marry one woman, work hard, save … Don’t eat pork, don’t pull your pudding … How does anyone in a society so glibly talk about freedom? Engineers have the sense to talk about degrees of freedom: the freedom is never claimed without reference to neighboring restraints.

At FLEX I talked about free learning: but clearly I was talking about it as a utopia, an ideal contrasting with all evident examples of learning. Theorists talk about the free market: but can they point to an example? No: the examples are limited to our imaginations: what could be: we think, we hope.

So much of social discourse is us pulling wool over our own eyes.

Don’t think that list represents my life-list: I’ve merely relieved a bit of the itching to start.

2015 06 03 How ‘about this one?

Roman Catholic?

“Roman” is a specific city, a distinct ethnicity; “catholic” means universal. general. genus, not individual. general, not peculiar. 2017 10 16 I visit this module today to check on whether or not I’d already added “Roman catholic”: and I see I did: but not till only a couple of years ago! Roman Christian were it to familiar as a phrase would also be rich; but it’s not a phrase, not one I’ve ever heard at any rate. But the “roman catholic” is gorgeous all by itself.

2004 10 14 One can hear an oxymoron (or a euphemism …) all one’s life without realizing that it is an oxymoron (or a euphemism …). I just thought of a candidate: I’m not altogether sure of it yet: what do you think?

known universe

We know lots of things. One may know French, one may know JLo … What we do not know (and may never know) is the universe. (I don’t think we’ll know god either: or anything really important).

Note that the concept of oxymoron is essential to my reading of Shakespeare’s Sonnets


About pk

Seems to me that some modicum of honesty is requisite to intelligence. If we look in the mirror and see not kleptocrats but Christians, we’re still in the same old trouble.
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