Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Chiasmus VII: Some Modern Examples

In my last chiasmus article I mentioned the false assumption that chiasmus is only found in ancient writings. This article will dispel that notion. Here are some examples of chiasmus in talks given by the LDS General Authorities. (These examples all come from Sterling D. Allen.)

Ezra Taft Benson - April 1987 General Conference - The Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants. The talk can be found here. Sterling D. Allen's article can be found here.

Howard W. Hunter - October 1994 General Conference - "Exceeding Great and Precious Promises". The talk can be found here. Sterling D. Allen's article can be found here. Please notice that I've made some changes to my version.

James E. Faust - October 1994 General Conference - The Keys that Never Rust. These are just the four simplest chiasms in Elder Faust's talk. Sterling D. Allen's entire article can be found here.

Gordon B. Hinckley - April 1997 General Conference - Our Testimony to the World. The talk can be found here. Sterling D. Allen's article can be found here.

Many people have interpreted this statement to imply that the prophet will not, even cannot lead the people astray — that he can be implicitly trusted. When these sentences are organized chiastically, however, it is easy to see that God is the only one we can ultimately trust, although our leaders are fallible.

The two great functions of the Holy Ghost are to serve as a Comforter and as a Revelator. These are contrasted here.

Some examples from non-LDS writers - which are always much simpler than the ones above - can be found on the website of Dr. Mardy Grothe.

To wind up (or down) this series of articles on chiasmus, I present some examples of Antimetabole, which is similar to Chiasmus except that it typically repeats the same words and phrases in reverse order. Chiasmus typically uses different words and phrases in the two parallel halves.

  • "Who sheds the blood of a man, by a man shall his blood be shed..." (Genesis 9:6) In the original Hebrew the above phrase is exactly six words long, in the form (A B C C B A)

  • "...ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country." (John F. Kennedy Inaugural Address, January 20, 1961.)

  • "...Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate.." (John F. Kennedy Inaugural Address, January 20, 1961.)

  • "Mankind must put an end to war or war will put an end to mankind." (John F. Kennedy)

  • "Let's make sure that the Supreme Court does not pick the next president, and this president does not choose the next Supreme Court." (Al Gore Jr. at the 2004 Democratic National Convention.)

  • "America did not invent human rights. In a very real sense, it is the other way round. Human rights invented America." (Jimmy Carter's Farewell Address.)

  • "You have seen how a man was made a slave; you shall see how a slave was made a man." (Frederick Douglass, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, Written by Himself.)

  • "To be kissed by a fool is stupid; To be fooled by a kiss is worse." (Ambrose Redmoon.)

  • "What counts is not necessarily the size of the dog in the fight — it's the size of the fight in the dog." (Dwight D. Eisenhower January 1958 speech to the Republican National Committee.)

  • "Well, it's not the men in your life that counts, it's the life in your men." (Mae West in I'm No Angel, 1933.)

  • An earlier example from Croesus dates back to the 6th century BC: "In peace sons bury their fathers, but in war fathers bury their sons."

  • "In America, you can always find a party. In Soviet Russia, the Party can always find you!" (Yakov Smirnoff.)

  • A popular saying is, "You can take the boy out of the country, but you can't take the country out of the boy."

  • Chiasmus may be implied, referring to a well-known expression, as when Kermit the Frog says "Time's fun when you're having flies" or Mae West says "A hard man is good to find," or Jethro Tull's "In the beginning Man created God."

  • Chiasmus is not limited to an exchange of words; it can also involve the exchange of letters or syllables, as in Tom Waits' quote, "I’d rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy."

Here are a couple of cartoons to give you a multimedia finale.

And now, finally, I’m finished with this subject.


At 11/22/13, 12:52 AM, Blogger Cristina said...

I've just found your blog and I love your articles about chiasmus. Thank you very much for all of them.
Sorry the blog has been discontinued.....

C. Villar
From Spain.

At 11/22/13, 8:15 AM, Blogger Grant said...

Cristina - Envíame otro mensaje con su dirección postal (¡no la voy a publicar!) y le enviaré un DVD con mi colección entera, y muchísimo más, gratis.


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