Fightclub and chiasmus

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Friday 28 November 2008

For those who didn’t know, I am a huge fan of a grammatical construction known as chiasmus. Now before you stop reading or say in a loud voice at the computer “Neerrrrd”, let me explain what a chiasmus is, and why I am such a huge fan. The word chiasmus comes from the greek letter chi which is an ‘X’. It involves a quote or saying or phrase where the first and second parts of the quote or saying or phrase are reversed, (or crossed over). The easiest examples I know to explain with are:

When the going gets tough
the tough get going.


Ask not what your country can do for you,
But what you can do for your country.

Once you know what they are, you hear and find them everywhere and I think they are cool. The reason that I am telling you this is because I am going to try and drop a chiasmus here and there on my blog, particularly ones that I have heard in everyday life, movies, books, the media or general conversation.

The first is from the movie “Fightclub” which I watched recently. Tyler Durton, one of the main characters, whose ideology borders on militant anarchism, states in relation to possessions and material goods:

“The things you own, end up owning you”

Short, simple and a perfect little chiasmus. Now you are free to say in a loud voice, “Neerrrrd”.


Erin said...

I thought of your posts on chiasmus the other night when I was watching Mystery Men. Have you seen that movie? The Sphinx's super power appears to be that of chiasmus.

dvm said...

No, unfortunately i haven't seen it. what was the chiasmus?

Erin said...

Oh, he doesn't restrict himself to just one - nearly every he has is a chiasmus.

Very good movie - worth getting out.
It's about wannabe superheros.

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