Friday, January 23, 2009

Inaugural Address

Stanley Fish did an interesting analysis of Obama's Inaugural Address and concluded that it is "more power in the reading than in the hearing".
And here's his English lesson for the day which expanded my vocabulary which is always a good thing:

"There is a technical term for this kind of writing – parataxis, defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as “the placing of propositions or clauses one after the other without indicating . . . the relation of co-ordination or subordination between them.”

The opposite of parataxis is hypotaxis, the marking of relations between propositions and clause by connectives that point backward or forward. One kind of prose is additive – here’s this and now here’s that; the other asks the reader or hearer to hold in suspension the components of an argument that will not fully emerge until the final word. It is the difference between walking through a museum and stopping as long as you like at each picture, and being hurried along by a guide who wants you to see what you’re looking at as a stage in a developmental arc she is eager to trace for you."

I read through the reader's comments and was stopped in my tracts by Dario Nunez-Ameni: "Who looks for spelling mistakes in a a love letter?"

Is the speech a love letter? I don't know. From their educational backgrounds, I would think the Obamas are motivated by a sense of justice and a vision of a rainbow world. When they step out on stage I can hardly breathe. Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu are old men so maybe it's possible for a dreamer to die in his bed of old age.

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