Oxymoronica

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The English language has often been criticized for being a mishmash of different languages with no clear rules. While this is true to some extent, this characteristic of the language allows you to make powerful statements, both in the intensity of feeling and the complexity of communication. The Oxymoron is a language construct which appears false, but which is often correct at some deeper level. Oxymoronica is Dr. Mardy Grothe's book about them, and it contains fourteen hundred of the doctor's favorite oxymoronic quotes.

Most everyone is familiar with at least a few oxymoronic phrases; some of those which come immediately to my mind are "virtually certain", "military intelligence", and "fresh frozen". But these are just snippets of wordplay; Dr. Grothe's book contains quotations by famous (and infamous) figures from before the common era to the modern day. The chapters are arranged categorically, with titles like "The Human Condition", "Sex, Love, & Romance" and "Oxymoronic Advice". The chapters each begin with the author's observations on the examples which lie within, interspersed with those witticisms which he believes best illustrate the principle which inspired the chapter.

The quoted range from comedians to senators. For example, in the section of Wit & Humor, you'll see Woody Allen ("Life is full of Misery, loneliness and suffering— and it's all over much too soon.") and Molière ("It infuriates me to be wrong when I know I'm right.") In marriage, home, & family life Nietzsche says "If married couples did not live together, happy marriages would be more frequent." while Socrates is said to have said "It doesn't matter whether you decide to marry or stay single; either way you'll be sorry." In fact, one of the great joys of the book is the range and contrast in the figures quoted and in the breadth of their various views, which can in turn of course be quoted to make nearly any point. Beyond its obvious and perhaps niche use as reference material, this book is also an excellent bathroom reader or coffee table decoration (it's small but it's got a cute cover) since due to the nature of its contents, it's eminently easy to put down and pick back up.

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