Catachresis


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Related to Catachresis: chiasmus, zeugma

Catachresis

 

in stylistics, a combination of lexically incompatible words that form a unique and meaningful whole (compare with oxymoron, a combination of words with contrasting and opposite meanings, such as in “a living corpse.”)

There are two types of catachresis: (1) that which comes into being naturally, through the development of the nominative means of a language, and which may be perceived at first as incorrect word usage (“white brownstone,” “to sail a steamship”); and (2) that which is created deliberately, for an intended effect (“black gold,” “when the crab whistles”). Catachresis can be either a verbal blunder (“let not the arms of the sharks of imperialism extend to us”), where the tropes are joined mechanically, or an illustration of great artistic skill:

But through the listless night the serpents of remorse

More shrewdly burn within me …

A. S. Pushkin

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In chapter 1, "The Bearing Across of Language: Care, Catachresis, and Political Failure," Berger clearly and forcefully lays out the primary conflict that will enliven the readings of dys-/disarticulate figures throughout this book: the ways in which the representational tensions that construct dys-/disarticulate figures, which are overdetermined by discourses from religion to aesthetics to science, problematize their roles as objects of care, particularly in relation to sexuality.
His use of "prayer" provides a clear example of catachresis. Like most words with the prefix "cata-," catachresis suggests trouble.
(2) "Leg of a table" is one of the most commonly cited examples of catachresis. "When we say 'feuille de papier' or 'pied de table,'" observes Gerard Genette in referring to Pierre Fontanier's conflict with Cesar Dumarsais over catachresis, "we are using an obligatory metaphor, because the proper word does not exist, or no longer exists, or does not yet exist" (51).
His poetic language is not clever nonsense--which is what Taylor's description of catachresis may sound like--but is a presentation of what terrifies and inspires" (50).
Mistakes happen, sometimes intentionally (the figure is called catachresis in rhetorical theory).
(10) In this regard, if kinship is the precondition of the human--rather than the human a precondition for kinship--we might describe Antigone's claim, in Butler's words, as the "occasion for a new field of the human, achieved through political catachresis, the one that happens when the less than human speaks as human, when gender is displaced, and kinship founders on its own founding laws." (11)
reference," or catachresis (135), and argues that "there are
As a result, queer texts often deal with queer issues only through indirection, allusion, or even catachresis. Critical studies focusing on the coded nature of queer writing include Sedgwick, Yingling, Creech, and Quiroga.
In haunting anticipation, the catachresis of Richard's image of a mechanistic state machine which relies on human organisms for its operation is brought into the context of an impending First World War, which historians have labeled "the first industrial war, a war of cavalry and machine guns." (9)