Re: Indigenous cultures

Lluis Botella (
Fri, 10 Nov 1995 12:19:24 --100

Hi there,

I'd like to contribute to Harry Oxley's fascinating list of intriguing
questions with the following list of oxymorons a friend (Peter Knowles)
picked up on the Net.

Extensive briefing
Nondairy creamer
Critically acclaimed
Reagan Democrat
Homeless shelter
Live recording
Smokeless cigarettes
Doctor Death
Baked Alaska
Permanent temp
Great Depression
Minor miracle
Perfect idiot
Strangely familiar
Never again
Unemployment benefits
Friendly fire
Grateful Dead
Science fiction
Temperance Party
Civil War
Exercise junkie
Even odds
Soviet Union
Bad sex
Ill health
Bottoms up
Radical right
Shock therapy
No-fault divorce
Criminal law
Definite maybe
Domestic tranquillity
Vanilla fudge
Executive secretary
Fresh frozen
Numb feeling
Plastic glasses
Tragic comedy
Night light
Foxy chick
Pretty ugly
Working vacation

I recall Kramer and Bopp's (1989, p. viii) suggestion that a group of
scholars interested in the study of psychological metatheory from a
dialectical and contextualist viewpoint be called "The Oxymoronic Society",
being each member of the group an "Oxymoron" in his or her own right.
(Doesn't it sound like Lewis Carroll's "The Hunting of the Snark"?).

My question is wheteher a constructivist-PCP approach to oxymorons would
be fruitful. Is an oxymoron a result of applying the two poles of the same
construct simultaneously? Is it, therefore, a threat to the Dychotomy
Corollary? Can the massive presence of oxymorons in ordinary discourse be
the result of an increasing postmodernization of linguistic practices,
proving that all discourse is ultimately self-contradictory and, therefore,
that "wrong you are whatever you think, unless you think you're wrong,
in which case you may be right, but you don't mean what you think you say
anyway"? Should self-coherence continue to be the goal of practices such
as psychotherapy, or can we indulge in the ultimate playful approach of
oxymoronic postmodernism by toying with the idea of a "saturated self"
whose goal is not integration but fragmentation and incoherence?

I propose this questions as a form of "serious play" (another oxymoron,
created by Kenneth Gergen).

Oxymoronic references:

Kramer, D.A., and Bopp, M.J. (Eds) (1989). Transformation in clinical and
developmental psychology. New York: Springer-Verlag

Luis Botella