Everyday Oxymorons: My wish list

An oxymoron is a figure of speech that juxtaposes elements that appear to be contradictory. It is better explained by example: Living dead, alone together, same difference, deafening silence etc. 

I think I first heard the word oxymoron in seventh or eighth grade. How wonderful, I thought, it is to have two absolutely opposing words operate in complete conjunction with one another. The words that in my mind were sworn enemies, each trying to negate the other with their illusory guns, were standing right next to the other, displaying supportive intimacy. It is heartening, really. So oxymorons became my proof for all sorts of theories on universal harmony and balance. In a way, I started thinking of them like literary yin yangs.

I mean, seriously, they’re perfect. They’re a curious combination of words but they fit in so well that their oddity isn’t typically discovered until pointed out. You can pass off astonishing combinations of words together by pretending you’re being oxymoronic (the oxy- makes all the difference.) They embody the phrase “to eat your cake and have it too”. They’re so perfect, so utopian that I started to wonder if they could exist at all.

In a fit of overdrive, I applied oxymorons to everyday life. I embarked on a quest to find polar opposite things that not just coexist but also give strength to the other. I returned with the opposite. I returned with things that I wish would magically garner the wisdom of oxymorons. You know when you have to make a choice between two stupendous things, because even though you like them both very much, they do not seem to like each other? This is a list of such stuff. Stuff that you wish was as quixotic as an oxymoron.

Therefore presenting to you my wish list of everyday oxymorons aka combinations of beautiful but opposing stuff that I hope could one day live together:

Trees, Paper

This one has been said before. They’re both boons to humankind, essential for survival and civilization, respectively. However one of them must be unabashedly murdered for the other to be born. There are solutions though. Digitizing paper is ecologically beneficial. So I suppose we could stop the war by obliterating paper itself. But well, it isn’t a solution that brings contentment.

Free information and sharing, copyright

It’s true. Whether the excuse was convenience, laziness, unavailability of the said material or genuine poverty, we all have at some point indulge in some act of piracy. Okay, I shan’t generalize. A large faction of people indulge in all sorts of piracy. It seems like a utopian ideal, doesn’t it? A world where content i.e. “knowledge and culture” isn’t charged. But then comes the creator. Someone who has put in a lot of creative cells into the said project. Someone for whom the project is their source of income. And every pixel/alphabet/frame/other appropriate monomeric unit must be justly attributed as their intellectual property. But how does one implement that in a world of screenshots and forwards? I find this a confounder.

Individuality, Equality

This is not a tangible example, but I found it relevant nonetheless.  They aren’t opposites in the good-bad, sun-rain usage of opposites, but I seem to find that they do not exist together. Individuality seems to promote distinctions and equality does bear a close, undeniable relation to monotone. But they’re both perfectly good qualities. Individuality is an expression of being a unique life organism and a display of our hopes, dreams, desires. Equality is absolutely necessary in any society that claims a moral background. I wish there was a way where individual tendencies are highlighted and exalted but not judged unequal.

Stars, light

I have kept my personal heartbreaker for the end.

This doesn’t make sense right? How are stars and light adversaries? Stars are sources of light even. But wait, I have some logic, I assure you. Lights and stars are unarguably awesome and very necessary for human civilization. They’re often used as symbols for knowledge, progress, enlightenment. Lately however, the stars aren’t very visible in the sky, especially if you’re living in a metropolis. Some sort of idiotic pollution. Light pollution, in fact. The lights from cars, buildings shining in the night reflect in the sky and create a skyglow that hides the stars. It is a literal, vast glowing dome that exists over cities and towns. Now, I don’t find shutting off all lights in a city every night appealing. The lights are necessary, useful, beautiful even. But I’ve always dreamt of seeing the stars every night to. So I am conclusively stuck. (Of course there are attempts at solutions, better lighting, more focused lighting, etc. But they aren’t even remotely satisfactory. Who knows though, one day..)

Well, that’s just four things. But four items do make a list. I am sure however, that there are many more oxymorons I would love to wish true. I don’t know what the point of this list is but there is a point out there. An important one. Maybe its a lesson that there doesn’t have to be one right answer in multiple answers. Maybe this helps dispel the theory that stuff (ugh I need an alternative word for ‘stuff’ and ‘things’ ) is simply black or white. So maybe, just maybe, what oxymorons are actually trying to tell us that outwardly conflicting ideas could co-exist.

Oxymorons, the figure of speech which reveals the philosophy of life.


4 thoughts on “Everyday Oxymorons: My wish list

  1. I think my favourite oxymoronic phrase would be Fitzgerald’s description of the “the constant flicker” in his cult classic “The Great Gatsby.” Really enjoyed this piece. If you get a chance I talk about the above phrase in my most recent blog, I’m very new to this whole thing so I’m trying to get as many readers as I can.


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