Prolepsis sees you coming

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Every language shares the gift of allowing us to insult one another.   I was recently taught a nasty, degrading Armenian term. Yet, as a non-Armenian speaking person, I have no idea which member of your family I would be insulting.   So, essentially, it’s pointless to even try.  Learning a new word is valueless without ownership of it’s meaning.

In my ADD-infused half-read article fashion, I stumbled across a word that caught my attention.  It was new to me.  But I wanted it.  Prolepses is a figure of speech meaning “‘the representation or assumption of a future act or development as if already exists,” as in: “he was a dead man when he entered.” It is used in literature to direct the story.  It is used in trial law to pre-empt a counter argument. In daily life, the word illustrates how we humans like to believe we know what’s about to happen.  We crave the illusion of knowing how every moment will turn out.  It makes us feel powerful.  “I knew that was going to happen!”  We smile and pat ourselves on the back for calling out the foreshadowing in our lives.  I, for one, know some real proleptic mother fuckers. 

There are times when two words just should not live next to one another. Like moving in next to your in-laws, it will color the relationship a dirty shade of gray.  The term “Renegotiating support” hits hard in this capacity.  

SUPPORT: to bear all or part of the weight of; hold up. 

Columns, walls, and foundations are the obvious support systems in an architectural structure. Also, a beam can support another beam. So, to renegotiate support here could be preemptive of watching something fall and crumble. The prolepsis seems naked and clear.  

And yet, the assumption of meaning really depends on whether you are the one needing or giving the support.  The column can stand alone.  But the structure needs support to stand.  For her, there is a dependence and need of support for survival.   Until, that is, she can balance and stand on her own. 

Language can be used to educate, to connect, to heal, to wound. Being proleptic isn’t all bad.  In fact there can be beauty in anticipating how it will all play out.  And yet, like Alice through the looking glass, we need to determine if we are the narrator of our experience, or the creator.

~JRB

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