Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Things Indiana Jones Has To Answer For

I came across the term "hysteron proteron" the other day. There's never any point trying to outdo Wikipedia, so I'll just paraphrase/plagiarize: it's a rhetorical device in which the second of two events is narrated before the first. Like when a tv show starts with a beloved character getting shot or something, and then flashes back to show what circumstances resulted in this compelling turn of events. Wikipedia uses The Odyssey as an example but personally I'm more familiar with Aaron Sorkin's use of this device. I'm drastically misrepresenting hysteron proteron here, but that's okay, because it's not the point.

The point is, when I read those words, I said to myself, "Isn't that what Mola Ram chants while he's trying to take out Indy's heart with his psychic powers, and more importantly his fingers?"

The answer is of course no, Mola Ram is not muttering about Greek rhetoric. He's saying "Mola Ram Sudha Ram," which, according to some person on the Internet, means "Mola Ram is the True Ram" and is "a sort of evil blasphemy" because Ram refers to Rama, a particularly admirable incarnation of Vishnu, the Supreme God in Hinduism.

What are we to learn from this? First, it would have been funnier if Mola Ram had been chanting, "Hysteron proteron onomatopoeia in medias res et cetera . . . " (For me, anyway.) Second, simply having seen Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom has now cost me 118 minutes plus a whole extra hour of my time on earth working out the insane ramblings of a fictional cult leader. I'm convinced that about half the time, having internet access comes between me and a higher quality of life.

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