Apophasis versus Cataphasis

Apophasis versus Cataphasis – Revelation/explanation via negative example, opposed to cataphasis (revelation/explanation via positive example, showing). An example is one common theological defense of God: He’s unseen, timeless, without bounding dimension or any limit, etc. Apophasis is more powerful than cataphasis in general: Especially when it comes to theme (emotion, soul), the best strategy is to show everything around a desired idea/emotion and allow the reader to come to her own (cataphatic) response. You want them to get it, positively, but your best hopes of achieving this are via apophasis. Examples include most of Cap’n Everard’s life/personality/dialogue in In the Cage: We are left, with our little hero, to imagine, to fill in the gaps with (purely fictive) positives. After the reveal, the theme is left apophatic: All we really know is that our hero is going to marry Mudge. The emotional response is left sketched via negatives: We mostly know she’s not marrying Everard; she’s not clinging onto her dreams; she’s not totally happy; she’s not destroyed, etc.

Leave A Comment