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Chiastic Structure (wikipedia.org)
41 points by hdivider 13 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 12 comments

They mention it's used in oral literature as an aid to memorization. It can also be seen as a human error-correction technique, just like a transmission over a noisy channel this allows the text to be preserved using oral transmission over many generations.

There are many other literary techniques which can be seen in the same light, the simplest of which is rhymes. There's also alliterations, verse-lengths in poetry being restricted to the right amount for chunking, anadiplosis, chiasmus in a more general sense...

I've been working on a series of texts that combine these techniques with mnemonic systems to try and achieve super-human speed in vocabulary acquisition for fun but they're really hard to combine into a text that is somewhat natural.

Re: your last paragraph: that sounds awesome! Anything you can share on those texts? Sounds like a great idea.

Mormons use this as evidence that the Book of Mormon has ancient origins. In response, someone wrote an article sarcastically arguing that the chiasmus in dr seuss’ Green Eggs and Ham is evidence of the ancient origin of that book as well.

Log files showing function call trees can also show a chiastic structure. This is evidence that the code I wrote is divine.

Chiastic structure is more than just repetition. It is a poetic way of showing central themes. It makes the structure part of the communication and that’s why it’s effect is more than just repetition but that of central foundations. From a Mormon (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) perspective it gives deeper meaning to scriptures such as Alma 36 which is in it self an entire chapter in supplication who’s center is Jesus Christ. It has special meaning to those who believe the foundation of grace and source of redemption is Jesus Christ.

Chiastic structure and it’s use of central themes of course is not only in Hebrew scripture but is also shared in the Quran https://www.researchgate.net/publication/340362494_Explainin...

Really makes you appreciate the subtlety of arts in literature and popular media of old. It’s unfortunate that in many ways we (Americans at least) are no longer subjected to as much subtlety through laugh tracks and the like. Discovering these gems is really fun.

Chiastic structures are one of the most common forms of Hebrew Poetry. In fact, a chiasm is really a subset of a parallelism, which is what Hebrew poetry is primarily based on(English poetry, by contrast, is primarily based on meter).

The same person to first identify parallelism as a distinguishing feature of Hebrew poetry was Robert Lowth. Perhaps most interestingly, Lowth's works on English grammar are also responsible for a lot of the supposed rules in English that we dont apply [0](e.g. never end a sentence with a preposition, unless you have to)


The Hebrew use of chiasms is what first convinced me that a lot of hyperliteralist interpretations of the Torah were just ignorant.

A person cannot intentionally convert a story into a poetic structure without also distorting its literalness.

And the contemporary readers of the time would have known this as well.

Interesting, but makes sense, it also works for literally packing/unpacking things. You take out pieces on top first from a board game box, and then go deeper. At the end you have to put them back in in reverse order for everything to fit.

As a fan of Star Wars, this has been the text that made me learn the most about this structure:


The book Cloud Atlas also follows this structure, but several levels deeper: A B C D E F E' D' C' B' A'

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