Allusion: Figure of explication using a brief or casual reference to a famous person, group, historical event, place, or work of art. It is important to stress that the referent of an allusion be generally well-known. Sources include history, myth, and the Bible. Contemporary instances of allusion extend to media created content, events, and persons -- even to the extent that a character in one movie may use an allusion in referring to a fictional, but nonetheless well-known, event or person from another movie. Popular music lyrics are a further source of allusion.

Examples

"And finally youíre all familiar with Dr. [Ian] Wilmut's cloned sheep. We actually missed the real story behind this. Weíre so interested in talking about when this will happen with humans. (And, by the way, if we havenít already done it somewhere, the cloning of a human being is likely anytime. Itís no longer a theoretical issue; itís just a question of whoís going to do it.) The real story behind the sheep is that Dr. Wilmut created the prototype for bio-industrial design. Heís the Henry Ford of the Biotech Century. It is now possible to replicate in countless numbers exact copies of an original living creature with the same kind of quality controls and engineering standards we did using mass production and assembly line factory work with inert materials. Thatís whatís so important about this animal. We moved from the industrial age to the bio-industrial age."

-- Jeremy Rifkin, The BioTech Century

"Many in our country do not know the pain of poverty, but we can listen to those who do. And I can pledge our nation to a goal: When we see that wounded traveler on the road to Jericho, we will not pass to the other side."

-- George W. Bush, 2000 Inaugural Address

Note: The reference here is to the biblical character in the parable about the good Samaritan.

"Reviewing a cost-benefit analysis for every military base in the country is as mind-numbing as a Radiohead concert...And deciding which military bases we don't need anymore is the most politically disastrous thing you could ever get involved with."

-- delivered by Bradley Whitford from the TV Series The West Wing, Season 5, Ep. 15)

  "Iran and ISIS are competing for the crown of militant Islam. Both want to impose a militant Islamic empire -- first on the region and then on the entire world. They just disagree among themselves who will be the ruler of that empire. In this deadly game of thrones, thereís no place for America or for Israel.

- Benjamin Netanyahu, Third Joint Session of Congress Address

Question: On a matter of policy, is this Administrationís policy that an attack on a U.S. company constitutes an attack on the U.S. government? Youíre clearly holding the state of North Korea responsible here. So can you explain that policy?

Mr. Bossert: I will say that itís not about holding a country accountable; itís about simple culpability. Weíve determined who was behind the [WannaCry] attack and weíre saying it. Itís pretty straightforward. Itís, 'All Iíve learned about cybersecurity, I learned in kindergarten.' Weíre going to hold them accountable, and weíre going to say it. And weíre going to shame them for it."

-- Tom Bossert, Press Briefing on WannaCry Malware Attribution

Note: The allusion here is to American author Robert Fulghum's book All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, which promulgated and popularized the notion that the fundamental rules of good conduct acquired during childhood ought to be normative for adult behavior (including -- here, especially -- honesty and accountability).

Jon Krakauer: "We have the first radio call from just below the summit -- Rob [Hall] asking for help, saying 'Doug [Hansen] and I have run out of oxygen...Doug's in trouble...We need help.'"

David Breashears: "We're 5000 feet away -- 5000 feet away on Everest. At those elevations, you might as well be trying to rescue the people in Apollo 13."

-- from the Discovery Channel documentary Everest: Death Mountain

"Well, I don't know what will happen now. We've got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn't matter with me now, because I've been to the mountaintop.  And I don't mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will. And He's allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over. And I've seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land! And so I'm happy, tonight. I'm not worried about anything. I'm not fearing any man! Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord!!

- Martin Luther King, Jr., "I've Been to the Mountaintop"

Note: There are at least two allusions in this passage. One is an allusion to Moses' plea to God to cross the Jordan river and enter the "promised land" set aside for the Israelites upon the culmination of their 40-year journey through the "wilderness" (Deut 3: 23-27). God allowed Moses to view the land from a distance, high atop a mountain, but denied him the satisfaction of physically entering it. A second allusion (perhaps an allusion within an allusion) may be to a song entitled the "Battle Hymn of the Republic,"  -- alternatively, "Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory" -- whose lyrics allude to God's coming judgment upon the wicked (Isaiah 63, Revelation 19) at the end of the age.

"And finally, a worldwide program of farm productivity and food distribution, similar to our country's "Food for Peace" program could, now, give every child the food he needs. But man does not live by bread alone, and the members of this organization are committed by the Charter to promote and respect human rights."

- John F. Kennedy, Final United Nations Address

Rhetorical Figures in Sound

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