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JuxtapositionI originally learned the word “juxtaposition” when I saw it as the title of a book (Juxtaposition). The word sounds fancy because it has Latin roots, but if you translate it, it has a simple meaning, “putting next to”.
Juxtaposition isn't something the mind does, but rather something it responds well to. If you present your mind with just about any two different things—put them next to each other—it will naturally compare them and try to find parallels between them.
The principle Don't Fight Your Mind can applied to juxtaposition. For example, if you're stuck thinking about some particular problem, you can get new ideas by exposing your mind to lots of unrelated things. I remember that back in high-school English class we were often directed to compare and contrast a pair of works; perhaps the juxtaposition was supposed to make it easier for us to come up with ideas?
There's also some connection between juxtaposition and humor. A couple of years ago I saw an article (in the New York Times?) about a computer program that generated ideas for ad campaigns by juxtaposition, taking a familiar situation and putting in an unfamiliar element; the results were moderately funny, and so were successful at getting people's attention. Or consider the following story, from The Onion.
Lanthanum Quits Periodic Table Of Elements
Grand Analogy, The
Rule of Correspondence, The
Some Memes for Oni
Urgent vs. Important
What Is Law?
Wrong Comparison, The
o April (2000)
@ April (2001)