The classical deffinition of a digression is that which happens when the direction of a conversation (or in a formal setting; in writing) is changed and it is done so on purpose with a particular motivation behind the deviation. However, the modern day definition would not include the part about it being on purpose. You can do it not knowingly, and it often ends up at the end of a digression with someone saying: "oh...but what was I talking about" or "oh wow, I am way off topic, sorry" or "anyhoo". Speakers also say "but I digress" and get back on topic. Some people think that in this case, "I digress" refers to going back on topic, when in reality it means that they realise that they are off topic (a better way to say it or at least more clear to people who make this mistake would be "but oh no, I am digressing).
In these cases the speaker has no idea that he or she is off topic at the time and these are usually cases of absent mindedness or people with cloudy minds. Absent mindedness can indeed occur while speaking to someone. People with cloudy minds (which is in Spanish known as "un mente nublado" ... though ... that literal translation doesn´t really work so well as there are better expressions than that. Ofcourse Spanish is full of amazing expressions, like, while we only say "I love you" they could say "te quiero" (meaning I want you litteraly) or te amo (which is for real true love), sometimes Spanish people say they know a lot about love or people say Spanish people know a lot about love, but who knows which culture really knows what love really is better? While Arabs talking to each other doesn´t sound very romantic they can know love don´t they? Beautiful woman fall in love with rich men right? Even animals love I think ... ?
The word digression comes from degressio in latin and many other words which we also use can be linked to it. For instance a regression, i.e. his cancer has regressed is similar in the sense that we look at the direction of something, in this case, the direction of the cancer has gone from going away to now growing and multiplying in the organ tissue. Another word would be progress, in this case the direction of something improving or going up or following an ideal path. An example would be about ... for instance personal development which is a never ending process and ones progress is hopefully good and heading in a direction you like. Ofcourse, some people don't have much direction in life and cannot figure out where to go. I always pity people like that. I kind of see them floating around like the wind is carrying them somewhere and they don't care where it leads or are not strong enough to anchor themselves into something. It reminds me of my brother who drinks a lot and takes things I don't want to know what those things are ... and then goes places and does things and says that its not his fault what he does. I think thats a bit of a copout cause, he chose to drink didnt he? And I dont know who held a gun to his head when he was separating the coke lines. That coke is like the wind I was talking about earlier, taking him wherever the coke told him to go. Its a really hard drug. Did you know that according to the so called experts at wikipedia, the average amount of cocaine bought on the street has a purity level of only 50 percent and quite often about 5 percent. That means for every one grain of pure cocaine there are 19 grains of something else, like sugar or scraped class or other things that make your nose blead.
The classical meaning should not be forgotten. A digression, was originally a word used for those who not just changed direction of a conversation or writing absent mindedly, but done on purpose. It was commonly to do this when giving speeches or spaking about politics. An example today would be that of politicians dodging questions by answering in a way that does not address the original question or even answering the question with a different question which is a digression, in this case also an evasion. A common conversation would be "Mr. Senator, have you had a chance to read the new bill on legalizing the sale of human organs to China?" and the person would answer "Thats a verry good question and I think people should not forget that America and China have a long history with each other and my wife infact is taking Chinese lessons and is making good headway". The aim is to get the interviewer to be amazed that the Senators wife is learning such a challenging language and forget about the bill that would send a few thousand hearts and colons and other organs a year to China that maybe people in America with heavy drinking problems might need. Politicians are good at this and to be able to sucessfully digress is an important skill if you want to not only take interviews but stay in office. The former vice president, Mr. Cheney, was not only good at digressions but even better at not taking interviews. His wife gave more interviews for a few quilt making magazines than his husband in the political arena. He always seemed to end up far away from cameras and journalists in some unknown location or shindig. My wife had a bit of a naughty name for the vice president. It was poopy pants Chaney. I didn´t think it was naughty so much as silly. A better name would have been poopy dick head whose pants are so full of shit he stains everything he sits down on. I get so angry when I think about him. He doesn´t even have a face really. Can you make out his face? If you were a good artist would you be able to draw it? Has anyone ever been able to make a portrait of him considering he has no face?
Family guy is known for placing radical digressions in the middle of a story line. Some episodes are so filled with such digressions that there is little left of plot. Take away the digressions and you take away most of the humor, plot and flow. It often works in the following way: One character says to Peter "Oh Peter, how could you do something so stupid" and then Peter says "You think that was Stupid, you should have seen the time I..." which usualy involves hurting someone badly, stealing things from poor people, using feces or urine or sexual fluids to do something unthinkable, to have sex or to virtually rape someone or something. The lead up to the digression itself can be a digression. For instance Peter might be eating cereal and the baby character will choke on something, then the mother will ignore the baby and say "Peter aren´t you late for work" which is a digression from the baby choking and Peter might say "You think thats irresponsible parenting, how about the time I" and often follows a scene where he hits his wife with a bat while pregnant or nearly kills his children which is a very large digression. Family guy is steadily getting worse and I think that the digressions are the only funny part left in it. There are also few regressions these days. I think I could write a better script myself. When I was writing my doctoral thesis I would often take breaks and write poems to the girl who is now my wife. She liked them a lot and I think she still has some of them. She threw away the ones I wrote her when we were taking a break which was her idea. I kept a few of them.
Writing good hate poems are difficult because you can never encapsulate the sheer rage and anger you feel at the moment. For instance, when my current wife and I were dating for a while and we took that "break" which was her way of basically doing whoever she wanted on campus while I paid the last phone bill which was mostly long distance calls to her parents, I was busy writing her dark dark poems that rarely rhymed or inspired anyone. I wrote a lot of different versions of each poem until I wrote one that would hopefully hurt her as much as she was hurting me. I read them now and think I was pretty dorky and that now matter how much someone hurts you that you should not hurt them back. But its hard when the only thing on your mind is just how many jocks and fake intellectuals are doing your girlfriend, you just want to hurt her back with dark dark poetry. I have a book of bad written poetry. It was given to me by a colleague who was always clever with gifts and the book was actually pretty cool. He once gave the male secretary roses and the female secretary a tie at Christmas which made everyone in the office laugh. Im not sure if he did that on purpose or not but he acted as though he did while everyone laughed. I didnt find it that funny considering what the secretaries are like and the gifts were pretty suitable. We still have the same secretaries who do their job well though at times it gets a little mediochre their work. I was thinking about getting a new secretary or maybe an additional one. In this job market there are probably lots of qualified secretaries that would work for next to nothing. Did I give the kids their lunch money today? Christmas is coming soon. It comes so fast. Those Romans have a word for everything don´t they?