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Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Back To Word List #5

I have lately been accused of using sesquipedalian verbiage in my posts --not by everybody, but by one guy and that's enough. Sesquipedalian just means "lots of syllables", big. In 1966, one of my favorite pastimes was driving over to Willie's house and discussing words. That year, one of the favorite semantic tongue-twisters in general was Antidisestablishmentarianism.  As ususal, Will leaned back smiling in his well-cushioned bamboo chair and asked me what I thought of it. I said I thought it was a 12-jointed godless reptile of a word and had no idea what it meant. He proceeded to parse it out for me. Turned out it started in England had to do with something very important, separation of church and state --and had a fundamental impact worldwide. I think disestablishment won here. Who knows? Will phoned me two days ago from Sonoma and invited me to his 80th, so I'll ask him again.  But to dispel the erroneous notion that my vocabulary tends toward the sesqu... the big, here is a repost of one of a series of Word Lists that introduced my blog so long ago:

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Word List #5

[For this installment of Word List, I selected as illustration a map painted by son David, depicting the character of his town, San Francisco.]



PRETTY:
This week, a friend in Sonoma wrote to inform me the Forbes Company had named his town one of the ten prettiest in the nation. As a parent, I disagree in principle with Forbes naming his town prettiest. It can only create resentment in other towns and cause them to grow up wrong. Nor does it help to divert admiration from Sonoma and say,"Oh, and here comes our dear little Bakersfield --she's at that oily, awkward stage, but such a nice personality." Also, showing off Sonoma while Cotati suffers a weight problem and her brother, Auburn, peevishly collects guns in the hills will just make her smug and give up on academics.

MYSTIC:
Unlike the example set by Sonoma's uncommunicative cousin, Richmond, not all mystics smell funny. That is a myth promulgated by his bookish, picayunish brothers, Berkeley and Davis, neither of whom gets out much. In truth, mystics seek the extraordinary experience of all-inclusive reality and bathe often as anybody else.

MYSTICISM:
As a belief or practice, mysticism forms around an enraptured, ineffable state --an ecstatic identification of the self in relation to all things, all events. This sense of totality is expressed by such phrases as,"All is one" and "One is all." You may recognize this as the motto of Alexandre Dumas's THE THREE MUSKETEERS --"tous pour un, un pour tous!"-- a novel demonstrating the need for mystics to be really good swordfighters.

DOES:
Of course, pretty is as pretty does, which is generally pleasant and I have exaggerated its schismatic potential. But what more effectively causes regional schism is political misbehavior seeking divisions along religio-ethnic lines, and among those who confuse race with phenotype --a problem that cannot be exaggerated. Where that happens I, like Richmond, go mystic: There is only one surviving human race, and it is all of us.  I usually hightail it before answering Jeremiads start their signatory rumbles --except this time. And maybe I smell a little funny too.

  1. I find the work of both father and son enlightening, provocative and delightful, showing once again that a thousand words (more or less) can be as much fun as one picture.
    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks Will. I'm planning to get a new car and will visit your pretty town again. Even I need to feel pretty sometimes.
    I include Willie's comment to the original text of my blog-glossary because its relevance is undiminished by the years. 
    *****************************************************************

    And to the other guy --who attacked my word usage-- and his toady who attacked my service to this country: people have big chunks of time they don't talk about. So don't prejudge (conclude ahead of facts). You might be ignorantly insulting someone whose patriotism is unimpeachable (can't be rescinded), and may have outranked you.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Backporch Epiphany

I was meditating in the backporch at a table I built 40 years ago of California pine and Mexican tile when I heard a persistent ringing --not my tinnitus but a lower frequency, somewhat flat. I woke and saw this blue owly thing between the Christmas mug and Las Vegas shot glass.


"Good Lord!" I said, "What're you?"

Owl:  I am an angel.

Geo.: But...but angels are suppose to be..."

Owl:  I know, robed and winged humanoids,  untrained social workers condemned to prop up yesterday's ideologies. We're owls now.

Geo.: Why were people not informed?

Owl: People are as they are, Geo., and it would be an impertinence to expect them to change.

Geo.: Can we not change for the better, Owl?

Owl: Sure, you'd be surprised at what conscience can do. And if that fails, self-delusion and positive thinking can work wonders.

Geo.: I prefer conscience.

Owl: An excellent first step, but victory is only relevant to the strength of the opposition.

Geo.: Flapdoodle!

Owl: An excellent second step! But say it softly. Our influence is finally inversely proportional to the noise we make.

Geo.: I  feel sleepy, Owl.  Is there any thing else?

Owl: Oh yes, much more --much more you must learn-- but in the meantime, be moderate in your behavior and habits, especially where spirits are concerned. There is danger at every turn.

Geo.: Like a bullet with my name on it?

Owl:  Heaven forbid! More likely a shot glass.
 I closed my eyes for what seemed like only a moment, and when I looked again, the shade was up and little blue owl was gone.
 

Friday, August 4, 2017

The Human Race and Horseblankets



I have been mainly away from the computer for some days, possibly a week or more, because I experienced something that had never happened to me before.  I got into a debate. This how the pumphouse thermometer  looked here:
It looked like that again today but we just had a power failure up and down our road. It lasted 45 minutes and our utility district website said this: 
Updated at 9:41 PM August 3rd: Outages
                                                      Affected Communities
                                                      Customers
                                                    
                                                          3759 Customers
 It was really dark all of a sudden! Norma called out from another room, "Geo.?!"

I answered, "WHO?

"Geo.!" She repeated.

"I don't know, Norma. It's really dark in the kitchen and I can't see who I am!"

"What happened to the lights?"

"Don't know that either. I'll go check."

I went outside and it was dark, hot and quiet. Yes, I checked the breaker-box even though I knew it was a general blackout. I reported a breeze outside, so we sat on a bench and talked. I like her. She asked me what I had started writing and I told her it was about an unfortunate disagreement with another blogger. She inquired further --as she always does-- and I said something about a dispute over a horse blanket. By and by the electrics were restored and I returned to whatever it was.

So I returned to this post. Various Latin phrases unpiled in my mind: homo quisquilrian -mankind the litterer; homo factorum claustris --mankind the cage-builder; homo sapiens --mankind the wise.  These are various names that collected in the dark, but they have in common a single idea. There is only the all-encompassing human race. I told my pen-pal so, and was rewarded with the accusation that I was a traitor to the white race. I replied, there is no white race. We are all of the human race and the variations are only phenotypes --surface differences among ethnicities-- and I am not worried about what color humans will be in the future.

He is very worried about what color they will be and accused me of "white genocide"--my family is mixed.  I gradually withdrew from his blog over a period of a week, thinking the temperature in the the Mohave, where he is, rises beyond the capacity of my pumphouse thermometer --in fact would bend the needle right off-- and somehow addled his thinking. It is more comforting to believe that than believe --despite the fact he is younger than I-- that, unlike other fossils, he is petrifying from the inside out.

I don't even have a horse.