Jeezny Horrorshow Mar22


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Jeezny Horrorshow


Lexicography is all about words and their meanings but more importantly knowing how and when to use them. The best words are the insightfully chosen ones. Take this quote from William F. Buckley Jnr: “We face a concrete problem in Europe given the tergiversation of Helmut Kohl on the modernising of the remaining nuclear missiles in West Germany.” This demonstrates that the word “tergiversation” meaning “the reversal of one’s opinion; backsliding” is a real one first of all and can apply to real-life situations. When are you ever really going to need the word “arachibutyrophobia”? One I like, which was vaguely familiar to me, is “callow”, an adjective, defined as “Lacking in adult sophistication, experience, perception or judgment.”

 Buckley Jnr., William F. The Lexicon: A cornucopia of wonderful words for the inquisitive word lover, Harcourt, 1996.

Remembering stuff

Remembering things like the order of the cards in a shuffled pack isn’t necessarily considered a required skill by most. But “mental athletes” compete to see who can retain the most information. Besides, remembering things is useful, very useful. For example, waiters and barmen need to remember long lists of orders; students may need to commit whole poems to memory; keeping friends can sometimes be a memory game, as anyone who’s ever forgotten their lover’s birthday will probably know. Skilled memory theory argues that continual, habitual practice can improve memory: K. Anders Ericsson argued that exceptionally talented “memorizers” are made, not born. Michel Siffre lived “beyond time” in a cave, without any of the usual items or routines were rely on and found his memory deteriorated. Eventually he couldn’t remember what happened the day before.

Foer, Joshua, Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything, Penguin 2011

Primitive man was more talented was his distant descendants.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau, the French philosophe, wrote about the effect of wealth and poverty on the personality. In Rousseau’s time, philosophers didn’t necessarily enjoy the confidence of today to question the Bible; the book of Genesis puts humans on earth quickly and, one could argue, miraculously. Even if you believed in what later became known as “Evolution” with a capital “E”, all you’d find as an origin was savagery which was considered irrelevant to any discussion about contemporary human life. He sought to illustrate how, by developing the potential to be moral, man instead became vicious. He also argued that primitive man was possessed of far keener natural talent than his distant descendants since modern man relies too much on technology.

Hampshire-Monk, Iain, A History of Modern Political Thought, Blackwell Publishers, 1992

Depeche Mode

Original lead singer Vince Clarke left in 1981 and was replaced by Martin Gore who took the band down a darker road. Maybe it was the break-up with his girlfriend, which was the impetus for his move to Berlin (that explains the synths!). The band enjoy the guidance of a kind of confidante, a mentor called Daniel Miller to whom their producers have always listened. The band once employed both a psychiatrist and a drug dealer simultaneously, firing the former before sending the latter away too. Gore has since disavowed drugs and alcohol and claims as a myth the notion that drugs increase your creativity.

The Ticket in The Irish Times, Friday, 22 March 2013