Saturday, July 31, 2010

sirenian


\sye-REE-nee-un\

noun

: any of an order (Sirenia) of aquatic herbivorous mammals (as a manatee, dugong, or Steller's sea cow) that have large forelimbs resembling paddles, no hind limbs, and a flattened tail resembling a fin

The word SIRENIAN derives from the same source as the sirens of Greek mythology. That said, a "sea cow" somewhat clashes with the idea of the beautiful and alluring half-bird-half-woman creatures beckoning from an island in the Mediterranean. According to sirenian.org, these animals got their name from associations with mermaids, another offshoot of the half-woman-half-something else creature. European explorers, including Columbus, thought these exotic creatures to be mermaids because of the "pectoral breasts, dextrous forelimbs, and fish-like tails." Columbus commented in his ship's log:

They were not as beautiful as they are painted, although to some extent they have a human appearance in the face....

I really hope Columbus didn't take advantage of any mermaid-like SIRENIANS. I'm sure he'd been at sea for quite some time. The mermaid as a sexual being is fascinating in that she is essentially impenetrable. Mermaid-human relations involve a lot of compromise. Take Ariel from The Little Mermaid, for example. She had to give up her whole family and life in the sea in order to be able to fuck a man. In Splash, it's the other way around. Tom Hanks lets go of his life as a produce distributor to be with Darryl Hannah in an underwater kingdom. Of Mermaids. And Mermen. I'm not really sure what I'm trying to say—humans and mermaids cannot co-exist? Or their relationships are stronger since they're based in sacrifice? Or Christopher Columbus was a pervert.

Or a little bit of all of the above.

Friday, July 30, 2010

inchoate


\in-KOH-ut\

adjective

: being only partly in existence or operation;especially : imperfectly formed or formulated

A lovely phrase included in the etymology: the formlessness that often marks beginnings.


the formlessness that often marks beginnings
the way things seem to unfold into themselves with no actual start

trying to remember the first time you saw someone, knowing the first time in no way held the possibility of such significant future times
a beginning, often established only after the fact
a subjective concept existing only where we decide to place it

let's see, where do i start
an address and hour scribbled on a post-it
a dark and stormy night
the way in which a film breaks into a place that seems to pre-exist outside of those two hours in a dark theatre
knowing everything is a cycle and therefore has no beginning or end, but begins only when you realize you are in it


merging onto a highway, jumping into a river, waking up—suddenly and INCHOATELY becoming part of something that has always been there and will always be there, going, moving, unfolding, whether you are there or not.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

adjure


\uh-JOOR\

verb

1 : to command solemnly under or as if under oath or penalty of a curse 2 : to urge or advise earnestly

I immediately confused ADJURE with the word with adjourn, to suspend or postpone to a later time, or indefinitely—as in, the court is adjourned. Not so. I think I saw the word oath and went for it. Apparently this word aims to confound, since Merriam warns me TWICE not to confuse ADJURE with the closely related ABjure, meaning to renounce or abstain from. I'm all mixed up.

My favorite part of the above definition: "penalty of a curse." A gypsy's ultimatum. I wonder how often the average person gets commanded under these conditions? When I do a google search for "gypsy curse," the first website I find is a Yahoo! Answers page posing the question: How to break a gypsy curse? Here's the solution:

In the book Death and Destruction, there's a spell for protection you could use. You need to get some conjure formulas called Fiery Wall of Protection -- you get the oil, and either the powder or the bath salt. You draw a bath and put some of the Fiery Wall powder or salt into it, and you also dress four small white candles with the oil and position them around the corners of the bathtub. You light them, and you get into the tub and let them burn down. This makes a "wall of protection" and, also, it washes away any existing jinx you may have had.

Hm. But seriously, I don't want to fuck with any gypsies. Have you read Thinner? That shit is messed up.

Curse is actually a really interesting concept in that, like luck, it exists only inside one's perception to explain the repetitive occurrence of negative events. To ADJURE suddenly seems like an act of negative reinforcement— a "take out the trash or I'll render you barren" sort of thing. How sneaky. ADJURE is like a threat that goes without saying; the idea behind the phrase: If I were you I wouldn't do that. Some heavy-handed advice with the implication of negative repercussions.

This word turned out to be heftier than I thought.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

friable


\FRYE-uh-bul\

adjective

: easily crumbled or pulverized

According to Merriam-Webster, the word FRIABLE is often used within the context of discussing asbestos. The FRIABLE nature of these commercially exploited silicate minerals* renders them perilous to our porous lungs. I remember learning about the dangers of asbestos in grammar school—I mentally grouped it with other such foreboding threats as scoliosis, bathtub electrocution (via blow-dryer), and head lice.

My immediate associations with asbestos are with ceilings, and rightfully so. A textured decorative finish known as Artex was produced with trace amounts of white asbestos until the 1980s, bringing the fashionable toxic substance into many American homes. While tearing out the (likely) sixty-or-seventy-year-old rotting sheet rock ceiling from the room above our garage, my eleven-year-old self spotted some discoloring and thought ASBESTOS!, quickly holding my breath and scurrying outside for some fresh air. I did not realize I was looking at mold, also not so great for my lungs, but this incident speaks to the important facts left out of elementary school scare tactics, i.e. asbestos, like head lice, is not always visible to the naked eye.

For more information about the time bomb that is asbestos, look here.

On a random note, I could see the word FRIABLE making it into a break-up conversation:

I feel like our relationship is going to be pulverized at any moment—we're just too...FRIABLE. It's not working out.




*I can thank Wikipedia for that one...

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

hobson's choice

\HAHB-sunz-choyss\

noun

1 : an apparently free choice when there is no real alternative
2 : the necessity of accepting one of two or more equally objectionable alternatives






HOBSON'S CHOICE—responsible for allowing us to embrace our spurious liberty of judgment.

You are free to do as we tell you.

Monday, July 26, 2010

parlay


\PAHR-lay\

verb

1 : to bet in a parlay
2 a : to exploit successfully b : to increase or otherwise transform into something of much greater value

To elaborate, a traditional PARLAY move is when one bets the original wager plus all the winnings. A wager of confidence or recklessness or luck. Nothing to lose; everything to lose. Interestingly, the first definition implies the act, while the second suggests success.


So, which is it? Perhaps it's a paradox—to successfully PARLAY is to assume success, while success must be proceeded by the act of the PARLAY—an act of blind faith, so to speak.


Apparently, the word PARLAY holds significance within the world of pirates—at least, according to Pirates of the Caribbean, which I would say is the authority on modern pirate culture. The word has something to do with the "pirate's code;" here is the context:


"PARLAY! I invoke the right of PARLAY! According to the Code of the Brethren, set down by the pirates Morgan and Bartholomew, you must take me to your Captain!"


Okay. The "right of PARLAY." Still a bit vague; I take PARLAY to mean either a) take me to your captain, or b) a sort of get out of jail free card...? Perhaps declaring such a right is a gamble of sorts. I mean, I guess anything declared to a bunch of pirates would be a gamble.


(More about pirate codes here.)


Regarding the Pirates of the Caribbean series: I went to one showing of the first film in a $3 theatre and ended up fooling around with my date the entire time. What was I PARLAYING? A reputation (if I had one), the future of my relationship with this fellow, and my $3. Or, rather, his $3. And I would say we PARLAYED that $3 into way more than its intended worth.





Sunday, July 25, 2010

poetaster


\POH-uh-tass-ter\

noun

: an inferior poet

It turns out the suffix -aster means "second-rate." Hence words like POETASTER, which I initially read as "poe taster." (Huh?)

I think this word and others like it are pretty useless. It's just a means for snobs to verbally insult people via throwing a Latin suffix onto the end of a word and hence sounding more learned. What a joke. If I ever actually heard someone saying the word POETASTER I would punch him in the face.

I did, however, discover some other -asters that were interesting:

mathematicaster - minor or inferior mathematician

logicaster - a petty logician

and my favorite...

usageaster - self-appointed and conservative language usage expert.

Wow.

For a more comprehensive list, look at THE PHRONTISTERY, aka "a thinking place"—another website devoted to "spreading the joy of the English language." Most of the definitions on the list imply the idea of a petty or mediocre version of someone more talented, serious, or true. Phrontistery's web-m(aster) notes that these words are little used today.

Why? Because one could bypass all the -asters and simply say "you suck."




Saturday, July 24, 2010

tactile


\TAK-tul\

adjective

1 : perceptible by touch
2 : of, relating to, or being the sense of touch

Words like TACTILE and tangible make pretty frequent appearances in my vernacular. Both derive from the Latin tangere, to touch. There is a definite security wrapped in the idea of TACTILITY, a place where I find a fair amount of comfort—

here it is, the floor underneath my feet, a key unlocking a door, a note scribbled on a scrap of paper crumpled in my pocket.

*

I've been slowly going through my belongings, trying to purge objects and accept that sentimentality is in my head, not inherent to whatever useless thing that seems to be communicating with me. Here are things I think about in the face of getting rid of stuff:

1) I haven't used/worn/thought about this _______ in a year, but WHAT IF I need it at some point?

2) Aw, this reminds me of ________; if I lose this I will inevitably lose the attached memory.

3) (Rarely) I spent $____ on this and I'm not sure I've yet gotten my money's worth.

4) I don't need this, but someone might want to borrow it at some point. And I want it to be here to lend.

The only objects I ever regret parting with are books, movies, and music—items whose revisitation value holds some intellectual merit. Otherwise, I have sent things on their merry way and never thought twice about their absence, mostly because I have a crappy short term memory and probably forget I even owned them in the first place.

An interesting item I hold onto is a nearly fifteen-year-old xerox copy of a page from a french dictionary. I do not keep it because I can learn something from what is written on the page, and arguably the above reasons don't apply to its value (while #2 comes close, it falls short due to the overwhelming presence of an idea I'm about to explore).

I've been thinking some about objects and the essence they carry (or, rather, that I tell myself they carry). I've read a bit about this idea in various places that I hope to have written down because I'm unable to recall. The idea that an object embodies the essence of a previous owner or a memory or an experience. What is valuable about the xerox is that someone important to me held in his hand. I sense this every time I touch it, as though the now creased and weathered piece of paper is some sort of connecting channel between us. Unlike other objects of sentiment, the xerox does not conjure a memory but a TACTILE feeling, as though by my holding the paper I am somehow holding his hand.

What will happen if I get rid of this object? Where does that essence go? After all, no matter what I do with that paper, it will still exist, in some shape or form. And the idea of the essence is already there, so like the paper it will simply change shape or weight or value, but it will go nowhere.

This is both comforting and disconcerting. Not to mention that it's 90 degrees, it's been some time since I've eaten, and I've just seen Inception at the Cinemagic theatre. Believe it or not, I started writing this before I saw the film.

Friday, July 23, 2010

garner


\GAHR-ner\

verb

1 a : to gather into storage b : to deposit as if in a granary
2 a : to acquire by effort : earn b : accumulate, collect

To start, granary : a building in which grain is stored, a.k.a. a GARNER at some distant and unknown point in English history. Noun becomes verb; place to store becomes the act of storing, accumulating, collecting, etc. And so on.

In North America the granary is called a "grain elevator." Figures.

So. GARNER. I kind of want this word to mean "covet," as I picture maniacal man—whose eyes consequently look in two different directions—rolling around in a massive pile of bulgar wheat.

If you don't have room in your modest backyard for a separate building in which to store your grain, FEAR NOT. According to organic-gardening-and-homesteading.com, one can store grain in a simple 5-gallon container purchased from your average paint supply store. While GARNERING into a granary would be ideal, it's not always practical, especially in the inner-city.

It's important to think about storing grain in case of an emergency; for example: ice storms, earthquakes, hurricanes, black outs, bioterrorism, nuclear warfare, tsunamis, Y2K, volcanoes, tornadoes, depression, and the Atkin's diet.

Get motivated, get prepared, and get GARNERED.


Thursday, July 22, 2010

inenarrable


\in-ih-NAIR-uh-bul\

adjective

: incapable of being narrated : indescribable

In the next year I need to write a book about...something. Anything I want. And yet I still gravitate toward writing about my friend Brian's suicide—out of habit, out of empty obligation, out of a desire to finish the seemingly unfinishable. This is a topic I have written about for years, but as I really sit down and try to organize my thoughts and ideas, I feel overwhelmed, discouraged, bored, unattached, and lost.

I wrote a short piece on the subject for a personal narrative workshop. My professor psychoanalyzed, as she often does, and told me I needed to ask myself: Why have I held onto this for so long? Why is it a pain that hurts so good? What is it masking? I've thought a lot about this over the last couple months, forcing myself to figure out what's at stake in this story. What happens if I let go to something I've held onto for so long? Who am I when I let go?

This is a difficult subject to write about—not for the obvious reasons. It is difficult because it has been sixteen years since the event occurred, because it is about absence and not substance, and because I haven't yet figured out what happens if I let go.

Perhaps the absence is INENARRABLE. Or, at least, right now. Although I'm not sure what else can happen in order for me to fully realize its nenarrability.

I'm just making up words left and right. Why? Because I can.

One day I'll figure this out, even if it means figuring out there's nothing to figure out.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

declivity


\di-KLIV-uh-tee\

noun

1 : downward inclination
*2 : a descending slope

According to raptureready.com, there is a clear path following the DECLIVITY of one's downward spiral that can be observed in these eight stages:

1) All-the-Time-in-the-World Syndrome

2) Overconfidence

3) Denial

4) The Lack of a Foundation

5) The Tolerance Factor

6) Unsuccessful Attempts to Stop a Habit

7) Emotions are Stronger than Reason

8) "I Don't Care Anymore"

Of course, raptureready.com's solution to one's DECLIVITY is obviously a renewal in the reliance on God's grace.

According to NIN, "God is dead and no one cares; if there is a hell I'll see you there." This concept probably fits under stages 4 and 8. NIN embraces the so-called downward inclination. And, in all fairness, I would put my faith in NIN as the authority on the downward spiral.

Sorry, raptureready.com. You should stick to "ecstatic joy or delight." DECLIVITY is not your forte.





Tuesday, July 20, 2010

conn


\KAHN\

verb

: to conduct or direct the steering of (as a ship)

In 1963 the USPS instituted the use of two-letter state abbreviations in order to make room for the new and exciting zip code. Prior to this rule, the name of the state was often entirely spelled out, or abbreviated according to the list in the Associated Press Stylebook. As in the APS, Conn. = Connecticut, my home state. I always remember writing "Conn." in my return address, until one day I was told otherwise. This may have been in 1987 when the U.S. Secretary of Commerce approved the use of two-letter codes within government documents, thereby making it more widely used. Or maybe not. Maybe I just didn't know any better and somebody made me feel foolish for writing out Conn. when I could have just been writing CT. That's entirely possible.

I'd like to admit something about Connecticut: I actually like the place. Of course it's common to harbor some level of animosity toward where one grew up, but the longer I am away, the more I enjoy every return visit.

Here are some things I learned about Connecticut in the last five minutes:

- The name derives from the Mohegan word quonehtacut, meaning "place of long tidal river." I don't know what river to which this name refers. Housatonic?
- It is known as The Constitution State (I did know this) because it developed the first constitution, apparently, EVER (I did not know this part).
- Home of the first: payphone, can opener, firsbee, and (according to CT.gov) the first hamburger, served at Louie's Lunch in New Haven.

Okay. Enough of that.

Let's get serious about CONN here. According to Robert A. Heilein—"the dean of science fiction writers"—a human being should be able to "change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, CONN a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, and die gallantly."

This is a tall order. I feel pretty confident about 11 of these 21 demands. Another 5 I could do with a little help. And the last 5 would be a challenge, including the CONNING. But I won't reveal the rest. That's for me to know and you to...not know.

Monday, July 19, 2010

barmecidal


\bahr-muh-SYE-dul\

adjective

: providing only the illusion of abundance

BARMECIDAL: the reason behind plastic fruit, the wonder bra, and anything made out of iron pyrites.

This is all I can muster on three hours of sleep. I will add more in the near future.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

agita


\AJ-uh-tuh\

noun

: a feeling of agitation or anxiety

Surprisingly, this word derives from the Italian acido and not the Latin verb agere, which inspires the English agitate. Agere means "to drive or urge" while acido means "acid or heartburn." Leave it to the Italians to emphasize the effects and not the cause of anxiety.

I woke up this morning with a bit of AGITA, not literally heartburn, but agitation. I'm inclined to say something like "the wrong side of the bed," as though that saying means anything. There's only one side from which to dismount my bed as it is, unless I did something weird like slid down to the bottom, but who does that. I didn't do that.

I just noticed that I was unusually irritated. I hated that the cats were meowing and that I knocked over the precarious container of serrated knives and chopsticks and that nobody but myself takes the initiative to refill the water jugs. I want to take the easy way out and blame hormones, but I usually think that's a cop out.

cop out : an idiom meaning to avoid taking responsibility for an action or to avoid fulfilling a duty

Maybe it was because I had a weird dream that I got arrested for confessing to having intentions to vandalize a Church. Not even actually doing it, just intending to. The cop threaded a fish hook connected to a chain through the roof of my mouth and hooked the other end into my inner thigh. They had a name for this binding in my dream, but I can't recall. I was trying to think of who could bail me out, and I had no idea. All I could think about was that on job applications I would now have to say I had a criminal record.

Cooked peppers. That's what causes me heartburn. Not in salsa, but in hot dishes and such. Too bad.

I need to turn my AGITA around, otherwise it's going to be a long day.


Saturday, July 17, 2010

burgle


\BER-gul\

verb

1 : to break into and steal from
2 : to commit burglary against

If someone were to BURGLE my home right now and take everything, here are the top ten items I would miss, in the order of how they occur to me (assuming all my personal effects [wallet, glasses, etc] are on my person]:

Tubby
a ratty blue briefcase full of old writing
my laptop
any original artwork by anyone
my AutoExpo tee shirt
some cute old miz mooz shoes that are irreplaceably comfortable
a necklace I made out of a shell someone dear gave to me
my address book
a jar of four years worth of guitar picks I collected off the floor while working at Guitar Center
a video tape of my eighth grade band concert

That was actually really, really hard. My method was visualizing my bedroom (I'm currently writing downstairs where the internet ACTUALLY WORKS) and my belongings, considering their worth and what would be lost in their absence: art, evidence, sentiment, connections. None of these items are worth any money, with the exception of my laptop, which is four years old and boasts a broken disc drive and a jenky wireless antenna.

So, what am I trying to say? Nothing new. My most valuable possessions are full of sentiment and not monetary worth, blah, blah, blah. Welcome to everyone who matters. The point is that my house is totally not worth BURGLING (Merriam reminds me this is the more British term to our American BURGLARIZING) and this makes my life one degree easier than those who fill their homes full of expensive and useless crap. It's just one less thing I need to worry about.

Famous last words?

Maybe.



Friday, July 16, 2010

bandbox


\BAND-bahks\

noun

1 : a usually cylindrical box of cardboard or thin wood for holding light articles of attire
2 : a structure (as a baseball park) having relatively small interior dimensions

The BANDBOX is one of those things with a practical beginning and a metaphorical future. It began as a container to hold ruffs—the excessively frilly, starchy, and grandiose collars snapped or tied around the necks of 16th and 17th century men and women. The BANDBOX was usually constructed out of flimsy plywood, and the word soon came to describe anything of flimsy construction. The term also went in another direction, to connote a place from which something fancy—like the ruff—emerged. Three hundred years later, the word is used mostly as an adjective to describe anything neat, tidy, or ordered.

I like the conflict among these definitions—specifically the flimsiness inherent in the construction of a place to house something of greater opulence. There's a certain humility about this, like a prince trapped inside a frog. I motion that the definition of BANDBOX move in this direction, emphasizing the irony of that juxtaposition.

Updated definition of BANDBOX : any receptacle or house far less extravagant than what it is intended to contain

Done and done. Rewriting the dictionary, one word at a time.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

ab initio


\ab-ih-NISH-ee-oh\

adverb

: from the beginning

It's amazing the difference a preposition makes. Here are the results of several google searches and a lack of inspiration:

FROM the beginning: Emerson, Lake, and Palmer, the construction of NASA's Orion spacecraft, and an animated primer on the basics of DNA.

IN the beginning: a fabric store in Seattle, creationism, and a TV film starring Martin Landau and Jacqueline Bisset.

AT the beginning: Richard Marx and Donna Lewis on the soundtrack of Disney's Anastasia, architecture at the turn of the 21st century, and myths about women from the Amazons to the Virgin Mary.

ON the beginning: Carl Sagan, the start of the English novel, and several prepositional misuses of "on" when "in" was really more appropriate.

OF the beginning: mostly a whole lot of "End of the Beginning" and "Beginning of the End."

*

When I think "from the beginning," I think "from the top," as in musical terms, although despite the influx of Latin in my school band experience I don't remember the term AB INITIO being thrown around. Merriam-Webster tells me the term is mostly used in legal contexts (i.e. things I would never read) and occasionally now as an adjective to suggest "starting from first principles." Think: initial.

Poor Latin. It's the basis of everything but now only makes cameos, like William Shatner selling airfare for priceline. A friend of mine in junior high school took a Latin course. She kept referring to it as a "dead language." If that was the case, I didn't understand why they still taught it, or what use it had for those who could speak it (outside the realm of S.A.T. preparation). Still, I was envious of her. I thought she was in on some secret form of communication that was beyond my fourteen-year-old intelligence.

The extent of my verbal Latin usage is probably et cetera and M.O., which doesn't even really count because it's an abbreviation. Maybe I should start integrating some more. I'll try to take AB INITIO outside of the blog today. Seriously.

Okay, I just said the word out loud to myself and it came out abnetio. A rough start—AB INITIO a rough terrain to my usage of AB INITIO—but I will recover.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

prolegomenon


\proh-lih-GAH-muh-nahn\

noun

: prefatory remarks; specifically : a formal essay or critical discussion serving to introduce and interpret an extended work

My first thoughts: So, why not just prologue?

Oh, well, because PROLEGOMENON cannot introduce just any work; the word specifically applies to introducing a work of scholarly analysis.

I see. This explains why its unnecessarily long and difficult to pronounce.

Yes. Exactly.

*

I really want this word to have something to do with LEGOs. Like, a composite of pro + LEGO + phenomenon. I would like to be a part of this phenomenon.

LEGOs were invented in the 1940s by Danish carpenter Ole Kirk Kristiansen. The term LEGO comes from the Danish phrase leg godt, which means play well. Ole Kirk took his LEGOs seriously; his motto was: kun det bedste er godt nok, or only the best is good enough, a sentiment still used within the company today.

LEGO still produces out of Billund, Denmark, under Kristiansen rule. The LEGO website tells me that, in sales, LEGO is the fifth largest manufacturer of toys. I don't know who are the better four.

I click on the Jobs link, thinking: this could be my future (I think this often about a variety of outcomes). LEGO prompts me to check out their values before researching a career with their group. In case you are wondering, this is what it takes to be a LEGO employee:

The LEGO® Brand values

Imagination:
Curiosity asks, ”Why?” and imagines explanations or possibilities (if.. then). Playfulness asks what if? and imagines how the ordinary becomes extraordinary, fantasy or fiction. Dreaming it is a first step towards doing it.

Free play is how children develop their imagination – the foundation for creativity

Creativity
Creativity is the ability to come up with ideas and things that are new, surprising and valuable.
Systematic creativity is a particular form of creativity that combines logic and reasoning with playfulness and imagination.

Fun
Fun is the happiness we experience when we are fully engaged in something that requires mastery (hard fun), when our abilities are in balance with the challenge at hand and we are making progress towards a goal. Fun is both in the process, and in the completion.

Fun is being active together, the thrill of an adventure, the joyful enthusiasm of children and the delight in surprising both yourself and others in what you can do or create.

Learning
Learning is about opportunities to experiment, improvise and discover – expanding our thinking and doing (hands-on, minds-on), helping us see and appreciate multiple perspectives.

Caring
Caring is about the desire to make a positive difference in the lives of children, for our partners, colleagues and the world we find ourselves in, and considering their perspective in everything we do.

Going the extra mile for other people, not because we have to – but because it feels right and because we care.

Caring is about humility – not thinking less of ourselves, but thinking of ourselves less.

Quality
From a reputation for manufacturing excellence to becoming trusted by all – we believe in quality that speaks for itself and earns us the recommendation of all.

For us quality means the challenge of continuous improvement to be the best toy, the best for children and their development and the best to our community and partners.
________________________________________________

Wow. I especially like the idea of "systematic creativity," logic + imagination. Lovely.

As far as I have found, there is yet to be a scholarly analysis of the LEGO in cultural history. THIS is where a PROLEGOMENON would be most appropriate. Literal + figurative + ironic. An instant classic.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

autochthonous


\aw-TAHK-thuh-nus\

adjective

1 : indigenous, native
2 : formed or originating in the place where found

A self of the earth. Sprung from the land one inhabits. Born and raised. Local. Indigenous. The breeding ground for pride, nationality, ethnicity.

When I was recently visiting the east coast, I spent one night at my friend Josh's place in a little town called North Attleboro in Massachusetts. I am no stranger to this place; it hovers in the outskirts of metro Providence where I lived for five years. For four of those five years I worked at a store in North Attleboro, but I spent hardly any time there and I barely ever made it off the main drag of retail shops exiled to the southern end of town.

The next morning while Josh was still asleep, I wandered down the road to the nearest Dunkin Donuts to have a cup of coffee. I sat in the pink and purple shop for an hour, watching people come in and get their breakfast. I guessed most of the people were locals, AUTOCHTHONOUS to North Attleboro; many greeted each other in line, inquiring about children and camp and plans for the fourth of July. I sat there by the window with a notebook, probably the only notebook that Dunkin Donuts has ever seen, writing about how jealous I was of this life, living and being who you are in the place where you came from, and how elitist I must be, sitting there taking notes on the indigenous peoples of southern Massachusetts. After living in cities for a decade—especially the second half of that decade in Portland, Land of Non-Natives—I have this incredible appreciation for the authenticity of self that must exist outside the production that is city life.

A word like AUTOCHTHONOUS seems pretty relevant in our increasingly globalized culture. I can make a fair guess that very few things solely exist in the place from which they came anymore. And there is an observed appreciation for the authenticity indicative of AUTOCHTHONOUSNESS—I imagine eating Linguine alla Marinara in Italy is an entirely different experience than it is here, just as native North Attleboroeans seem way more exciting to me in a Dunkin Donuts in North Attleboro than they would had I been observing them anywhere else.