Saturday, July 3, 2010




1 : mammoth
2 : having superhuman strength

This word came after Antaeus—son of Gaea and Poseidon who got his god-like strength from physical contact with his mother: the earth. Hercules eventually defeated Antaeus by simply holding him off the ground away from his power source.

I'm a bit surprised ANTAEAN defines something as simple as size + strength as opposed to a more specific concept. It's fair to say most mythological gods were sizable and strong. ANTAEAN might make more sense if it meant: obtaining strength from the earth or; having a great but fleeting strength or; the act of taking a power source for granted. I mean, I could define a tree as ANAEAN, but this idea doesn't embody the deeper significance of having a weak point.

I think the point of a concept like ANTAEAN is a reminder that everyone can and will be hit below the belt. But maybe this idea has already been assumed by Achilles. Perhaps ANTAEAN should rather define one who only wants to be remembered by his conquests rather than his defeat. This makes it even more curious that a word like mammoth appears in the definition, which undeniably carries with it the most divine defeat: extinction.

In New Haven's Peabody Museum of Natural History, there is both a skeleton
and a recreated model
of the Woolly Mammoth. The two stand next to each other behind a thick sheet of glass—stoic, huge, frozen, but also humble in their quest to be remembered. This is the essence of ANTAEAN; the earth found the weak point of a species, the huge creatures are long defeated, but they cannot cease to impress with even the shadow of their immensity.

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