Friday, July 2, 2010




: lack of knowledge or awareness : ignorance

There's a kink in the system this morning; Merriam-Webster has fouled. In today's email the definition is listed twice—once as itself and once as the example sentence. The example sentence is pushed into the "Did You Know" etymology section, and the etymology is M.I.A.; my morning, and the mornings of fellow readers, is askew.

Now, I don't actually know if the Word-of-the-Day emails are posted via human hands, or if the information is entered by a person and handed off to the ghost in the machine, which processes and posts said message. If it was in fact the machine that flubbed, I want to attach meaning to its mistake, because, well, there's nothing like shoving meaning where it doesn't belong at 8:15 in the morning, or really any time of day.

Recently (as within the past couple years or so) I was checking my email and when I proceeded to sign out of my account the "sign out" link mysteriously read as mal: bad, evil, sick, in many languages. I paused and stared at the word for a moment, in a bit of disbelief and a whole lot of foreboding. I thought this was a sign of some sort, and at my age I've mostly given up reading anything as a sign because almost everything can be interpreted as such and this way of thinking clogs my brain from focusing on anything other than the meaning of my own life. But the mal incident begged to be read as a sign. And although I tried to stop myself, although I tried to contain that thought as though it were water shooting out of a busted pipe under the sink, the phrase plastered my frontal lobe like a casino billboard: What does this MEAN?

I thought for a moment about not signing out. If mal in fact was a bad omen, I would be a fool to click the link. But that paranoia lasted only a moment and I signed out as normal. And nothing bad happened. But I suppose that's only my perception. If I were a person more sensitive to signs and omens and such, I could perceive everything bad that has happened in my life since that moment as a direct result of my NESCIENCE to the significance of the mal.

What concerns me more is not why but how? How did mal just appear in my email? Was it just a glitch in the matrix? That's more curious than placing the responsibility in the hands of some bored hacker fucking with Hotmail accounts. I realize this exploration of how totally contradicts my above statement about attaching meaning to the obsolete. Well, I have no excuse for this change in discourse. Apparently my Saturn is in return, or I'm in my return of Saturn, or some sort of astrological phenomenon is happening (according to my friend Liz) that causes me to be particularly confused. This is a relief of sorts, being able to place the blame on the positioning of the stars. Lightens my existential load a bit.

So. Merriam-Webster fucked up. What does it mean? It means I don't know the etymology of NESCIENCE. It means I have to take an extra step to seek out this information (NESCIENCE = nescientia = not + science or knowledge). It means I sit at this computer wondering absently who/why/how this mistake occurred. It means I then begin to wonder why I waste my time wondering such things. It means I will blame this over-analyzation on Saturn and then wonder some more about why I'm passing the blame, why there needs to be any blame in the first place, why the fuck I care, and why I'm still writing this paragraph.

Wake up and smell the NESCIENCE, blooming like fragrant flowers in the summer of my years.

1 comment:

  1. Same exact mal thing happened to me last summer.