Latinus shatimus

Friday 18 April 2008

I was transcribing an interview in Capitalist Hell yesterday, an interview with a doctor. I don't know why he was there. Some kind of malpractice charge or something.

Anyway, in the process of the interview he mentioned the word sputum. And I thought, that word makes me want to hurl. It is so graphic, so descriptive of gooberly saliva. Oh, yuk.

Latin words. They are good at describing clinical conditions, but when it comes to describing body parts - well, it's all a bit cold and medical, isn't it? Latin words remind me of shiny metal tables in morgues. Of bodies that are dead, their spirits departed. Not bodies that live and move and have being. Except for one word. It really is such a good description of the body part it describes. And that word, my dear friends, is scrotum.

Such an unattractive word. Such an unattractive body part. So. Words that sound how they should. Do you have any favourites? Another one of mine is blathering. I love that word. It reminds me of like giant soap suds coming out of your mouth and floating all over the room, filling it up with pointless but harmless bubbles of nothing.

And curmudgeonly. For some reason, I always think of Chesterton when I think of that word, and a book of poetry of his I have where he is sitting on the front, all portly and ... well, looking kinda curmudgeonly (although he was much more than that).

And solitude. When I think of that word I think of physical and psychological space, peace and gentleness. The very opposite of loneliness. I think of giant big rocks tethered to the ground, of wet soil after the rain. I love solitude.

And I really love the phrase, My football team is sitting on top of the ladder and hey, guess what? The team who won the flag last year is a team that we have a bit of a psychological advantage over. So woo hoo for Empire sports to get me through the Winter. But then, that's not a phrase, is it? That's a delightful bunch of sentences to curl my toes.

Speaking of Winter, I found myself anticipating it a bit yesterday. Because as much as I hate the lightlack (hey, I just invented a word!), I do love the cosiness, the warmth of being inside, the charm of Winter. There are charms, definitely. Like soup and ugg boots and blankets and hot chocolate and crisp blue skies. All the seasons have their place.

Unlike the majority of Latin words except scrotum (don't mind me, I'm just indulging myself in the utterly childish enjoyment of writing the word scrotum on my blog. There it is again. Scrotum). Hehe.

No wonder Latin is dead. The only time it comes alive is in describing unattractive body practices or parts. Latin's got no soul :) Try singing the blues in Latin. Doesn't work, does it?


  1. supercalafragilisticexpialadocious!

  2. My suspicions have been confirmed: you only blog for the shock value.

  3. Kel - you like that word even though the sound of it is something quite atrocious? :)

    Erin - yes, and for the attention

  4. Well, you got mine. Attention, that is - what were you thinking of?

    I suppose that in retaliation I ought to post the Latin names of some female bits or other on my own blog - only I have to admit they sound quite pleasant in comparison. Oh, well...

  5. What was I thinking of?

    Well, I don't rightly know.

    Go ahead and do a Latin female bits blog post. I dare you. I also dare you to include an appropriately fitting Richard Rohr quote in there too :)

  6. Well, I suppose I asked for that dare ;-)

    As you'll know since you've read my post The Only Way..., I have a history of being all too sensitive to cultural imperatives. That includes dares.

    You'll also have noticed that I'm trying to give them up. Cultural imperatives, that is. So no. And I can't think of an appropriate quote to go with said Latin bits either.




  7. I don't blame you for knocking back that dare. It was quite ridiculous, really :)

  8. Thank you! My own silly fault for falling for your "shock value" as Erin calls it ;-)

  9. Latin chant (Taize variety or Gregorian) can be very peaceful. I can't play it while I am driving or I will fall asleep!
    Latin is nothing on German for gross words for body parts. Nipple, for example, translates as "breast wart", Brustwarze. Scrotum is Hodensack or testicle sack. Very blunt language.

  10. One of the things I quite shamelessly love about the blogosphere is that a follower of St. Francis from Dorset can meet a Canadian lover of Eckhart, in the midst of a discussion on Latin grossness, on the blog of an Aussie contemplative.

    Rock on!

    Very good to meet you, Barbara, by the way - I'm really looking forward to reading your posts on Meister E...

  11. You make a good point, there, mikef.
    How did you learn about me and Eckhart? I am no expert on the subject -- I know more about German body parts, actually. Eckhart is a head trip to me.
    And nice to meet you, too!

  12. Barbara - I didn't even think of Gregorian chant. Yes, you're right, it is peaceful. But it would sound even better if it was in some other language. I think what I like about Gregorian chant is that I dont understand what they're saying, and I get to just listen to it the way a baby does to a lullaby, and keep my intellect out of it. But how much better it would be in French :)

    French Gregorian chant music. I'd buy that album :)

    Mike - rock on indeed! The wonders of the blogosphere

  13. Sue - I do understand (a bit of) Latin, but I never really listen to the words of Gregorian chant. I'm not sure you're meant to, unless you're singing it, in which case you'd have learnt it &/or have the words, and that funny notation on the 4-line staff, in front of you.

    Barbara - I glanced at your blog (following your profile link) and there was Eckhart - I think the first post I read was "Nothingness with a View".

    I first ran across Eckhart in my teens, when I started reading a bit about transcendental philosophy - Immanuel Kant, whom I found intoxicating and incomprehensible in equal measure, got me started on him - and I'm not sure, but I think some of the seeds sown there, especially his idea of "no-thing", had a lot to do with my eventually stopping running from the Hound of Heaven! So naturally, my ears prick up as soon as I encounter his name...

  14. Must get me some Eckhart. He sounds like a drug-free trip and a half :)

    The Hound of Heaven. I so love that name.

  15. Interesting you referring to Eckhart as a "drug-free trip", Sue. That reminds me that when I was exploring trips of the other variety back in the day, I came across ideas in people like Huxley (The Doors of Perception), Watts (The Joyous Cosmology) and Ralph Metzner (writing in The Psychedelic Review) that reminded me strongly of Eckhart.

    The "no-thing" thing (!) kept coming back, in what I read (and here I include Hesse) and in actual experience. I attempted, with the help of a close friend, to construct a kind of noetic map of this new cosmology, and "no-thing" was central to this.

    It turned out to be a blind alley (albeit full of visions!) eventually, and for a while I tried not to think about this kind of stuff, until I began reading DT Suzuki's Mysticism: Christian and Buddhist: The Eastern and Western Way which is revealingly subtitled "A study of the qualities Meister Eckhart shares with Zen and Shin Buddhism".


    That path led me directly to looking into what this Christian stuff was really all about, via people like TS Eliot, Charles Williams et al., and of course I walked slap into the living God. Oops! Gloria in excelsis Deo!

  16. That hound of heaven. Loves showing up in unexpected places. "Hello! I'm here, too!" He must get such a damn buzz out of that. I expect that he will show up into all the unexpected places humans have contrived and rescue all the people who are lost. Because that would be the most unviolently redemptive thing I could think of.

    Hitler saved? Who knows how long it would take? Eons. Lots of hellish experiences first? I don't know. But yeah, one day, I reckon so. One day.

    But that's just me. And I could possibly be mad :)

  17. "In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost..." (Matthew 18.14)

    I don't believe he is willing that any of us should be lost. But what if one of us decides adamantly to refuse him? That's what gets me...

    But Amen to the Hound showing up when least expected... his favourite!

  18. Well, yes, I wonder about that too. Sometimes I wonder if, at a certain point in time aeons future, when it is a case of a loving God wilfully taking hold of those kids of his who refuse to repent and furnacing them ... but not forever, surely, and not as punishment but only to burn off that which needs burning.

    How could any who came through the furnace, whether the short way or the long way around, and been purified and able to see God, be able to refuse him?

    But we shall see, dear Mike of Wool, we shall see :)

  19. One day we shall, Sue... Actually that's an astonishing thought. One day we actually shall know the answers to all of this stuff - though what kind of knowing (compared to what we have now) I don't know...


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