Time Travel Artefact

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Found this inside my library book. I used to find it fascinating looking at the dates and seeing how often and at what intervals a book was checked out. This book, for example, is almost 20 years old and had periods of four and five years of sitting on a shelf, waiting. After 2002 we lose its story, thanks to electronic book tracking.

But I wonder: What do books do while waiting on shelves? Do they hope to get chosen, feel disappointed when the next book over gets taken? Do they have squabbles with neighboring books and hope for preserving?

Do books sleep, and what would they dream?

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Alone Together

Day’s Verse:
So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.
1 Corinthians 13:7 (but refer to the whole thing)

Hugging Ghost ShakersOne of the great things about this being my blog is that I can put up whatever I feel like. Today I want to explore some ideas raised by a book I’ve been reading. I don’t fully know what I think about this book — that is, I haven’t developed a strong stance one way or another on what the author talks about. But I’m going to talk through some thoughts and see where this goes.

The book is called Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other, by Sherry Turkle. Google the title and you’ll get all sorts of interesting articles and discussions. Here I’m going to present some quotes, in order of appearance, that stood out for me. Perhaps taken all together, they’ll give insight into what I think. Click below the fold for the quotes. There’s a huge gap in page numbering because, after the introduction, the first half of the book explores the interactions between people and social robots, which is thought-provoking, but not my main interest at the moment.

As I think about the collection of ideas I’ve accumulated here, several things stand out: the teenager’s comment that if you answer a phone call, you might have to get in a conversation; the idea of going to the Internet for “another hit of what feels like connection”; and the idea that “we go online because we are busy but end up spending more time with technology and less time with each other.” Another hit of connection. Hmm.

I think this is, by and large, true. Smartphones are great for coordinating meetups or asking your husband to bring milk home. Facebook is good for seeing a shallow skimming of your “friends'” lives. But I keep returning to the idea that people are meant for depth in relationship. The love that God holds for us and wants us to share with each other is based on relationship much deeper than text messages and Facebook statuses; it’s built, brick by brick, over time, as you spend time one-on-one with others. My sense is that we are lonely, longing for connection, and, turning to social networks, receive information instead.

Here’s what I’m doing about it. I’m calling people. I’m setting up times to meet in person, one-on-one, to just spend time together. I’m writing notes to friends, on paper, and mailing them. I’m going to ask people to check their phones at the door when they come to visit so that our time isn’t interrupted with constant distractions. I’m making an effort to reach out to people in everyday life: The mailman, the checkout person at Safeway, the receptionist at my PT office, the stranger who sits in my booth at the bakery (that story another time). I’m cutting back on Facebook time, although not cutting it out entirely, because it is good for some things. I don’t think technology is bad, and I love what it can do at times. I’m just going to try to put it in its place: Below the people in my life. No machine should be more important than a human being.

Continue reading “Alone Together”

Vocabulary Quiz

Day’s Verse:
[Love] Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.

1 Corinthians 13:7-ish

Lately I’ve been reading a six-book series called the Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, by Stephen R. Donaldson. The major characteristics of the books are the hopeless, miserable way the protagonist moves through the books — he’s really just moved around by other more lively, driven characters — and the author’s use of remarkably arcane vocabulary.

Now, I’d generally consider myself to have a pretty decent vocabulary. I did all the vocabulary quizzes in high school, read Atlantic Monthly, and generally enjoy words. Using exotic vocabulary rarely fazes me, and only infrequently do I encounter a book that contains more than a scattering of words I don’t recognize at all. The Thomas Covenant series, though, regularly uses words completely unfamiliar to me, as well as quite a few words I haven’t encountered since those long-ago vocabulary quizzes. Just for the heck of it (I had 4 hours to kill waiting for a ride from Trout Lake home — I’m still in the midst of them right now) I decided to document all the unusual vocabulary words I encountered in one chapter (Chapter 9 of book 6, White Gold Wielder, pages 193 to 219), a total of 26 pages. The following list includes the word; and my guess, from context, as to what it means; and the actual definition.

KEY:
Word – my best guess definition – definition from Merriam-Webster online
* = Word I already knew but rarely encounter.

  1. *Argent – silver
  2. Vermeil – red – gilded silver
  3. Demesne – kingdom, territory – estate, region, territory (others)
  4. Ambit – notice, zone, sway? – a sphere of action, expression, or influence: scope (others)
  5. *Virulent – contagious sickness, spreading – extremely poisonous or venomous, malignant (others)
  6. *Preternatural – unnatural, over-natural? – existing outside of nature (others)
  7. *Effaced – hidden from view – to cause to vanish (others)
  8. Periapts – objects of power – amulet
  9. Auge – disease, weakness – definition not available free on Merriam-Webster! d’oh!
  10. *Carillon – bell – a set of fixed chromatically tuned bells sounded by hammers controlled from a keyboard
  11. Geas – magical compulsion – not listed in Merriam-Webster online at all!
  12. *Rectitude – uprightness – moral integrity : righteousness
  13. Percipience – perception, sight, vision – perception
  14. Argute – acute, tense – definition not available free on Merriam-Webster! d’oh!
  15. *Verdant – lush – green with growing plants
  16. Roborant – medicinal drink – definition not available free on Merriam-Webster! d’oh!
  17. Immedicable – untreatable – incurable
  18. *Caterwaul – crying, wailing – to make a harsh cry
  19. Bourne – home – boundary, limit (others)
  20. *Eldrich – magical – weird, eerie
  21. *Tarn – lake – a small steep-banked mountain lake or pool
  22. Oriel – window, opening – a large bay window projecting from a wall and supported by a corbel or bracket
  23. Coign – window, opening – definition not available free on Merriam-Webster! d’oh!
  24. Malefic – malicious, evil – having malignant influence : baleful; malicious
  25. Suasion – persuasion, argument – the act of influencing or persuading
  26. *Prescient – presaging – foreknowledge of events
  27. Puissance – power – strength, power
  28. Donjon – castle – a massive inner tower in a medieval castle
  29. *Cairn– memorial marker – a heap of stones piled up as a memorial or as a landmark
  30. *Embrasure – window, opening – an opening with sides flaring outward in a wall or parapet of a fortification usually for allowing the firing of cannon (other)
  31. Inanition – ??? – the quality or state of being empty: (a) : the exhausted condition that results from lack of food and water (b) : the absence or loss of social, moral, or intellectual vitality or vigor (reference)
  32. *Vertiginous – inducing vertigo – causing or tending to cause dizziness (others)
  33. Chausuble – hood – a sleeveless outer vestment worn by the officiating priest at mass
  34. *Crozier – staff of office (for a bishop) – a staff resembling a shepherd’s crook carried by bishops and abbots as a symbol of office
  35. *Exigency – need of the moment – : that which is required in a particular situation —usually used in plural (others)
  36. Mendacity – ??? – 1 : the quality or state of being mendacious (really helpful definition); 2 : lie
  37. Countervailing – countermand, opposite order – to exert force against an opposing and often bad or harmful force or influence (others)
  38. Reft – bereft – to deprive one of; seize (more)
  39. Falchion – huge sword – a broad-bladed slightly curved sword of medieval times
  40. Deflagration – fire, bursting into flames – to burn rapidly with intense heat and sparks being given off (more)

(Side note: how many of these did you know? Can you fill in any of the undefined ones for me? Please??)

Now, I’m all in favor of “the right word for the right use,” and I love learning new words. Frankly, though, most of these word choices strike me as gratuitous use of a thesaurus, rather than using the right word in the right situation. For instance, why say “suasion” rather than “persuasion”? Or “percipience” instead of “perception”? Or “puissance” for “power”? Or, for heaven’s sake, “immedicable” rather than “incurable”?

OK, so if the author wants to use a cool vocabulary word now and then, that’s fine. But he used “embrasure” 3 times in one paragraph. He used 40 jump-out-at-you, grab-a-dictionary words in 26 pages. “Puissance” has appeared often enough that I’m ready to vomit at the sight of it. Most of his unusual vocabulary choices come from 14th Century origins and haven’t enjoyed common usage for centuries. At this point, my enjoyment of learning new words has transmogrified (take that, Stephen R. Donaldson! You’re not the only one who can toss around unnecessarily big, arcane words!) into disgust. I respect Donaldson’s vocabulary choices about as much as I respect Clive Cussler’s multiple uses of “Machiavellian” in one book.