Monthly Archives: December 2012

Lightning Rods and Apotropaic Magic

I was thinking of Walter de Maria’s Lightning Field (http://www.diaart.org/sites/main/lightningfield), simply because it’s beautiful and strange, and then started to think in more general terms about the function of the lightning rod as an apotropaic  object – meant to conduct lighting … Continue reading

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ASTONISHING

astonish (v.) c.1300, astonien, from Old French estoner “to stun, daze, deafen, astound,” from Vulgar Latin *extonare, from Latin ex- “out” + tonare “to thunder” (see thunder); so, lit. “to leave someone thunderstruck.” The modern form (influenced by English verbs in -ish, e.g. distinguish, diminish) is attested from c.1530. (from the online … Continue reading

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Legerdemain

Prestidigitation – sleight of hand (from the French for ready-fingered-ness – From the Latin prestigiae – juggler’s tricks).  A plethora of syllables signifying quickness of movement which, ideally, passes largely unseen.  Hardly ever used, except self-consciously by people seeking poetry … Continue reading

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Yale Blackboard, paper-making studio, July 2012

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Matthew Arnold’s poem for Shakespeare

Shakespeare BY MATTHEW ARNOLD Others abide our question. Thou art free. We ask and ask—Thou smilest and art still, Out-topping knowledge. For the loftiest hill, Who to the stars uncrowns his majesty, Planting his steadfast footsteps in the sea, Making the … Continue reading

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Cacophony

Today’s word is cacophony – a harsh, discordant array of sounds.  Dissonance.  From the Greek ‘kako’, meaning bad or evil, and ‘phone’, meaning voice.  Therefore ‘babel’, as in a Babel of voices. The implication is, of course, a lack of … Continue reading

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Incandescent

Today’s word is incandescent – as in luminous, shining, brilliant – and as an adjective – not merely as a signifier of a heated filament.  It’s such a beautiful word –  intelligence can be incandescent – Virginia Woolf said that … Continue reading

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