Monthly Archives: February 2013

Procrastination: Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow

procrastination (n.) 1540s, from Latin procrastinationem “a putting off,” noun of action from pp. stem of procrastinare “put off till tomorrow,” from pro- “forward” (see pro-) + crastinus “belonging to tomorrow,” from cras “tomorrow,” of unknown origin. How could such an important word be of ‘unknown origin’? what humanistic forces were afoot … Continue reading

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Do you believe in Magic?

There is no mystery about the origin of the word ‘magic’ – late 14c., from Old French magique, from Latin magicus “magic, magical,” from Greek magikos, from magike (see magic (n.) The permutations of magic, however, clearly articulate the sensibilities of the periods in which they arose. The expression … Continue reading

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Calle delle Botteghe

Venice does not have streets – it has ‘calle’, long corridors that extend like silk filaments, joining the squares (not called ‘piazze’ but ‘campi’) – this network superimposed on the veiny canals – warp and weft, tensile strength disguised as … Continue reading

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Venetian Vaporetti

The closest I get to being nautical is visiting Venice – I used to teach here, on and off, and now come back about once a year (although last year I was here three times, rather a record – lots … Continue reading

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Saratogas and Jenny Linds

As I’m about to leave for a week in Venice, I started thinking about a more graceful age of travel in which a lady gallivanted accompanied by a steamer trunk, a lovely travelling wardrobe box that held all of one’s … Continue reading

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A Kiss is Just a Kiss?

Who knew that osculation was another word for kissing?  evidently in the late Baroque one didn’t kiss, one osculated.  Sounds kind of sexy.  And evidently the science of kissing (who knew it was a science? one would suppose it to … Continue reading

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The Complexities of Winsomeness

winsome (adj.) Old English wynsum “agreeable, pleasant,” from wynn “pleasure, delight” (cf. German Wonne “joy, delight;” see win) + -sum “-some.” Apparently surviving only in northern English dialect for 400 years until revived 18c. by Hamilton, Burns, and other Scot. poets. I love the thought of ‘winsome’ and ‘winsomeness’, both … Continue reading

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