Friday, February 27, 2009

Abject through Zeitgeist

Just in case there are any serene, unruffle-able people out there who have no idea what last week's experience of fury/pounding the pavement feels like, here is something I guarantee will at least make your pulse quicken... cuz it sure makes MY blood boil! :) So, I spend lots of hours each week reading scholarly articles: art reviews, biographies, art theory, museum theory, political arguments, but mostly art reviews. Sooooo many smart people delivering their well-crafted, fanciful-sounding opinions. When I'm in a good mood (and when they're my style of writer), I enjoy their words, and credit this fraction of my week to "Improving My Education." Sometimes, though, when I'm in a bad mood or they are just outrageous writers, I get a little angry. And sometimes, I'm pretty sure I am just reading pages and pages whose main purpose in life is to ooze the subliminal statement, "BEHOLD! I AM SMARTER THAN YOU."

A particular way this happens is through vocabulary. Now, I consider myself an intelligent girl, maybe even above average intelligence. But I've already been humbled once this year by the GRE's staggering amount of multisyllabic words and mathematical trickery (for all those that wanted to know, my score was not what I hoped for, but it'll have to do. Man was that a bum way to spend Valentine's Day. But at least it was memorable! ) No, but it's very irritating to have to stop at least three times an article and hit up dictionary.com in order to understand a sentence and keep mental track of the author's intent.

On my work computer is a little secret notepad document of all the words I have to look up. The following is that list... and it's only three weeks old. This is the language of the world I work in- tell me you don't feel slightly belittled and maybe even a tad angry after reading this list. (And for all you wordy people out there that recognize a large percentage of these words, please pat yourself on the back and skip ahead. And any SANE person who knows NONE of these words, tell me about it. I'll send you a prize. You and me both, man.) PS The ones with definitions are the ones I saw more than once and had forgotten the first time. PPS After three weeks of fury, I've decided that the most fun to get out of these words, besides using them later to impress people, is trying to pronounce them. "Jalousied" feels like kissing but without another person... Ahem...

Abject
Ad hoc
Afflatus: an impelling mental force acting from within
Ambiguity
Anxiety of influence- poets having to deal with predecessors
Apotropaic- intended to ward off evil
Belligerent- war-like, bellicose, hostile

Bricolage- construction made of whatever diverse materials are at hand
Chthonian
Concatenation- connection, as through a chain
Consignment- Profit model for mainstream art dealers
Cupidity- greed, avarice, excessive desire
Deadpan- expressing no emotion while delivering humor
Demur- Make an objection
Desublimation
Dextrous
Distill
Egalitarian
Elegiac
Fete (verb)- to entertain at or honor with a party
Fey- fated to die, unnaturally high spirits (as before death), whimsical, otherworldly
Gestalt- a unified whole
Intransigent

Jalousied
Labile- apt or likely to change
Masochist
Memento mori- object kept to remind one of death, i.e. a skull


NOPE KEEP GOING.... That's right. ALL of these I came across in my everyday readings...

Metonymic
Miscegenation
Mooncalf
Mordant- caustic, sarcastic, corrosive, dyeing
Parse

Pejorative
Penumbra- shadowy, marginal area
Plumb (verb)
Pneumatic (adj.)
Populist
Posit
Reticence
Sadist- gratification through causing pain to others- compare to masochist (pain to self)
Self-Purgation
Solipsism- the theory that only the self exists, egoistic self-absorption
Topos
Torsade- an ornamental twist, as of velvet
Trope
In train
Vertiginous
Verve
Visceral
Work over
Zeitgeist


There are 51 of them at this time. 13 of them are highlighted as spelling errors by the spell-checker. My favorite is Chthonian (it means pertaining to the spirits under the earth.) I've decided that I might be able to give the intellectuals a tiny break; after all, their livelihoods-- and probably a few of their identities as human beings-- hinge on their ability to describe art and life better than anyone else in the business. Naturally, they are highly proficient verbal acrobats.

Enough vocab. I have had probably the busiest week and a half of my life these past 10 days, and I STILL haven't gotten a chance to recoup the lost hours of sleep. But I'm at work now and have no time to do my adventures their full justice. You'll have to check back later on in the week, but I promise I'll write them. Otherwise my mom's head might explode :) These adventures include the opening of the Bourgeois exhibit, with one or two major surprises attached, a blast from the BYU past, a little vignette of the American democratic system.... through the eyes of a blind citizen, and plenty of other delightful encounters with this crazy city and its bizarre, unpredictable populace. I'll be back.

4 comments:

Summer Lewis said...

Again, I love your blog. I ran into Spencer not but an hour ago and we both agreed that reading it is a refreshing course in intellectualism that is enjoyable. We know you aren't trying to show off. You're just that cool...you must be a Brown. At any rate, I'm glad that I recognized at least half of the words, though I've never really had occassion to use any of them. But I really need to find a place to squeeze in Chthonian...

Jayci said...

Chthonian is a crazy word. Frustrating and interesting to look up what these words mean. I wish there were such a thing as a reverse dictionary; where you have a meaning and you want a word to use instead of the whole phrase (whatever it is). Like Summer I was happy to recognize a few. But I'm no verbal acrobat and can never find places to use them.. :)

I'm excited to hear all about your week's adventures and surprises.

MOM said...

I'm used to not having a great vocabulary, so no... I didn't feel belittled or angry. I was actually giddy that I knew several of the words. Of course, once I realized "hand" and "whimsical" weren't two of the words, but actually part of a definition, I had to throw those out. Dang it. And so, I can conclude that Summer is smarter than me, and "BEHOLD! YOU ARE SMARTER THAN ME!"

I'll just be patient and wait for more fun stories and art work. :)

Eric said...

Why the pejoritive penubra and mordant parsing of my ad hoc afflatus? Your concatenation of the ambiguity of my anxiety of influence is belligerent. I demur with egalitarian cupidity your chthonian intransigent miscegenation! You artists and art historians dextros distilling of jolosied masochistic sadist torsades intrain those of us who have pneunatic reticence. The solipsim that some fete with desublimiation smacks of a visceral populist zeitgeist. I have only one word for people like you, mooncalf!

All my love, Ld