No wonder then, that like that slippery customer Mercury, it's always one step ahead of us.
"answer (n) O.E. andswaru "a reply," from and- "against" ... + -swaru "affirmation," from swerian "to swear"... suggesting an original sense of "make a sworn statement rebutting a charge."
Quite a big hop, skip & mercurial jump then from the "solution to a problem" or "clever &/or correct reply" that we are accustomed to expecting, n'est-ce pas?
My hope in both researching & writing is to find or create new ways to look at things. Over the course of the last few years I have found that 'answers' seem to come with cement boots. They weigh me down & prevent me from striding irreligiously through the thoroughly cultivated lands of the modern world, turning over whatever rock takes my fancy.
During research for an article on hanging a few months ago I re-membered knot magic - an ages old practise that is now mostly forgotten. That in turn led me to contemplate this world in a much more material sense.
..................six hours (& many miles) later..................
Got stuck. Had lots of info & didn't know which path to travel. Went for a drive. Ended up here. Never been here before...
...This is Huia Point Lookout & we're gazing out over Manukau (man-noo-cow) Harbour to the Manukau Heads, where the Tasman Sea flows into the second largest harbour in NZ.
The beaches on that part of NZ's West Coast have black sand & hardy surfers.
I stopped for a coffee with a friend on the way home. My head was in the writing zone & not the best for chit chat. But we got talking about a subject that my son brought up this morning & thus one coffee & one decent sized bush walk later, I had found my way, article-wise, again.
Our talk centred around the idea that we are living out of touch (& reach), in a material world.
Well this just won't do! Please note, I do not advocate alcohol for cats under the age of 18.
We can live 'out of touch' in a spiritual world, because it has no apparent substance, but while we're in this place we are designed to feel & get to grips with what's here.
Let's get etymological about it;
"feel (v.) O.E. felan "to touch"." Say no more!
Back in the 1950's neurosurgeon Wilder Penfield developed some telling maps maps of the brain which have been translated into 3 dimensional images. They indicate "the relatively large proportion of the brain involved in sensitive and complex movement, particularly ... the face and hands"
The hands & the mouth - the biggest ways we touch our world
How babies read their new world - 'hand (& in this case, foot) to mouth'
"The Hand by Frank R. Wilson, is a book about the influence of the human hand on the evolution of our species... how the evolution and use of the hands has shaped “the brain, language and human culture” ... The fact is, the hands prompted the mind."
If you believe in passion then don't skip the next paragraph.
"When personal desire prompts anyone to learn to do something well with the hands, an extremely complicated process is initiated that endows the work with a powerful emotional charge. People are changed, significantly and irreversibly, it seems, when movement, thought and feeling fuse during the active, long-term pursuit of personal goals. Serious musicians are emotional about their work not simply because they are committed to it, nor because their work demands the public expression of emotion. The musicians’ concern for their hands is a by-product of the intense striving through which they turn them into the essential physical instrument for realization of their own ideas, or the communication of closely held feelings. The same is true of sculptors, wood-carvers, jewellers, jugglers, and surgeons when they are fully immersed in their work.... The word “passion” describes attachments that are this strong... I would argue that any theory of human intelligence which ignores the interdependence of hand and brain function... is grossly misleading and sterile" (from The Hand by Frank R. Wilson, pp.5-9)
I believe that in order to live, as opposed to the current trend of existence, our hands need access to ... well everything we can lay our hands on. In so many ways our hands are our connection to this world, just as the roots of a tree are it's connection to the earth.
Now we are going to stitch together some ideas as to why touch is so important & why we are so much out of touch. We are going to weave together some seriously playful feelings & un-sigh-entific ideas that suggest we really do live in a material world...
..a spun, woven, knitted & embroidered, material world.
"Myths of weaving exist around the world as metaphors for creation. The spindle is often an axis mundi and its whirling whorls serve a cosmogonic function. Plato, for example, had a vision of the great goddess Ananke, "Necessity," spinning the universe; the sun, moon, and planets were her spindle's whorls; sirens sang through the webs of time and fate that she wove, and souls endlessly moved through the strands on their way to and from death and rebirth. Many goddesses are spinners and weavers: the Fates of ancient Greece; Athena, also of Greece; Neith of ancient Egypt; in Teutonic myth the Norns spin secret meanings into life; in the American southwest, Grandmother Spider Woman spins all life from the shimmering threads in her belly."
Before any of us ever existed and before anything was ever created, only the Sun Spirit, ... was here. He created a proto-type earth, and from it, he created ... Spider Woman ...[who] continued the creation. She spun her spider silk from North to South, then to East and West, and this is what drew the earth into being. She sang as she spun, and from her beautiful singing, her two daughters came into being. These daughters helped their mother by creating the moon from dark black rock, yellow stone, red rock and turquoise. They saw that it was not quite light enough at night, so they created the Star People with sparkling eyes so that night would never be black again...
...Spider Woman went to work creating people, and she did this by molding the red, yellow, white and black clay of the earth. For every person she made, she spun a fine line of spider silk that she attached to their heads, so that they would always be connected to her and have access to her wisdom and teachings. As long as they kept the doorway from the top of their heads to let in the spider silk, they would always be protected by her. She sang the Creation song over the newly formed people, and they came to life by hearing her beautiful voice. The people began to call her Spider Grandmother, since she gave them life
Just pretty (or pretty fanciful) tales?
Why then is our language so thoroughly interlaced with material words? Why are we tied up (& down)? Why do we spin tales & yarns? We get stitched up. Things loom over us. We cotton on to things (except when we know knot what we do). Evidence in the never ending supply of crime shows is immaterial or a tissue of lies. Boring things are run of the mill. We judge people by the cut of their cloth. We are a part of the fabric of society, which is neatly folded into that other fabric, the time space continuum. We are daily entangled in a web (O.E. webb "woven fabric,") of worldwide proportions.
Meanwhile the ubiquitous uniform of the Western World, soundly echoes the very threads of our cell'ad dressing.
'jeanetic materials anyone?'
I'm no scientist, as you might have observed, though I did just take a little trek into the quantum world of string theory. And beat a hasty retreat back out again. Just can't get a grip on them big words.
Matter however, is a different matter. If we sneak in through the back door of our material world & climb the spirally staircase for a wordly overview, something interesting happens.
"material - Etymologically, material is simply a derivative of matter"
My much prized word origin dictionary tells me that the wor(l)d matter comes from the Latin materia & was originally applied to the "hard inner wood of a tree,' and etymologically denoted the matrix or mother from which the new growth came (it was derivative of Latin mater 'mother').
So this gives us an interesting line-up.
Material - matter - mother - the building blocks of the universe?
I find it rather interesting that acquired name of THE Material Girl echoes one of the most revered mamas of all time
Madonna & Child, a favourite subject for Renaissance artists.
La nouveau Madonna has put a modern twist on this age old scenario with a junior amour named Jesus. I don't follow the gossip columns so this was a new one on me. While much is made of the age difference between the dynamic duo, there seems to be a rather glaring omission of the incredibly 'coincidental' name twinning, especially bearing in mind that the baby Jesus' surname is Luz, which translates to 'Light'. I may be imagining this, but I'm sure I've heard of another who went by the name Jesus & was the light of the world.
Ok back to us - you & me. Look closely now & you just might see that we(a)'ve been woven together.
Weave got strands of DNA, spinal cords, grey matter, skin tissue (c.1366, "band or belt of rich material"), ligaments (c.1400, from L. ligamentum "band, tie, ligature," from ligare "to bind, tie,"). Broken bones are said to knit back together. The etymology of Mitosis, the splitting of one cell into two, is "coined from Gk. mitos "warp thread"... So called because chromatin of the cell nucleus appears as long threads in the first stages." Mitochondria, the powerhouses of the cell get their naming from "Gk. mitos "thread" + khondrion "little granule."
Here is a wonderful work of art. An anatomically correct knitted presentation of our brain - can you feel the connection?
What one being has stitched together let no scientist pull asunder
It's now time to get a little crafty & weave together & strange set of threads that suggest even further our woven nature.
I am of a rather sleuthy nature & enjoy muchly following where clues dare to thread - (clue - phonetic variant of clew (q.v.) "a ball of thread or yarn," with reference to the one Theseus used as a guide out of the Labyrinth).
I got to wondering about the spinning & weaving nature of the world. Could the sowing of seeds be likened to the sewing of stitches, embroidering the earth with plants. If we shake up the spelling of thread we find earth'd.
Sowing seed has been used as a describing of the male part of the sex act. And indeed, etymology fits hand in glove with this picturing.
"sperm late 14c., probably from O.Fr. esperme, from L.L. sperma "seed, semen," from Gk. sperma "seed," from speirein "to sow, scatter"
"sow (v) O.E. sawan "to scatter seed upon the ground or plant it in the earth"."
Now this is where etymology & me part company for a moment - for it says that sow & sew are not related. Now I'm a questing human & I reckon that it's jolly interesting that these two words ring out the same tone. I felt the inclination to lift up both these rocks & see what lurked beneath.
So returning to etymology we find the origin of the word 'sew' is "O.E. siwian "to stitch"." Ok, cool & groovy, lets look up stitch.
You see I can't help noticing an amazing similarity between look & action of the penis during sex & the movements & action of a needle on a sewing machine. Both needles have an eye through which something binding is passed - thread? (O.E. þræd "fine cord, especially when twisted" (related to þrawan "to twist") - think DNA spirals. The jeanetic material of the sperm (warp?) may reach an egg (weft) & the process of weaving a new individual may begin.
Ancient knowledge is always worth a second look. "The word tantra comes from two words, tanoti, which means expansion, and trayati, which means liberation. It also means to stretch or to weave" & "tantra type of Hindu religious book, 1799, from Skt. tantram, lit. "loom, warp".
Loom is a funny word because if you upside down & back to front it, it transforms into the substance that is it's raison d'etre - wool. Is there but one universal substance from which we have all been woven. Are we all part of one great ball of yarn? Is this why our world 'spins'?
That needle trek also called to mind the copious obelisks that presently peirce so many city skylines. obelisk - "rectangular stone column, tapering at the top," 1569 ..." from Gk. obeliskos, dim. of obelos "a spit, pointed pillar, needle."
There seems to be a general internetly consensus that the "Obelisk is an ancient phallic symbol of the male energy and solar energy. Obelisks were originally erected in honor of the sun god."
In keeping with the probing of this latest materialistic angle, my memory pointed me to two of these piercing structures - Cleopatra's Needle, London (bet you didn't know she was a seamstress)...
... & the queerest erection you ever did see (currently lancing the skyline of Dublin).
If we were more material than the current scientified & objective viewing allows, we would expect that those in the know would be knowledgeably using the material approach for their own bested interests.
"The Bank of England is "the central bank of the whole of the United Kingdom and ... the model on which most modern, large central banks have been based... established in 1694 to act as the English Government's banker, and to this day it still acts as the banker for the UK Government."
"The Bank's headquarters has been located in London's main financial district, the City of London, on Threadneedle Street, since 1734. It is sometimes known by the metonym The Old Lady of Threadneedle Street"
Probably just a co-incidence.
"Therapist Donald Winnicott claimed that it is in playing and only in playing that the individual (child or adult) is able to be creative and to use the whole personality, and it is only in being creative the individual discovers "the self."