Monday Musing 212 - "In the beginning there was the word..."
There is great magic in words. Many of them are not merely words but stories unto themselves. Over a period of time they acquire a life of their own and the average reader is far removed from its origins or initial usage. The science of it is called Etymology.
In the course of enjoying a recent book I happen to learn the origin of the word ‘sincere’. Apparently in the old times while a sculptor would make a bust or an idol, he would apply wax to fill cracks if any and then cover them with the crushed stone powder with which the bust was being made. Obviously those with such wax linings were considered of poorer quality than the ones which did not have any cracks and hence did not need such wax corrections. Hence the one which were pure, were without wax or sin cere as in latin, and voila – sincere!!
I suddenly recollected how a classmate of mine during my business school had educated us, quite dramatically at that, that the act of making decision was essentially a violent act. Apparently it is not such a great idea of be in two minds and vacillate between two positions. To arrive at a decision is to kill the two and arrive at one, i.e. de (two) Cide (kill) and voila again decide!!
Dan Brown in his novel The last word opines that early thinkers and ancient people considered the mind as the most powerful reservoir of wisdom, energy and power. Such an enlightened mind was capable to creating miracles and hence worthy of being worshiped. Hence the word temple to describe the side of the head – the holy place where such a mind rests.
The Italians would keep a ship suspected with contamination or carrier of infections in observation for forty days, (quaranta = forty) and hence anything under observation in a secluded place or position is to be quarantined.
The Bible says “In the beginning there was the word…” It’s not surprising that most religions have written words that are considered holy and pious. All religions have some book or the other for its followers to abide by, take inspiration from, resort to in times of ambivalence, ambiguity and crisis. These written words have stories to tell, advise to give, directions to provide, comfort to offer and at the end of it all, happiness to promise. It is through the words, its meaning and imagery that they have managed to survive, thrive and spread over hundreds of years. Then it suddenly dawns upon me that in my own religion Sikhism the hymns sung in mellifluous raags, which should have been called as songs are not called songs but are actually called Shabads, which means ‘word’.
Let’s know the world of words better.