I was trying to understand the roots of the words gymnastics, which came from the Greek gymnasium. Was it a word about activity? A place where you do activity, or with the body, perhaps? I was given another word gymnanthous which was defined further as achlamydeous, and I vented that this was the problem with dictionaries. You look up a word, and it hyper-links to another word you don’t know and so on. (Achlamydeous=having neither calyx nor corolla). Like googling websites, you link and link, and suddenly it was a rabbit hole that ate up a half hour of your day.
Yet, it was glorious, wasn’t it?
Apparently, I’m not alone. When I put this on social media, I found that I know many people who get starry-eyed at the thought of dictionaries, many who used to thumb through them at leisure, and some who own them. My People! (They also are quite fond of buttered toast, but who isn’t?)
Warning: Spoilers ahead for the TV series “The Travelers,” “The Umbrella Academy,” and the movie Interstellar, as well as The Time Machine, Star Trek’s “City on the Edge of Forever,” and Oedipus Rex. Plus thinking about things that make your head hurt.
Old English poem The Wanderer and Bernard Cornwell’s Saxon Stories
The Norse understood about Fate because their worldview envisioned Norns, Weird (Wyrd) Sisters who controlled all that happened, weaving the giant tapestry of our lives. The sisters represented what was, what is, and what is to be. One Old English poet summed it up in that “weird” saying: Fate is unalterable. The Greeks understood it, too, at least the ones that told the story of Oedipus.
Science fiction writers are kind of on the fence.
Recently, I have been binge-watching series that happen to address time travel. We’ve gotten so used to this as a subject that we take for granted certain conventions, namely that it’s possible in a sci fi story to go back and change something in the past to alter the future. But what if it turns out that isn’t possible? What happens when Wyrd bið ful aræd — the idea that the future can’t be changed–smashes into the quantum technology that allows movement through time? Time travel, meet the Norns.
We seem to be so grouchy about our entertainment. There was so much grousing about the 92 Academy Award nominees and the awards show itself, you’d think the entire world was forced to take a spelling test and file their taxes at the same time. There’s not enough diversity in the nominees. There’s too much diversity in the production numbers. There’s too much politics in the acceptance speeches. Don’t like that host. Don’t like not having a host. The ceremony is too long. They shouldn’t have cut off the speech from THAT person… The Academy Awards seems like a microcosm of our American politics. No one likes the process or the outcome, except for the ones we agree with.
Thoroughly NonAmerican and Violent
In the interests of full disclosure, I did not see Parasite, which won Best Picture. It also won Best International Film (note the change in language from the old “Best Foreign Film”), Best Director, and Best Adapted Screenplay. This was the first time the Best International film also won this distinction and the first time the Best Picture was in a non-English language. Seems especially ironic in a country immersed in a war over whether to expel everyone not from ‘Murica.