March 26, 2012
I made a discovery today. I’m out of touch with modern language. Not entirely, one can hope, just enough to have spent a half hour looking up a word that I use quite frequently but that doesn’t seem have an actual, or at least virtual, definition.
T o r p i t u d e
As I typed the letters, again and again, my mac stubbornly insisted that such a configuration could not be found, suggesting instead the more exciting but somewhat sinister “turpitude” (noun, depravity, wickedness). After trying several online sites, most of which offered a few bizarre ads (“Enter Canada with a DUI!” Uh, why?), followed by the single-word extension, “Torpidness,” I landed upon this helpful addition: “Torpitude: archaic. For complete definition, please upgrade your status.”
Yup, that’s me, in need of a status upgrade. At least I’m not alone.
I have in my possession a 2 pound, paper bound edition of the 1996 Oxford Dictionary (American Version), which yields the following results.
- sluggish; inactive; dull; apathetic
- (of a hibernating animal) dormant
I’m not entirely sure what the difference between definitions 1 and 2 might be in this case. Perhaps a fine distinction is needed, as some entries specify that such sluggishness, inactivity, and apathy are of the mind. In which case, surely, numbness would indeed connote something entirely different. Something physical bordering on coma, perhaps, if not complete cessation of all activity.
Fortunately, I am assailed by neither numbness nor physical torpitude. That’s one positive. The other is that one cannot have torpitude without prior activity to make it relevant. How relevant I leave to you.
I’ve been in a frenzy the last month or so, mostly related to the now-archived, and therefore nearly defunct, post “Aspiration” (see February 18th, please!). In that time, I’ve procured new clients, developed new projects, studied the art of book making, and, at long last, submitted my work to several promising outlets, as well as a few that weren’t so promising but which nonetheless beckoned. In February I flew to Chicago to meet with friends and check out the AWP conference. Trying to hold on to the big city, life-is-exciting-and-some-people-really-do-embrace-literature vibe, I attended a lecture by poet Ed Hirsch (www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/20536) here in Charlotte. Along with friends Marie Goocher and Russ Case, I enjoyed 90 provocative minutes of words and language and grief. But the evening was fleeting and memory fades quickly.
As often happens after I travel to and return home from a meeting of minds akin to and in tune with my own, I am now suffering a period of let-down. Of, holy sh*t, why do I live here? Compounding matters, two of my new client/projects are now complete, and only one has appeared to fill that time. Book making is feeling ever more complex (but no less desirable), and as of today, submission has stalled; I wait in a state of ever growing torture to learn the fate of my own words. Will they too be deemed “archaic” (adj, antiquated; primitive; no longer in ordinary use)? Is my brain, my voice, my spirit, fit for literary creation, and by extension, consumption?
Well, anyway, at least I don’t have consumption (noun, wasting disease, esp. pulmonary tuberculosis. “Dated,” but not archaic). A negative positive, if you will.