THE BLOG
12/31/2014 11:57 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Broadening Your Event Horizon

2014-12-31-Pandora.jpg

You go to an otolaryngologist for throat problems, but an ichthyologist if you're the old man in the Hemingway novel and want to know what fish your wrestling with. Herpetologists are consulted about the representation of snakes in Egyptian mythology and if you want to understand Vladimir Nabokov, who collected butterflies, then you'd better know your lepidoptera. See an arachnologist if you have a question about spiders. If you're interested in charitable matters then get used to the word eleemosynary and if you're the kind of person who is always anticipating questions don't feel bad if you're accused of prolepsis. It could be worse. You could be rebarbative or morganatic, which is to say that you may be one of the royalty, but you won't be able to pass on your title. There are so many more quotidian words to describe human aspirations. I'd rather be a quisling than a person who sells out his own country. I'd rather suffer the psychoanalytic condition of après coup than a mere trauma. Bipolarity and borderline disorders are such ubiquitous diagnoses these days that they literal demand bigger words with little tails like casus belli. I would much rather suffer a paraphilia than be a simply pervert. Irredentism is a conversation stopper, but what would you prefer an ugly silence or another boring and destructive civil war since there are always those little breakaways that are not going to happily allow themselves to be reconstituted into the whole. Are you just a utilitarian who's read his Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill or consequentialist? Getting down and dirty do you follow the Chicago school and supply side economics or do you hearken back to Herbert Spencer's Social Darwinism? Call a spade a spade. Don't settle for being a game theorist when you can, following Philippa Foot, become a prodigy of trolleyology. Why study loss aversion when you can pursue neuro-economics? Tinnitus is annoying, but tintinnabulation can be majestic. Everyone wants a six pack, but an extended word is not a distended stomach. It need not be a Pandora's Box. It's a form of prestidigitation that will broaden your event horizon.

Painting: "Pandora" by Jules Joseph Lefebvre (1882)

{This was originally posted to The Screaming Pope, Francis Levy's blog of rants and reactions to contemporary politics, art and culture}