I opine

“eldritch”: Merriam-Webster Dictionary’s Word of the Day

Posted in music, words by jaeminuf on October 28, 2008

Today’s word of the day is “eldritch,” meaning “weird” or “eerie.”

The Word of the Day for October 28, 2008 is:

eldritch • \EL-dritch\ adjective

: weird, eerie

Example Sentence:

Christina accompanied her ghost story by playing a recording filled with creaks, howls, and other eldritch sound effects.

Did you know?

“Curse,” “cobweb,” “witch,” “ghost,” and even “Halloween” — all of these potentially spooky words have roots in Old English. “Eldritch,” also, comes from a time when otherworldly beings were commonly thought to inhabit the earth. The word is about 500 years old and believed to have come from Middle English “elfriche,” meaning “fairyland.” The two components of “elfriche” — “elf” and “riche” — come from the Old English “ælf” and “rīce” (words which meant, literally, “elf kingdom”). Robert Louis Stevenson wasn’t scared of “eldritch.” He used the term in his novel Kidnapped: “‘The curse on him and his house, byre and stable, man, guest, and master, wife, miss, or bairn — black, black be their fall!’ –The woman, whose voice had risen to a kind of eldritch sing-song, turned with a skip, and was gone.”

 

When I saw the word and the definition, a lightbulb went off.

During my teenhood, I was more than a wee bit into gothic rock (or what kids these days call “goth”). And of course, I loved the Sisters of Mercy. Who could not love Dominion/Mother Russia?

But why am I going on about the Sisters of Mercy in relation to “eldritch,” today’s Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary Word of the Day? Andrew Eldritch, the lead singer of the Sisters of Mercy. How apropos for the last name of one of goth music’s leading figures to mean “eerie” and “weird.” Of course, I realize that this was no mere coincidence, but that’d make me heart Andrew Eldritch even more.

 

Well-Intentioned But Misguided

Posted in education, ethics, gender, politics by jaeminuf on September 7, 2008

When I returned from my first year at Bryn Mawr College, I was a bit of a firebrand. Full of zeal, passionately committed to righting wrongs, to disabusing grossly mistaken notions less enlightened folks held, and so on. (Yes, cringe all you’d like… It’s totally deserved.)

One of the issues of note for me was the politics of naming. Of ensuring that we did not continue to perpetrate violence by denying people their right to self-definition. So, holier than thou I was, thumping on my soapbox (yep, this tendency is obviously not new) that it’s not merely about being politically correct (which to me meant wanting pat, easy answers so that those who were so hung up on being pc would not have to really reflect upon their own complicity in the perpetration of violence) but about putting an end to violence psychically, socioeconomically, culturally, that it was about radical change, and so on.

So, here I was, a zealous eighteen year old telling my very kind thirtysomething neighbor (who was trying to raise her son on her own after a divorce all the whilst trying to pursue a meaningful career that’d utilize the top knotch education she’d received at William and Mary) how horrible it was that people continued to say “indians” to refer to Native Americans, that this name reiterates the violence of Euro-American hegemony. At that moment, my good neighbor tried to get me to step back and question whether I might be shooting myself in the foot by being so aggressively dogmatic in “enlightening” and “raising the consciousness” of my neighbors. And to question whether I was not in my own way doing violence to Native Americans by reducing them to being nothing but dignified victims of Western hegemony, by allowing myself to regard them primarily in terms of their victimization. And to ask myself if every single person who was of indigenous descent would choose to self-identify as Native American, that might it not be that Native American was yet another externally imposed label, one that says more about those other Americans who are not Native? If I remember correctly, I think she tried to tell me that, if anything, it was a more common practice amongst those I was calling Native American to identify themselves by their tribal affiliations.

I didn’t catch it then. In fact, (more…)