So, avuncular (unclelike), saturnine (sluggish), sybaritic (pleasure-loving), antediluvian (primitive), concomitant (accompanying), uxorious (fawning), lucubrate (laborious studying), vulpine (foxlike), fissiparous (fractious), skeuomorph (look it up yourself) and how about …obdurate?
After a few weeks in the tall grass of Internet dictionaries, I propose a return to the comforting hearth-smoke of Webster’s Fourth and my sturdy, handwritten cards of vocabulary words. Obdurate (AHB-der-itt), an adjective, from the Latin obduratus (to harden), is defined as “not easily moved to pity or sympathy; hardhearted.” It is snug in the pages of my dictionary between obcordate, an adjective for leaf-loving botanists that means “heart-shaped and joined to the stem at the apex,” and O.B.E., an abbreviation for Order of the British Empire.
The adverb, naturally, is obdurately, and some wags think you can swing a verb out of the deal, especially if you draw out the last syllable into an “ate.” (Mitt Romney’s bumbling political style has obdurated me against him forever.) But Webster’s Fourth does not agree, and I think you end up sounding like a member of the O.B.E. For the noun form, go with obduracy over obdurateness or obduration or anything else.
Anyway, that is fun, right? Such a useful word. So many applications, probably some of them sitting not too far from you in the office.
Really, though, I picked this word because of its delicious versatility. The succeeding alternative definitions are “2, hardened and unrepenting; impenitent,” and “3, not giving in readily; stubborn; obstinate; inflexible.” Obstinate! Impenitent! Like the opposite of Indiana Jones’s penitent man. (Chop!)
Now. To be honest, I had a mind to pick callipygian, an adjective, meaning “having shapely buttocks,” partly in response to the choice of uxorious that was imposed on me some weeks ago. But I obdurately stuck to my guns. (Get it?)
Anyway, a Google search for callipygian is a M.N.S.F.W. misadventure in Kim Kardashian articles. Obdurate is far more durable. Observe:
- From The Daily News! “More than 75 percent of MPs are in favor of parliament functioning normally but the BJP is being ‘obdurate and stubborn’ in holding up proceedings over the coal blocks allocation, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal said Monday.”
- The Financial Times! “Egregious recent examples of bad corporate governance suggest that some very old governance chestnuts remain as obdurate as ever.”
- The Irish Post! “We’ve seen his side take commanding leads in both games but, obdurate as ever, Kilkenny have always charged back at them.”
It means that effortful adherence to religious or philosophical dictums often requiring meditation, prayer or moral education, though clearly valuable and capable of producing results, is not the only way to go.
Happiness, it turns out, has a cost when experienced too intensely.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Recommended, to his fans. Again.
“Silence” is a pleasing, and brief, dissertation on meditative meaning and monastic history, with all the usual Fermor qualities.
Try not to be distracted by the incredibly, and unnecessarily, distracting introduction in which Fermor tries to skirt his own personal disbelief in elegant and opaque fashion. “I was hindered by several disabilities,” he begins, tantalizingly, “from sharing to the utmost all the advantages a stranger may gain from monastic sojourns.”
I confess that, had I had a medical textbook handy, I might have consulted it for some hint of what Fermor was on about. But as he writes in the very next sentence, “Hints they must remain as they touch on perplexities that have little bearing on the main drift of this book…” (’Nuff said, Paddy.)
Little hint of these perplexities are discernible in the words that follow. Fermor’s agile mind is ideally suited for contemplative settings.
My own, however, tends to wander. As when Fermor described a ghastly piece of art at the Grande Trappe depicting a skeleton, with an hour-glass, scythe and the legend, “Tonight, perhaps?” Thankfully, Fermor steadied my nerves immediately: “It is scarcely marvelous that the most liberal-minded laymen have detected in such disturbing symbolism, in the perpetual silence, the ghostly costume and the pervading melancholy of a Trappist abbey, no message but one of despair and a morose delectation of Death.”
Why does yoga produce so many philanderers? And why do the resulting uproars leave so many people shocked and distraught?
Sonia says that, after meeting Guruji, Paul concluded, “He’s the happiest person I know, and he’s not on drugs,” so, he thought, there had to be something to his system.
- REVIEW: The Science of Yoga: The Risks and the Rewards (macleans.ca)
Revelation is a highly colored picture of the present, not a prophecy of the future.
The difference between atheists and believers on the question of moral values is, as with question of Creation, not a difference in how we define morality – both have to decide what is right and wrong – but rather about how we wish to explain it. One accepts it as a human creation, the other feels necessary to alienate that creation to God. The difference, in other words is between those who are happy to accept the unnerving thought that we live by our own morals and those who like to imagine that they can set their ethics in concrete by invoking the figure of God.