Scrimshank

Scrimshank

A playful, crunchy sounding word. Edmund de Waal uses this to suggest all over the place, at random: ‘bricks are piled scrimshanks’.   However, the dictionary refers to a ‘scrimshank’ as one who shirks their duty, especially someone in the armed...
Breathturn (Atemwende)

Breathturn (Atemwende)

A word coined by the poet Paul Celan.   Edmund de Waal mentions that ‘Celan cannot find words to fit together easily. German is his language, but he is Jewish and German is also the language that killed his family. So Celan brings words together into newness’.   One...
A pilgrim’s path

A pilgrim’s path

Luiz and I have talked about taking some long walks or bike rides and even doing a stretch of the Compostela walk. But for a real pilgrimage, there can sometimes be a sense of loss when you reach the end, a ‘what now?’ mixed in with relief and joy.  Similarly with...
Haptic

Haptic

Edmund de Waal speaks of haptic knowledge, ‘the ways in which it is possible to know something complex without having the need, or the means, to articulate it in language’.   We can sometimes perform without knowing how the thing works, and a friend of mine describes...
Bees and trees

Bees and trees

This captures what I feel when I see sage and valiant bees and the genius of trees. ‘The earth is not as you see it. There is a sagacity in bees, there is a genius in trees.’ Source: Edmund de Waal, The White Road: a pilgrimage of sorts (London: Chatto & Windus,...
All about revolutions

All about revolutions

Fine understatement given how many billions of human hours have been lost obliging people to listen to revolutionary speeches. ‘That is slightly the problem with revolutions. There are an awful lot of speeches to sit through.’ Source: Edmund de Waal, The White Road: a...
Green on green

Green on green

A lovely description and an idyllic image of an English county. ‘Herefordshire is green on green, lichen on old apple branches, ivy in the woods, the rot in the floorboards.’ Source: Edmund de Waal, The White Road: a pilgrimage of sorts (London: Chatto & Windus,...

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