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(April 19, 2002)

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There is a constant barrier between the reader and his consciousness of immediate contact with the world.

William Carlos Williams


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Intersinuations

While reading Calvino's Under the Jaguar Sun on the train to work this morning, I ran across the following passage:

It was his way of speaking -- or rather, one of his ways; the copious information Salustiano supplied (about the history and customs and nature of his counrty his erudition was inexhaustible) was either stated emphatically like a war proclamation or slyly insinuated as if it were charged with all sorts of implied meanings.
The word "insinuated" is hyphenated after "in" and spans a page break -- for some reason when I was reading I was expecting the word to be something starting with "inter", maybe "interposed" or something -- so I unconsciously supplied the "ter" as I turned the page. With the result that the word I read, was "intersinuated". What a lovely word that would be! I have always heard "insinuate" as connoting a sort of snaky presence, a way of causing hidden concepts to slither into the meaning of your words. (I think but am not sure that an etymological basis for this impression exists.)* And changing the prefix to "inter" reinforces that I think -- not "slithering into" but "slithering among"...

Oh, and: the story is great. Quite applicable to my own consciousness.


* Ah yes, it comes from "sinus", which means "curve" like in "sine wave" -- that's where I'm getting "snake" from, it is a curvy animal.

posted morning of July 15th, 2005: Respond
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