August 16th, 2006

A Project For Mr. H

With a tip of the beret to yourbestfiend, whose reposting of Werner Herzog's imaginary diary still has me laughing, I offer the following news item as potential material for his next film project:
Three Mexican fishermen found drifting in the Pacific Ocean could have been lost for almost a year and two others were missing and presumed dead, the manager of a fishing company that rescued them said on Wednesday.

Early reports suggested the fishermen had been lost at sea for about three months and drifted more than 8,000 km (5,000 miles) before they were found by a Taiwanese tuna fishing trawler in waters between the Marshall Islands and Kiribati on August 9.
But the director must not offer any part in the film to Tom Hanks as a precondition of my waving rights to the story's fictional recreation.

The Shame

I'm beside myself with embarrassment. In my entry about circumcision this morning, I provided a false etymology. Even worse, I deceived my own daughter with the same lie. I didn't mean to perpetuate the deceit, but that doesn't make things right. So, without further ado, let me state, for the record, as bobo_amargo so graciously pointed out, that the word "incident" has a different parentage than "incisive." While the latter does, in fact, come from the Latin "cædere," meaning "to strike" or " to cut," the former actually derives from the Latin "cadere," meaning "to fall" or "to die."

My confusion came from an undergraduate lecture that I either remembered too dimly or didn't comprehend to begin with. You see, I had thought that those two Latin verbs were from the same Indo-European root because my instructor had made a play on words that centered on the phrase, "when the strike falls." But I've looked up the words in the Oxford English Dictionary and a few etymological dictionaries and can find no evidence to support my ill-founded conviction that "incident" and "incisive" are related.

The worst part of this discovery is that it is accompanied by the realization that I have done precisely what I rag on Martin Heidegger for doing: playing fast and loose with the history of words. I hope this isn't the start of something more serious. If I start looking at photos of Hannah Arendt with inexplicable longing -- already a possibility, given that she was definitely my type -- and am overcome with the desire to remove my shoes and dangle my feet in a Black Forest stream, I will know that I am infected. Maybe I should have a glance at Theodor Adorno's The Jargon of Authenticity in the hopes that it will serve as the zinc needed to forestall the worsening of this false etymology-inducing virus.