or, stuff that I dragged out of my head

Location: Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada

Sunday, June 24, 2007


I've mentioned Colourlovers before, right? Yes, I have. And I've mentioned how words pop into my head at random times, too, right? Yes, too many times to count. The two coincided a few days ago when I was making up some palettes: I remembered having heard the word "asphodel" before, and I remembered that it was a sort of flower, but that's all I knew.

After I looked it up, this is the palette I came up with.

Now, as for "asphodel" itself. The flower, to the ancient Greeks, was a member of the narcissus family, which name is that of the self-absorbed boy of Greek legend who fell in love with his own reflection: he was later changed into the flower of the same name, which derives from the Greek word "narkissos", which gave us the word "narcotic", "sleep-inducing", from the reputed narcotic powers of the flower. (I know this doesn't make any sense--why was the boy named for sleepiness or for a somnifacient agent?--but it's mythology, so it isn't supposed to.)

In modern times, however, the asphodel is otherwise known as the daffodil. In fact, the daffodil apparently gets it name from the Dutch version of it, preceded by the definite article: "de affodel".

Another version of the daffodil/narcissus is the flower known, mostly in the southern U.S., as the jonquil, and in fact "jonquille" is the French name for the daffodil.

Daffodils may be pretty, but they smell disgusting, and since pretty much the entire point of a flower, for me, is to bear a beautiful scent, I won't have anything to do with them.


Yesterday I was going on about the word "hypocrite" and I couldn't remember where I had come across it, so I guessed, and I guessed wrong, not that it matters hugely. The anecdote about Fred Thompson and the Cuban cigars was in an Entertainment Weekly cover story about Michael Moore, and Thompson wasn't called a hypocrite (though clearly he is): instead, Moore was quoted as having said, "I thought, 'There's a bit of hypocrisy in making a film about health care and not taking the best care of yourself.'" So I managed to conflate two different stories and get the source wrong, all at the same time. But at least I got to talk about an interesting word.


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