Thursday, November 22, 2012
Latin is Intense -- and other linguistic folly
Intensity has gotten a bad rap. I for one believe this is due to the Latin origins of the word. The Global Home-Book of Etymology defines ‘intense’ as:
the state of ‘tense’ that you are ‘in’ – as in ancient Sumeria when
Ronclad the Great entombed his daughter in gold to punish her for
her beauty. (It distracted Ronclad’s warriors.) Ronclad said to
her, ‘Vrap Molkik Stempkins Bort!” which means, “I cast you unto
a golden tomb,” which, by 112 AD, came to mean, “inside tension.”
Latin: tensorium intesticles: to be bound within that which you
may never escape. See Egyptian Mummification, Volume 4.
By the 21st Century, the word had evolved to mean “productive” and “industrious” (which is why Latin and etymology remain under-enrolled at institutions of higher tuition).
Indeed, modern intense people from industrialized nations often become inventors or excruciatingly rich. They are driven to resolve the un-resolvable, to get to the bottom of everything, to “find a better way.”
In under-developed countries, they squat over straw mats for days picking mites from hooves of llamas.
People who are not intense are lazy. That sounds intense to say, but it can be illustrated.
Take, for instance, unemployment. An intense person will be incensed by losing her job. Unemployment is one of the worst states of tension one can be bound within. It causes poverty, world hunger, pedestrians, street mimes, telemarketing, impotence and death.
Beyond that, intense people cannot stand having nothing to do. They will email –within an hour of receiving their pink slip – 2,000 resumes to unsuspecting employers worldwide and they will land a job by sundown. It doesn’t matter what the job is, and when the glamour of ferret-skinning or selling blood to the Red Cross fades, more intense employment will be found. Like blending energy-smoothies for yoga students you teach in your unfinished basement.
Jobless people who aren’t intense amaze intense folks by not dying. They sorta hang around reading a lot, picking at bills and watching movies. For a lark, they circle want ads then snail-mail typo-infested resumes to no one in particular … and when the spirit moves them, they land a job. Like initiating hostile takeovers on helpless industrial corporations.
People who are not intense look at intense people and sniff, “You should RELAX!” or, “You are OBSESSED!”
Which is silly.
Intense people can only relax when they hold their breath, concentrate and push – which is pretty exhausting for people who should be busy saving the earth.
And there is a big difference between being intense and being obsessed. Obsession is defined in the Family Almanac Word Book as “intensity gone bad. (See Perimenopause, pg. 262.)”
Technically, intense people are not obsessed. They are “focused.” This is good for swat teams, brain surgeons and deactivating nuclear bombs.
It is bad for relationships, ironing rayon and microwave snacks. (Once I actually weaponized a Ham and Cheese Hot Pocket.)
Suppose, for example, a great song comes on the radio. Un-intense people really enjoy it and sing along. But intense people “focus” on the song, then lunge for volume-control to dial-up ‘Mega Blast’ until the woofers rocket out of the speakers, splitting the sound barrier and time-traveling through a wall.
Focus: the concentration necessary to enjoy things 'til they break.
Several years ago I wrote an article about intensity only I didn’t know it. I had defined emotional extremists as people who dance the fine line between perception and paranoia, commitment and fixation, creative license and a lawsuit.
Intensity, when it reaches a state of art, is the ability not to cross the line.
Only then may it be celebrated as a vehicle to excellence and overachievement.
I mean, without intensity, the world might accept substandard conditions like, “This can’t be repaired,” “That’s too much frosting,” “I’m not aroused now,” and “No.”
Indeed, as I write this, the standard for “average” is being raised to “nearly good.”
Soon mediocrity will be rendered extinct and may be placed next to those tensorium intesticles that took out Ronclad’s daughter.
“Intense: to boldly go where no man has gone before – even if that is
inside gold tombs in which pretty women are buried alive. See Tomb
#9: Given, C.; Under-employed English Teacher.”