I found another picture of the brain, in which the parahippocampal gyrus
is put in its place, so to speak, in the left hemisphere of the brain, but that picture and more detailed discussion of the human brain will have to await other essays.
To the Humanistic "Un's"--Unbe and Unclubbable
After dealing with hands and brains in the last two essays, with hooks and inches, let's now return to some of the "un" words which have a more humanistic meaning. I wanted to pause for a second on the verb unbe because it is so unlikely to appear in our current conversation but is, in my judgment, a good word to resurrect. Unbe can either mean to lack being or to deprive something of existence. From 1795: "My house is unbigged, my barn's unbeen." Or, from as early as 1624: "How oft, with danger of the field beset/ Or with home mutineys, would he unbee himself?" From 1646: "God..could as easily destroy them, as subdue them, unbee them as conquer them." In our day we might have the tendency to use the word "off" or "kill" or "destroy," but the stark clarity and sobering effect of the verb "unbe" is much more powerful than any of those alternatives. If we can have a sentence such as "the result was his undoing," we certainly can speak of something being the "cause of his unbeeing."
One of my favorite "un" words, however, is "unclubbable." In our day, when so much emphasis is placed on athletic competition, we immediately think that the work means something like, "unable to be beaten or clubbed." But, in fact, it is a rarely-occurring word in English (actually spelled "unclubable" in the Century, even though it is unclubbable in the Collegiate and OED, which means "unsociable," or "not fitting into the atmosphere of a club." I like an 1859 quotation: "Moreover, they are a people who drink standing,... a most unclubable characteristic." I guess a club man wouldn't have been caught dead ("unbeen?") drinking while standing; I will have to observe closely the manners of the guys when I am out drinking the next time. Why is the word spelled unclubable in the OED listed as unclubbable in both the OED and Collegiate? Beats me, unless it is because the most recent quotation cited, from 1867, lists the word as unclubbable. No clearer illustration of the conventional, rather than inherent, character of spelling need be shown.
A Few More "Un's"
The OED gives us no definition of uncorseted, but it only provides this example: "The busy bathing-women..uncouth, uncorsetted figures." Interesting it is, then, that both the OED and Collegiate spell it with a single "t." This, actually, is confusing, since the modern dictionaries double the "b" in unclubbable but let the "t" stay single in uncorseted. I bet I will confuse them if asked at the Bee. Fortunately, I doubt if these words will be tested. I much prefer the figurative meaning of the latter's definition: "1. not wearing a corset 2. not controlled or inhibited." Thus, a person could feel, after a constraining experience, a sense of "uncorseted freedom." "Though there were times when he was quite happy to be married, occasionally he longed wistfully for those times of uncorseted activity when he could do completely as he pleased." This word has real possibilities in our day.
I spoke about the words unnilquadium, unnilhexium and unnilpentium in another essay written last year, and those words are still applicable today. The word unweeting is simply an archaic spelling of unwitting, whether or not you were wittingly aware of it. Though the Collegiate defines upas in a ho-hum sort of way as "a tall tropical Asian tree of the mulberry family," the OED brings us into the intrigue of the tree and its definition. Actually, the Wikipedia online article on it, known by its official name as the Antiaris toxicaria, is worth quoting in some detail. It says:
"The name of the upas tree became famous from the mendacious account (professedly by one Foersch, who was a surgeon at Samarang in 1773) published in the London Magazine, December 1783, and popularized by Erasmus Darwin in Loves of the Plants (Botanic Garden, pt. ii.). The tree was said to destroy all animal life within a radius of 15 m or more. The poison was fetched by condemned malefactors, of whom scarcely two out of twenty returned. All this is pure fable, and in good part not even traditional fable, but mere invention."
So powerful was the picture created by this myth that it was picked up by England's most illustrious poets, among them Lord Byron, who could liken the upas tree to original sin--in the Fourth Canto of Childe Harold's Pilgrimage:
"Our life is a false nature--'tis not in
The harmony of things,--this hard decree,
This ineradicable taint of sin,
This boundless upas, this all-blasting tree..."
I wonder which of our firmly-held beliefs today will be exposed some day for what they are--mere myths that have stimulated, falsely as it turns out, the efforts of poets, writers and other creative people?