We’ve Got You Surrounded

Uncomfortably Numb
The Interactive Newsletter You Never Asked For

We’ve Got You Surrounded

Surrounded? Look at your surroundings and say, “Wait a minute. If I am surrounded by my surroundings, what does that mean? And what do those words actually mean?”
—UnNumb / Issue One

As usual, I ran across something unexpected before writing what I’d planned to write. As usual, I’m unable to fully describe the tributaries leading into (and away from) this river of thought and experience. Suffice to say, things continue to just happen to happen in a seemingly cohesive, cogent fashion.

con•verge 1. To approach the same point from different directions; tend toward a meeting or intersection… (see wer-3 in Appendix).

Between that last paragraph and what I was intending to write next (yes, it happened again), I just happened across that word. Funny how it fits the flavor of what’s been written (especially in Universal Thoughts) and what’s yet to come.

Yesterday, while leafing through The Great Thoughts, compiled by George Seldes, I ran across a number of remarkable thoughts, including this one that wasn’t highlighted, but did have a question mark by it in the margin:

Semantics teaches us to watch our prejudices…
Semantics is the propagandist’s worst friend.
—Stewart Chase / Guides to Straight Thinking

I know semantics has something to do with words, but what, exactly?

se•man•tics  1. Linguistics. The study or science of meaning in language forms, particularly with regard to its historical change. 2. Logic. The study of relationships between signs and symbols and what they represent.

Before I get to “surround,” please allow me to share with you one of the “about a dozen new trails” I stumbled into while following-up on “oblivion” last issue. In the introduction to that issue, I wrote about providing you with “provocative alternatives to conventional perspectives.” One word I stumbled across seems to speak to one of those alternate perspectives:

ob•vert 1. To turn so as to present another side or aspect to view. [Latin obvertere, to turn toward… (see wer-3 in Appendix).]

Obvert just happens to fall right before obviate and obvious. (Remember them?) The next word in the series is obvolute. In a linear sense, these two new words may be said to “surround” the other two “ob” words.

Before proceeding, I should explain that curious word groupings aren’t at all uncommon in this story. Common sense might lead you to shrug this off as an obvious outcome of the alphabetical nature of any dictionary. We might expect consecutive words to relate to one another such as (opening the dictionary at random):

lone, lone hand, lonely, loner, lonesome.

So, what’s so interesting about: obvert, obviate, obvious, and obvolute? (I’m trying to figure how to say this without making it seem like I set you up for it.)

First, it’s “obvious,” yet I didn’t notice it until following-up on a seemingly innocent spelling check for carnival (refer to Supplemental Thoughts in last issue to verify how psyched I was to find these unexpected connections). You’re only getting a narrow window on a larger (though still restricted) picture that I’m experiencing, yet you should be able to begin to see how this continues to come full circle and reinforce the ultimate story that’s emerging.

The Indo-European root word for obvert just happens to be the same as the one for converge (see above), but it’s different than the root for obviate and obvious which in turn is different than the root for obvolute. (Three different root words means these four “ob” words originated from three different concepts. The root word for obvert and converge is also the same as the root for divert, pervert, and invert (among other words).

When I saw those three words, I immediately flashed on an old Beatles song (recorded with Eric Clapton), While My Guitar Gently Weeps (four relevant lines):

I look at you all / See the love there that’s sleeping
I don’t know why nobody told you how to unfold your love
I don’t know how you were diverted / You were perverted too
I don’t know how you were inverted / No one alerted you

This, in turn, leads in all kinds of directions, to other songs, other concepts, but, focus on those lyrics. “Sleeping” is always a key word, but in this instance, unfold is the word that really jumps out. (Hang in there, this’ll make sense.)

The root word for converge/obvert/divert/pervert/invert just happens to be the same root word for that curved space-time thing that’s folded back on itself. You know, that big black thing that surrounds and contains you and me and all the stars in all the galaxies: the universe.

wer-3. Base of various Indo-European roots; to turn, bend… turned toward, inward… Old English wyrd, fate, destiny, “that which befalls one”… “rolled thing”… to twist, curved… magic wheel… “to wind around.”

Okay, so how does all this connect with the fourth word in the series?

ob•vo•lute  Botany. Folded together with overlapping edges. Said of leaves or petals in a bud. [Latin obvolutus, past participle of obvolvere, to wrap around, surround (see wel-3 in Appendix).]

wel-3. To turn, roll; with derivatives referring to curved, enclosing objects.

Had I not been diverted, I would have gotten to my point sooner. That point? Oh, something about being surrounded by a curved, enclosing object. And something about the need to evolve from this curved, enclosing object.

So, how does one blossom and evolve from a curved, enclosing object?

Since you’ve been so patient, I’ll skip the details and cut to the punch line: Our evolutionary lever may be the Golden Rule in action. I can’t be certain, but until we find a better solution, it’s probably a good idea to give it a try. Unconditional Love in word and deed—Unconditional Love for God, for all of our brothers and sisters, and yes, even for ourselves.

The fulcrum has yet to be found that shall enable the lever of love to move the world.
—Charles S. Pierce / Science, Materialism and Idealism

ful•crum  …2. A position, element, or agency through, around, or by means of which vital powers are exercised.

Here’s two relevant lines from While My Guitar Gently Weeps:

I look at you all / See the love there that’s sleeping
I don’t know why nobody told you how to unfold your love

If our love is indeed sleeping, it would seem to be important that we learn how to awaken and unfold it … somehow. But what does it mean, to unfold our love?

un•fold  v. —tr. 1. To open and spread out; extend (something folded). 2. To remove the coverings from; disclose to view. 3. To reveal gradually by written or spoken explanation; make known. —intr. 1. To become spread out; open out. 2. To be revealed gradually to the understanding.

The story unfolds…

There is a land of the living and a land of the dead and the only bridge is love, the only survival, the only meaning.
—Thorton Wilder / The Bridge of San Luis Rey


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