I found myself thinking about weeds this morning. I imagine the concept doesn't have much meaning outside the context of gardening. I'm curious about the word's etymology. It's clearly of Anglo Saxon origin, but what else...Let's do a quick search. The online etymology dictionary helps some: "O.E. weod, uueod "grass, herb, weed," from P.Gmc. *weud- (cf. O.S. wiod, E.Fris. wiud), of unknown origin. Meaning "tobacco" is from c.1600; that of "marijuana" is from 1920s. The verb meaning "to clear the ground of weeds" is late O.E. weodian. Related: Weeded; weeding." Interesting enough. And a good example of how meaning tends to be so heavily dependent on context. In this case, the concept of undesirabiity is at the core of "weed", but that makes no sense until we can grasp the notion of cultivation, be it a garden, a "native" space", etc. Think about it: who can actually identify, in a botanical sense, what plants we refer to when talking of weeds? It's not about botany, of course.

Anyway, weeds got me thinking about negativity in language, which got me thinking about insults, which got me thinking about the thoroughly miserable state of our political discourse, which seems to sink ever lower.

And that was my walk, observing how some neighbors are very attentive to weed control and others not. And that got me thinking about the difference between wanting and fantasizing. In a gardening context. I keep going back to the garden not because I want anything in particular, but because I fantasize about an aesthetic ideal. I'll never get there, but the process is fun and sometimes quite gratifying. After Eden? Perhaps. And I suspect it was the very same "after Eden" fantasy that got me going with weed. Chasing fantasies can blind. And can enlighten. I hope I'm learning something about the distinction. And that's what I'm on guard against, I think: the dangerous illusion of convergence.

No comments:

Post a Comment