Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Matter of an unspecified kind

Words are part of the tools of a trade, and I like learning them.

I've been stitching with friends on Tuesdays for a month now.
Last week I said, "I just like sewing stuff onto other stuff."

An accomplished fiber artist among us said, "You like appliqué."

I'm glad to know the word, but for what I am doing, I still prefer "sewing stuff onto other stuff."
I've said that my pieces (like current project above ^) look to me like soft armor, so I was amazed to look up the etymology of stuff and read its root:

 "early 14c., quilted material worn under chain mail [!]
--from Old French estoffe "quilted material, furniture, provisions"

The sense of the word "extended to material for working with in various trades (c. 1400), then "matter of an unspecified kind" (1570s). 

Matter of an unspecified kind.  
I like that phrase so much, maybe I'll add it to my blog profile.

II. Stretchy Stuff

I'm going for a bike ride this cool morning. Cool , but still sticky:
67°F;  Humidity 87%

Then it's back to Lincoln---I've finished the major revisions to the author's ms., now I'm going to find and add some quotes from people who weren't white men, of which there are currently none in the book. 

People get all het up about political correctness, but you know, it's often just a matter of telling a better story.

Telling a better story. By which I mean, here, also a "truer" story (this purporting to be some kind of history, not fiction).

Revisiting US history, I see again (again, again, again) the IDEAL of the United States is all about extending "liberty and justice for all" to all.

I hadn't realized how often Lincoln quoted this phrase from the Declaration of Independence, like it was God's truth:
"all men are created equal."

His debating partner, Stephen Douglas, said that phrase was said by white men, for white men.
True, at the time [Thomas Jefferson, I'm looking at you], 
but it's stretchy stuff, equality, and it can and should extend to everyone.
Once in a while we tug on it a little more to cover another group.
(Tho' some of us tug mightily in the other direction.)

It makes for a good story, but not a peaceful story, that's for sure... 
I'm always shocked to be reminded how many people got killed in  the American Civil War. It was by far the deadliest war the US has fought---estimates are as high as 850,000 dead, twice the US death toll of World War II, the next-deadliest war for Americans.

Laura's German boyfriend was in town last week, and I asked him if we Americans seem violent. 
Big surprise, he said yes. 

Maybe we need armor, but let it be soft, so we can stretch and bend.


Gary's third pottery blog said...

Delighted to meet you and thanks for visiting my blob :) Now I shall look around here!

Zhoen said...

I'm calling mine a blob from now on.

Stuff, goes well with nonsense? A mere joke there, stuff and nonsense. I like your etymology and your slappy appliqué.


"The term “political correctness” is so general that to most people it simply means a discomfort with changing times and attitudes, an attack on the traditions of how we were raised. (It’s an emotional challenge every generation has had to go through.) What it really means is nothing more than sensitizing people to the fact that some old-fashioned words, attitudes and actions may be harmful or insulting to others. Naturally, people are angry about that because it makes them feel stupid or mean when they really aren’t. But when times change, we need to change with them in areas that strengthen our society."
-Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

Fresca said...

GARY: Welcome! Nice to meet you.

ZHOEN: "it [p.c-ism] makes them feel stupid or mean when they really aren’t."

Yes, that's really a good and generous way of putting it, and I agree.
But I guess if we're not mean or stupid, we could use our kind intelligence, as KAJ says, to change for the good of all.

There's that appeal again to the better angels of our nature.