Minding Some "P's"
Still More "P's"
Lord of the Flies I
Lord of the Flies II
Caponiere to Yapp
Some "F" Words I
Some "F" Words II
What the "H" I
H Words VII
H Words VIII
H Words IX
H Words X
Sublime To.. II
Saturday Words I
Saturday Words II
Saturday Words III
2009 Kids Bee I
2009 Kids Bee II
2009 Kids Bee III
2009 Kids Bee IV
Some Sunday Words I
Bill Long 12/14/08
Beginning with Colatarium, Moving to Hephthemimeral
I suppose that the journey I undertook today in thinking through these two essays is one you haven't yet taken and, after reading this, you may never want to take again, but it has opened up worlds as various as the history of nephrology and the nature of ancient Greek poetic meter. Along the way, however, there are many flowers to bend over and smell--and I hope to bring those to you, too.
Even A Difficult Concept Starts...
with a single word... So, the word that got me started today is a hanger-on from yesterday. I was fascinated there by the word cochlear--a spoon used in some Orthodox and Eastern Christian liturgies to offer the Eucharist to worshipers. But the Century, which often is very good about giving synonyms, gave us this at the end of the cochlear entry : "Also called labis. See intinction, spoon, colatorium, and labis." Well, I looked at labis in the previous essay, I know what intinction is, and I am familiar with a spoon. But I hadn't run into colatorium, so that is what I needed to study. Let's then head there.
Well, to be honest, on the way there I paused on the phrase col arco, which an Italian musical direction (aren't they all in Italian?) meaning "to play with the bow." This is to be distinguished from pizzicato, which means to be plucked with the fingers. You don't run into pizzicato that much these days unless you happen to be a gourmet pizza lover. Pizzicato has several pizza locations now in Portland. It has not yet reached Salem. Come to think of it, I did a little research (very little) on Pizzicato Pizza and discovered it is a Portland-based pizza company. It began in 1989, has about 250 employees with annual sales of $5,400,000. Wait a second. If you divide $5,400,000 by 250 you get less than $23,000 per employee, and that just relates to sales. Something is fishy here, or everyone is part-time (probably) or some/all don't make much money. Well, it isn't my place either to get to the bottom of this or to explore their business, or even why they have their name.
Then I advanced to colatorium and discovered it was ultimately derived from the Latin colare (perfect participle colatus), which means to "strain." We have the word colander in English that captures it. Well, a colature is an act of straining or filtering or a strainer, though colation is the more common word for that. Care should be taken to differentiate colare from colere (to cultivate). And care should also be taken to distinguish colation from collation. Collation is taken from the Latin word confero, and means to "collect together." Collation, I learned, also had a historical meaning in English law, to describe the process of throwing together all property into one pot after the decease of a relative, so that proper distributions could be made. This collation is also called "hotchpot"--you "throw something into hotchpot" for distribution. Oops. I just looked at the word collation, and the Century has 10 distinct definitions for it. I can't go down that rabbit hole here, much as I would like--maybe another time...
So, a colatorium is a strainer, sieve, or filter. One can see online pictures of tea spoons that function in that way; technically they are called colatoria. But I discovered that the word colatorium has an interesting history in nephrology, the study of the kidneys. It is the Galenic term, used for nearly 1000 years, to describe how the kidney looked to the naked eye. This article on the contribution of Italian scientist Marcello Malpighi (b. 1628) to the history of the study of the kidneys, seeks to locate him culturally in an Italy of the early 17th century that was seething with scientific change and then explain a little of the colatorium. First, a historical note. The traditionalists at the time, Aristotelians re-emboldened by the seeming victory over Galileo in the 1630s, were philosophically, and not observationally, driven. Yet, the other side, represented by scientists such as Galileo or Malpighi, was committed to what we now call the scientific method of observation, recording of data and making/testing of hypotheses. As the authors of our article say,
"Given his meticulous nature and great desire to explore the microcosm of the natural sciences, the Galilean lens--later renamed 'microscope' by Cesi-can rightly be considered as an extension of Malpighi's mind."
What the authors mean is that Malphighi wanted to change the focus of science from general principle to minute investigation, and thus, his mind was really an "extended microscope." Then, they have another sentence that should be examined more closely:
"The scientist gave the word anatomy a new meaning, from pure 'dissectio' to 'resolutio ad minitum,' from 'ars dissectrix' to 'ars dissutrix.' Malpighi's 'anatomia' was no longer just 'ana-tome,' but rather 'ana-atome'..."
The root meaning of anatomy is "ana" (up) and "tome" (a cutting). Thus, anatomy was originally simply the dissection of a body. One would cut it up to see how things worked. But with the advent of the microscope and the type of scientist (like Malpighi's) that was in tune with the kind of invention that the microscope brought, one would try to keep the body intact, as much as possible and just look at it real closely. In fact, it would be better if things were kept in place so that the function of a certain organ could better be understood.
Now we are ready to move to the kidneys...