Bill Long 10/28/04
The word include has a simple and straightforward derivation. It is from the Latin includo and means, quite naturally, to "enclose" or "surround." At common law a "close," derived from "claudo," was an "enclosed area" that constituted your property. Thus, one of the earliest examples of the tort of trespass was the violation of "breaking the close" (quare clausum fregit).
Adding the "In" to "Claudo"
When we add an "in" to our verb, we have the nice Latin word "inclusio," one of whose significations is literary. An inclusio is a literary device, an enveloping of sorts, where the concept at the beginning and end of a section is the same, thus "including" or "enveloping" the intervening material. By being aware of inclusio, one is more aware to the structure of literary works. I first ran into the word inclusio in biblical studies around 30 years ago. Scholars would talk about inclusio as a device used by (especially Hebrew Bible) authors, and an online article shows how inclusio functions in Jeremiah. There is no reason why you couldn't use the term to describe a speaking method, also, since the traditional (but unknown) rhetorical term of anacephalaiosis (summing up) only partially captures the concept.
Inclusions in Gemstones
But what has more fascinated me lately is the way the term inclusion is used by gemologists. Inclusions may be defined as "foreign matter (solid, fluid or gaseous) in gemstones, which was trapped during the host crystal's growth, or crystallized out of enclosed supersaturated solutions, or resulted form mechanical pressure, tension, or structural alteration." Inclusions are something other than the original crystal structure of the stone, and may consist of other crystals caught as it grew, air bubbles, or even bits of non-crystallized material.
The picture created by this definition deserves pause. As the Actor Morgan Freeman observed in Shawshank Redemption, geology is nothing more than the application of "pressure over time." And so, we envision a gemstone forming over time, embedded deep in the earth where no life is and where darkness, dankness and cold prevails. Just as the Psalmist imagines himself being secretely wrought in the depths of the earth (Ps. 139), so were these gems made. Some managed to escape their formation process relatively "pure," with no inclusions, and as a result, are more highly prized and seemingly more valuable to collectors today. But others, far more, absorbed the detritus of life around them, enclosed around them, and now possess all kinds of inclusions.
Master microphotographer John Koivula, of the Gemological Institute of America, whose work Photoatlas of Inclusions in Gemstones is the classic in the field, has graciously put online some striking photomicrographs of inclusions in sapphires and rubies. One of the photos fascinating to me is of a formation of "epigenetic (i.e., outside-influenced or caused) rutile (i.e., minute needles) needles in a natural untreated sapphire from Sri Lanka. 20X." You could spend your life studying inclusions.
Thinking about Inclusions
But even more interesting to me than the science and measurement of inclusions * is what I call the "psychology of
[* There is a "clarity grading" for colored gemstones that seeks to assess clarity of different kind of gemstones based on the nature of the inclusions they enclose. It would take us far afield to go into it, but there are three types of gemstones and eight levels of clarity that are assessed, so that a type 1 aquamarine, which is slightly included might be a clearer than a type III emerald with very very slightly included. You can learn more about this grading process here.]
inclusions." We, like the gemstones that are around us, pick up all kinds of detritus in life. Sometimes it is something picked up as we grow, as the crystallized gem encloses another crystal as it grows. Sometimes the incorporated material is quite foreign to us, like a stone or rock of different character. But it becomes more deeply embedded in us than our internal organs. At least they sometimes can be removed, but our inclusions often cannot.
But just as the inclusions make the sapphire what it is, so our inclusions -- the myriad slights and slings of arrows absorbed, the diversity of images seen and events experienced, the loves and losses of life-- become, as it were, our inclusions. They add a dimension to life that can only be picked up by a microphotographer, with fine lens, who patiently tries to capture the essence of those inclusions in our life. Some might say that we need a physician of the soul, but my study of gems has made me long for a microphotographer of my life's inclusions.
Conclusion--the Value of Inclusions
But there is something that doesn't quite fit here. Gemologists say that the purer the stone, that is, the fewer inclusions, the more valuable the stone. But why should this be so? Maybe we instinctively value them more because we wish that life could be so crystalline, so unsullied, so amazingly pure as a clear gem. Thus, I am suggesting a psychological explanation for the economic realities of gemstones. We want pure gemstones because we wish we had a pure life. But, life is more interesting with inclusions, don't you think? Why just buy what you wish for but never can hope to attain? Why not purchase the stone that reflects life rather than holds out a promise of what shall never be? Give me the plaid, the twisted colors of the twine, the mottled hues rather than so-called purities of nature, for they do nothing else but fuel illusions.
Copyright © 2004-2010 William R. Long