Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Cuteness, Intellectual Solace, and a Correction

We're not usually humble at the Privy Counsel, contriteness being contrary to editorial policy, but we know when it's time to admit that someone has a bloody good point. Like with this whole cute palaver, for instance. You will remember our razor-sharp jibe at Intellectual Friend in our last post, when we questioned "Intellectual Friend's use of the word 'cute' with a severity not tempered by a long and fond friendship". We still maintain that Intellectual Friend's way of expressing himself was vulgar and loathsome in the extreme, but we do acknowledge the validity of the subsequent justification, it being based on sound etymology and philosophical musings. It is also a sheer bloody joy to read. We don't know what your life has been like lately, but at Privy Counsel HQ we've been plagued by all manner of vile things like illness, neurotic outbursts, and grammar. This missive from Intellectual Friend, however, soothed our soul and enveloped us in a cloud of bliss and joyfulness. You're welcome:

Ha! Quite cool! And the etymological roots of the word paragon [we referred to Danish Friend and Intellectual Friend as "paragons of romance"] sprout from the sense 'sharp'. Which might seem like a gratuitous and worthless remark, except that I'm about to try to make a subtle, potentially intellectually amusing, point, or two; let's see if I get there... 
So, I don't know what has bitten me into using the word 'cute' in that Norwegian toilet blurb of mine, and it is probably reprehensible on most accounts and from most angles. Nevertheless, a posteriori, as a post factum kind of commentary, if not justification nor excuse ('a posteriori' probably suggests in fact not only spuriousness but also arse-talking), I was vaguely amused to discover that 'cute' is an aphetic form of 'acute' and that it was used, originally, in the sense 'sharp', too! ('Sharp, quick-witted' etc.) (And I would further surmise that cute is, via acute, actually cognate with the -agon of paragon.) Though of course apheticism is presumably reprehensible in itself, and one is not surprised to find that this particular aphetic development, along with its later semantic developments and crazy perversions, came from overseas. Though, and this may return us to less theoretico-linguistic and more down-to-earth matters, in this case to that earth-embedded Norwegian fjell-toilet, one might be also amused by one of the OED's citations for the word cute, which perhaps evidences a semantically transitional stage, and optionally one might also be intrigued by its potentially uncanny relevance to all this irrelevant rambling:
1900 Daily News 15 Nov. 6/5 A small and compact wooden house, what the Americans would call ‘cute’.

So as you see, Intellectual Friend's use of the word "cute" was entirely justified, at least in hindsight, and with a good deal of learned ramblings attached.

Our good news and general cheerfulness don't end there! We've got a highly encouraging picture of a young man, the son of good friends of ours, tending to his hygiene in a most laudable manner! This enthusiasm for handwashing is surely to be encouraged in these times of influenza and probably (it wouldn't surprise us if it were lurking) cholera, and if one is lucky enough to have access to a mixer tap, then so much the better!
In the interests of privacy we have taken the liberty of adding certain, er, accoutrements to the young man's appearance. This has the added effect of helpfully showing his parents what he will look like when he's grown up. Lo and behold!

When the little fellow is a bit older we hope he may enjoy
the moral of our exciting drama Alien vs. Predator: Blood, Gore and Mixer-Taps,
which features, in a minor role, a young person tending to their hygiene.

Wasn't that great! Let's have a festive video, to celebrate how much better everything feels now!
Blaze Foley's Big Cheeseburgers and Good French Fries:

Related Reading
Norwegian Wood
Alpine Escapism
Academic Excesses
Snyrt, Snyrt: Landnámssýningin

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