Definition of Terms

When starting off, it is important to make sure that everyone is on the same page. At the beginning of any philosophical treatise, it is necessary to define the key terms that the writer plans to use to express his ideas. Otherwise the reader may drastically misinterpret the writer, and all simply because he failed to explain what he meant by the word “is.” It may sound tedious, but setting the proper foundation of definitions can save hours of banging your head against the wall.

Anyway, when Matt and I happened upon the name “Consanguinity,” inspired by the cosmic train-wreck of coincidences last semester, when Matt suddenly found himself in what he described as a “consanguineous vortex,” a phenomenon which, for our family occurs more frequently than you would imagine. After weeks of electronic silence from Northwest Arkansas, it happened that every one of his immediate blood relations communicated with him electronically within a single day’s time. Most thinkers of this age would just attribute such a singularity as mere chance, but as a Covington, I cannot resign myself to such an unsatisfying explanation, particularly when I know for a fact that this strange occurrence in the life of my brother could only have been caused by a consanguineous vortex.

Now you might be thinking at this point that I am not really playing by my own rules, since I started this entry explaining how important it is to define one’s terms before ramping off on some tangent about some strange coincidence regarding the world wide web and I haven’t really answered the question that must be on the tip of your tongue: what exactly is a consanguineous vortex, anyway? Well, let me tell you.

First we must come to an understanding of what the word consanguineous means. Whenever one wants to learn the essential meaning of a word, it is often beneficial to understand the roots from which that word derives. In this case, consanguineous comes from the Latin words (con + sanguis, sanguinis, m.), meaning “with” “blood.” Considering that “sanguis” can also be used to denote a blood-relationship, we can easily arrive at a coherent definition of the word “consanguineous.” How about “with [common] blood-relationship.” (Nota bene: it is a corollary of this line of reasoning that the word “consanguinity,” then would be “the state or property of [common] blood-relationship.”) On the other hand, the word “vortex” is another form of the Latin word (vertex, verticis), which, in turn, derives from the verb “vertere,” meaning “to turn or spin.” So a vortex is a spinning, whirling, or eddying thing, such as a whirlpool or tornado. In the case of my brother Matt, it is used an abstract sense, considering that hurricanes and tornadoes don’t propagate through the Internet, at least not yet.

Although I don’t know exactly what it feels like to be caught up in a whirlpool, I imagine that it inspires a certain feeling of chaos, or being driven by the Fates. I suppose that this sentiment is captured in Vergil’s immortal lines:

Unam, quae Lycios fidumque vehebat Oronten,

ipsius ante oculos ingens a vertice pontus

in puppim ferit: excutitur pronusque magister

volvitur in caput; ast illam ter fluctus ibidem

torquet agens circum et rapidus vorat aequore vertex”

[One ship, which was bearing the Lycians and trust Orontes,

the huge sea bore crashed down upon from its height before the eyes of the man himself;

the ship’s commander was and turned on his head and cast out upside-down;

woe that ship! Four times the VORTEX whirled it, leading it around in the same place

and rapidly swallowed it up.]

Aeneid I.113-7.

Anyway, if you picture Matt in the place of Orontes, thrown out of his ship while his crew is swallowed up by a giant whirlpool, then you probably have a good idea of what he meant when he said that he was experiencing a “consanguineous vortex,” when he received a whirlwind of e-mails from this part of the country in such a short period of time.

Well, as you can guess, Consanguinity is a new endeavor that Matt and I have chosen—no, dared!—to embark upon. As brothers, we thought—nay, deemed!—this title proper, fitting and worthy of our proposed task. We are entirely uncertain as to what exactly we are going to write about on this blog, but we will not let such measly details hinder our progress. In these first few weeks of Consanguinity, you, the readers (probably just members of our family, at least those who have time for such nonsense), will have to put up with us discussing the proper etiquette and protocol for this electronic correspondence. Once we get going, though, you should be able to expect a post from one of us (alternating) each week. Also, I can promise that you won’t have to deal with the kind of tom-foolery that I have set before you in this initial post. I promise to try not to bore you to death, but I cannot personally vouch for my brother. I also vouch to present the finest scholarship in terms of orthography. If I misspell something, please let me know, so that I can correct it.

James, the younger brother.


4 Responses to Definition of Terms

  1. Ann (Mom) says:

    I think it is important to point out that it was me, your mother, who thought of you using consanguineous in the title of your blog. You were trying to think of an appropriate name for the blog, something that would help identify its purpose, when I made the suggestion. Of course, this word was not a part of my vocabulary before the “consanguineous vortex” occurred during the fall. I’m sure I will learn alot other new vocabulary words if I continue to read your blog, and part of it I will probably not understand at all. It should prove to be an interesting read each week.

  2. James says:

    I must admit, mom, that you get the credit for coming up with the title for the blog. Matt and I really weren’t getting anywhere until you suggested using it. I didn’t intend to steal your credit by leaving you out of my entry; it was only for narrative purposes. Anyway, I hope you do learn something (hopefully we’ll learn something, too), and we’ll try to keep it from being hyper-technical. Although it is really fun to use sesquipedalian words, I have found the the clearest writers are those who can convey their point succinctly in the vulgate. Well, I’m glad someone finally posted a comment on my first entry (I was beginning to worry), and I couldn’t resist my counter-comment.


  3. Carol says:

    Gee – this should make for some interesting reading!

  4. Susan Seaman says:

    I will have to use the online etymology dictionary to keep up. Actually, I’ll probably never keep up but will have to eat your intellectual dust.

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