15 November 2011

'To find or follow a track'

photo: Guy Moreton
'It seems to me,' [Wittgenstein] will recall years later of these months, 'that I had given birth to new paths of thought within me': 'Es kommt mir so vor, als hätte ich damals in mir neue Denkbewegungen geboren.' The word he uses for 'paths of thought', Denkbewegungen, is a coinage that draws attention to itself. It might be translated as 'thought-movements', or 'thought-motions', but with the added implication of thoughts that are brought into being by means of motion along a path (Weg). The coinage recalls the etymology of the English verb 'to learn', which has its roots -- its routes -- in the proto-Germanic term *liznojan, meaning 'to find or follow a track'.
-- from Way Rights by Robert Macfarlane in Archipelago 6, another collection of essays and other works as polished and beautiful as river pebbles. Catchments by John Elder -- a meditation on the work of Tim Robinson in Connemara and Elder's own Green Mountains in Vermont -- is a wonder.

If tracks can be ways of thought then single words can sometimes be marker stones pointing the way.  Among those I have learned or rediscovered today are:

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