[Buddha-l] the nestorian stele of chang'an

Richard Hayes rhayes at unm.edu
Thu Dec 20 10:50:36 MST 2007

On Thu, 2007-12-20 at 10:52 -0500, curt at cola.iges.org wrote:

> I think the relatively modern neologism "psychosis" is very different
> from the attic Greek "psykhosis".

Well, this shows us that one should never make a pun around an academic.
I should have learned that from my grandfather, who was a professor of
Greek and Latin before he became a Unitarian Socialist. Every time
someone made a pun in his company, he delivered a ten-minute
disquisition on the etymology and semantic histories of the relevant
words. Alas, it was his destiny to be surrounded by descendants who
could not resist making puns. (How else were we going to learn so much
about the history of vocabulary items in the Engrish rengrich?)

Not that my grandfather was interested only in etymology. He once
shocked his unmarried sister (whom no one dared to call an old spinster)
by playing the word "cunt" in a Scrabble game. When she objected that
the word was obscene, he delivered a twenty-minute lecture on the topic
of perceived obscenity as a function of class wars. The argument was
that the educated classes arbitrarily deigned words with Greek and Latin
provenience to be acceptable and condemned words used by uneducated
folks as obscene and unacceptable. (He was well into his Socialist phase
by then.)

Personally, I found my grandfather's tendency to lecture other people so
annoying that I have spent the remainder of my life following his
example. I even founded a discussion list on Buddhism just so I could
subject people to verbal abuse.

> Metempsychosis was well established in ancient "western" thought.

Right. It's still a stupid idea.

Richard Hayes
Department of Philosophy
University of New Mexico

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