As you might have guessed it is raining here a little, I am now just shy of halfway through “Le Chamanisme” by Eliade. Because he is dealing with, inter alia, Siberian shamanism, I am starting to pick up some rather weird vocabulary concerning bones, dead spirits and the prevalent fauna on the Steppes. I can interpolate most of the words from context, but I do have to look things up. Seems to me learning by interpolation is perhaps a more natural way of learning a language than rote. I did not know that the rite of initiation for some Caribbean shamans involved having chillies, scotch bonnet chillies, rubbed in the eyes. We found some of these from French Guyana in the local supermarket and they are super-volcanic-plus-plus. It is a wonder the would-be shamans were not blinded.
This morning I was struck by a sub-heading in the Guardian:
“If I wasn’t autistic, would my encyclopedic knowledge of dinosaurs be a problem?”
I commented to the wife that at one stage I knew not only the normal names, but the Latin names, record weights and habits of all the fish of the British Isles both in fresh and salt water. There are other things that I am like dry blotting paper for.
“If I wasn’t autistic, would my encyclopaedic knowledge of molecular spectroscopy be a problem?”
Anything out of the ordinary is seen to be freakish.
“Is my encyclopaedic knowledge of football results and league table positions normal or a tad autistic?”
Who defines what is normal and what is freaky?
I have just ordered from Congo, the new online bookstore, a copy of the I Ching in French. Already I can see some different nuances in the meanings. Maybe next is:
“I Ging. Das Buch der Wandlungen – von Richard Wilhelm”
That should keep me busy till I pop my clogs.