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Saturday, December 27, 2014

The Great Detritus

In common usage, the word detritus is said to come from the French détritus, from Latin detritus, past participle of deterere, and this seems to satisfy most scholars. However, the etymology is seldom pursued to its source, the ancient Greek philosopher from whose name the word was abstracted.

Understandably, much of the philosophy of Detritus has disintegrated. It is the purpose of this essay to reconstruct it by reverse-engineering. Here is an example of reverse-engineering:


What you see is Jibboom Street Bridge, a truss bridge spanning the confluence of two great rivers. American River joins the Sacramento River at this location, much as the Electromagnetic Continuum merges with the Gravitational Continuum to compose our Cosmos. Jibboom Bridge was built in the 1930s with its central truss motorized to swivel on a central pivot of concrete and steel. This allowed tall ships to pass and worked fine for decades until  it got stuck and several vessels were reduced to detritus upon it.

If you peer under its right half, you can see the lower decks of the sternwheeler, Delta King, moored at the lower end of Sacramento City.  King is tall and cannot pass Jibboom Street any more. Its cosmos has shrunk, but has it deteriorated toward detritus? Here is another picture:

This photo was taken two days ago, Christmas Day, upon the gang plank boarding Delta King. In the foreground are Norma and our friends, Wendy and Dan. They are all two or three years my junior, yet there I am in the back looking like a multiple of their combined ages. Was I placed behind because I am, in the spirit of the great Detritus, a detriment to their youthfulness?

I suppose these musings might have to do with turning 65 years old this month, and having long worked outdoors which turned me to jerky, but secretly I look into mirrors with some satisfaction that I have aged every minute of my life. Away from mirrors, except for those employed for purposes of internal reflection upon the Cosmos, I delight in having made up the great Greek philosopher Detritus, and consigned him beyond either terminus of general existence, without the least detrimental effect upon my sanity or longevity --even though such a luminary would greatly simplify philology.

Happy New Year!
 

27 comments:

  1. Hi Geo - good to see you both with your friends ... we age sprinkling with lines and wrinkles as the great artist desires ... I don't for now feel like a rotting organism ... I have creative ideas ... my brain cells work ... and I do look forward to an interesting 2015 - Happy New Year to us all .. cheers Hilary

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    1. Thanks, Hilary! I too have high hopes for the new year and best wishes to you.

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  2. The advantage of physical maturity (only one?) is that we no longer look as bland as once we did. We show....maturity....attraction....wisdom...........wrinkles! Thus there is always something new to explore. Oh to be a mere stripling of 65 years again! Ah me!!

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    1. What a very positive way to think of aging! Sometimes I feel so mature and wise that I have to go lie down. These are good times!

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  3. Dear Geo.,
    Happy Birthday to you! You are my most interesting finding in blogland this year: your always surprising way to see the world from a very different angle, play with words and meaning, always warm-hearted, keen and wonderful = young. Thank you for that!
    And now I have to be rude for the first time this year (intentionally, I mean - Detrius happily devoured all the other occasions I might have put my foot in...): you are daft when you criticise your photo - you are looking good! (It is the harsh sun that puts shadows on a face, your friends knowingly incline their heads - and I, also world-wise, prefer candles near my face :-)

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    1. Dear Brigitta, I visit your blog for much the same reason --and for its header reminding us all we are "pretty and witty". I will take your good advice about posing and try to become more photogenic (how close should the candles be to my face?)

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  4. Best keep aging Geo....the alternative doesn't bear considering. Happy birthday..

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    1. It was a very happy birthday and I shall try my best not to age all at once.

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  5. Detritus or not, I would flatly refuse to become a teenager again if the choice were offered to me. I have earned my wrinkles and my grey hair. And am more comfortable with them than I ever was with the supple perfection I did not recognise.
    Happy New Year.

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    1. Last year I fell off a pruning ladder and landed unhurt, which is as nimble and supple as I care to be. However, if there had been teenagers under me I would have asked them to catch me. Happy 2015 to you too!

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  6. Geo, you have yet again managed to challenge my increasingly-feeble mind, while simultaneously ticking my funny bone.

    You were born in December?? Welcome to the club. My BDay was on the 13th. Unlucky.

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    1. In Italy, 13 is considered a lucky number.

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    2. I hereby declare 13 a lucky number in Tennessee as well.

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  7. Did I forget to say Happy Birthday?
    Have a glorious new year!

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    1. Kind Jon, you too! And if those yellow eyes in your new yard belonged to a bear, don't go out and play with it.

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  8. Happy birth month to you. You have remained younger than me however. I do not feel any particular age... I am simply me. I have a suspicion that you feel the same. Detritus cannot touch people who do not recognize "him".

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    1. Your suspicion is correct, Emma. Next Greek philosopher I invent will be more pleasant.

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  9. Congratulations on another orbit! Though you are my chronological junior, I'm sure you too understand the pervasive influence of extended exposure to gravity. Your line about being turned to jerky is hilarious. I must use it and will give proper attribution.
    Cheers!

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    1. Thanks, Tom. Gravity pulling things down is not so bad really. I mean, what if it pulled everything sideways?!

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  10. Hope you had a wonderful birthday, Geo
    It's always a joy to read you

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    1. Delightful Margie, the pleasure is mine.

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  11. Happiest of Belated Birthday Wishes, Geo! You're still a handsome young man. And as for the great Greek philosopher, if he didn't exist, it was necessary for a man to have invented him. I think I should go sculpt a bust. :)

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    1. Thanks, Austan! "Cogito ergo sum excogitari"--Detritus

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  12. A happy face is rarely bogged down by years- only made more rare and special :-) When I was about the grand old age of 16 I envied my mother her weathered hands- they had character and stories and mine looked dreadfully blank. They are much improved these days. xxx

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    1. There is indeed a quiet and gradual surprise in recognizing the helpful hands of those we love in our own hands. When I look at the hands of children, I marvel at how they will change and strengthen from all the good work they are destined to do.

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  13. Happy birthday, Geo. You look great and you must have taken very good care of your brain over the years. Look how fluid, how supple, now nimble....

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