Semantic Dictionary

Recreating (and advancing) pk’s censored domains: & / Teaching / Scholarship / pk Glossary /

I used typewriters, both electric and electronic, plus writing pads to author my novels in the 1980s: then a Commodore 64, then (goodness gracious) a Toshiba laptop (obtained by less than 100% honesty on anyone’s side: but that’s a different story). The Toshiba was vastly more powerful and easier to use than the C64, however vanishingly less powerful or easy than this old OS X Mac: and new kinds of pk files emerged under its spell. My writing became rapid, prolific, maybe even further out than it had been. And I started files at the drop of a hat that once would have been considered, but not gotten to — when pencil and paper and file folders and cabinets were involved.

My novels flowed, as did my diary, my journal, my correspondence, new projects, boundless ambitions. And in the mid-’80s I began this pk glossary, which I called with only partial irony my Semantic Dictionary. Definitions, daffynitions, developments … ironies, sarcasms … penetrations.

I’ll move them here alphabetically, initially grouping them through several posts, then editing as seems appropriate.

  • Authorsmanship had several references to the concept. I’ll gather and condense them. But, in a word: the lazy reviewer wants to review the book but doesn’t want to read it. The rule of thumb is to find out what the author is known for, then dismiss his latest effort as inadequate in his forte: The trouble with DH Lawrence is that he underestimated gender dynamics.

    The reviewer hasn’t read the book: and he’s betting that his public hasn’t either. Exposure will never gain momentum in a self-deluding society. The illiterate are safe: except from truth.

  • BC / AD

    Western civilization divides the calendar BC and AD. Is the division symmetrical? Sensible?

    One sort of assumes a symmetry. We all know that BC was roughly two thousand years ago: therefore, it seems that time BC must also be about two thousand years. Wrong. But then contemporary civilization doesn’t want to know much about “ancient” “history,” wants even less to know “pre-history” (where pre-history represents a zillion times more time than “history”!) Indeed, many of us don’t want to know much about history before US: roughly two hundred years. Indeed, many of us can hardly remember more than two years ago.

    Anyway, BC we all know “means” “Before Christ.” Again: symmetry: if the “B” means “Before,” why then the “A” must mean “After.”

    The Church says that AD means Anno Domini: year of our Lord.

    Wait! Where’s the symmetry? Before Christ is English; Anno Domini is Latin. What’s with the mixing of languages? What does that mean anyway, “year of our Lord”? Did the Kingdom of God arrive? Did Christ come back? Then how come we are what we are? behave the way we do?

    pk says that the symmetry impulse has it right after all: if we read “AD” as After Damnation.

    2011 02 10 I note: I was fuming about BC / AD usage well before the mid-1980s. The above was scribbled in the ’90s and found its way to / Teaching / Scholarship / Glossary / by the early 2000s. But usage has increasingly changed to Before/After Common Era. By the time we’re all dying from cancer a lot of people will have given up smoking.

    I used to hope that learning would take place in time to save our biosphere; now I’m resigned that it won’t.

  • C

  • Democracy

    Rule by the lowest common denominator of kleptocrat: swindlers, thieves, deceivers of all (including self).

    But that’s still not good enough: so the alpha kleptocrats cheat on top of that.

  • E

  • Entertainment

    Entertainment: the culture’s evolving myths parading as fictions. St. George slays the dragon. We never get tired of it. Mammal victorious over reptile.

    Come on, that fight was won seventy millions years ago, and not by any necessary great virtue on the part of the mammals. It’s like watching Hollywood movies in the 1950s: the US beats Hitler: again, and again, and again.

    The cowboy kills the Indian: again, and again. Only now the cowboy saves the Indian (the Indian is not permitted to save himself: he didn’t, so how can we imagine it?) See? Now it’s the bad guys who killed the Indians; not us! It’s the bad guys who addicted them to alcohol, tricked them out of more land via treaties, laws, each as counterfeit and worthless as the last …

    How come we wouldn’t be entertained by myths of governments controlling publication of money, news, fact … all of it phoney? Licencees, certificates, diplomas …?

    How would kleptocrats recognize real money if they saw it? Or a real fact?

    The most interesting information issues from how our myths change under our noses. For centuries, the men all beat up half the women, but killed themselves trying to protect the warlord’s women. Smack her around, Cagny! Now the women beat up half the men: kick them in the balls to no one’s objection. We cast some ninety pound anorexic and a bunch of beefy gymnasts who can throw themselves over backwards out the window while the mannequin poses. What’s going on?

    That’s all I’m taking time for at the moment: but feel free to add your own. Offer to share them here, if you like them.

  • Evil

    Whatever doesn’t share our biases

  • F

  • Freedom

    Can the word freedom sensibly be used to mean anything other than absence of visible restraint? What invisible restraints may yet remain can never be known.

    I would also like to add that historically “freedom” has been nothing but a relative term. The early Christian church had freed itself from the Temple of Jerusalem. It took Henry VIII and Martin Luther to free us from the Catholic Church. Now what can free us from the “freer” churches? George Washington helped free us from King George. Now how do we get free of Washington DC? Ivan Illich, I, and a few others failed to free us from the school system. A better liberator may yet succeed. Or may it be that he’ll just be luckier? Born later? Born after the seeds have been long sown? Luther was far from the first to give the Church a swift kick in the teeth. (Not that that was, in Luther’s case, his intention.)

    None are more hopelessly enslaved than those
    who falsely believe they are free.


    Further, I add the clarification that freedom, like compass points, like good and bad, are directional (see Spectra below: Gloss S) terms. However good something is, something else can be better. However bad, something else can be worse. However free you are, you’re still bound by something. However far south you are, something else can be more southerly. If you stood precisely on the north pole, your knees would still be north of your feet, Polaris would still be north of your uplifted hand. Were your uplifted arm a galaxy width in length, the North Star would be south of your hand!

    Freedom, north, good … are never x-things.

    Freedom and government are incompatible concepts. Populations tolerate governments in their flight from the very real dangers of natural freedom. The trouble is, once the governments have all the weapons, control all the resources, control the labeling and mislabeling, control the “education,” tolerance is compulsory. That is, the population is compelled to tolerate the government, and with it, restrictions to freedom. Oh, you can speak, or try to, while goons hold you down to cut out your tongue. And the goons can be relied on to believe, what they’re told, that they represent God, that their violence is for “good.”

  • H

    Henotheism is a term which denotes worship of one god at a time but not a single god.

    We know polytheism. We know monotheism. We know monogamy, and polygamy. So how about henogamy?

    Imported from PaulKnatz blog, to be edited:
    In the mid-1980s I began jotting sketches for a Semantic Dictionary. In the 1990s they joined / / Teaching / Scholarship / Glossary /. I’ll repost them here: 2008 January, alphabetically, squeening them into one “month”: fitting things in by aging the blog.

    The decades are rolling by and I have yet to glean understanding from a single person with regard to the Korzybskian / Batesonian / pk’ian ironies of Semantic Dictionary.

    About pk

    Seems to me that some modicum of honesty is requisite to intelligence. If we look in the mirror and see not kleptocrats but Christians, we’re still in the same old trouble.
    This entry was posted in Glossary, pk Teaching, scholarship. Bookmark the permalink.

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