Friday, April 20, 2007

The Jabberwocky

As I was whining to a very good friend of mine today after my 310 final, she asked me a pretty simple question that set me off in a complete different direction. "What does vorpal mean?" I stopped dead in my rant, stumped. I'd heard the word before, one of Lewis Carroll's drug induced ramblings in "Through the Looking Glass," but I honestly had no idea what it meant. So, I employed some research skills. I looked it up in OED, MW, and The final one had an entry, "deadly" but it didn't justify the definition, and all it said about the etymology was the Lewis Carrol had made it up. I wasn't satisfied, so I tried wikipedia, which gave a pretty lame answer saying that it was an adjective indicating an enhanced ability to behead. So, where to look next? JSTOR. No dice. So, if anybody has any idea, with a decent justification, what "vorpal" actually means... I'll bake the first person to give me a good answer one of my chocolate experiments. Or maybe a pumpkin experiment. I'll let you decide.

Anyway, I took the opportunity to read the classic poem, "The Jabberwocky," where the word is first mentioned. And I realized something. I want a Vorpal Blade. Something that I can just use to go "One, Two! One, Two!" and "Snicker Snack" to remove the challenges and obstacles from my path. I would have loved a vorpal blade for my 310 final. Another one for my 330 final would be even hotter. I could snicker snack the head off of any jabberwock, and it would be great. Instead though, I've relegated myself to actually having to work through challenges, and to deal with things on my own.

We all have jabberwocks in our lives. Little things that keep us from going out and doing the things that we want/need to do, from living our lives to the fullest. Sometimes we blog about it. Sometimes we aren't so eager to allow certain aspects of ourselves to be seen. Some people are clingy, and need to be in constant contact with other people. Some people aren't initiators and get left out of what everybody else is doing. Some people convince themselves that the reason their non-initiator friends don't initiate contact with them is because their friends don't want to talk to them, or that they themselves are somehow deficient. And there will always be that voice in the back of your head saying, "beware the jabberwock." For the most part, that's what we do. We refuse to challenge these parts of ourselves and overcome them.

Somewhere, there is a vorpal blade for everybody to slay their personal jabberwocks. Somewhere, we can find the strength and tools to overcome these parts of ourselves. But that isn't easy, and for some of us, the journey seems long and arduous. Some people seem to have it all made and taken care of. For the rest of us, we just keep trekking, and maybe, someday, hopefully, we'll be able to appreciate ourselves.

Oh, and I had a Pomegranate Paradise at Jamba Juice today. It was to die for. So tart, yet so sweet, and just so good. And it's an all fruit smoothie so it's (kind of) good for you!


playasinmar said...

In the Munchkin by Steve Jackson Games, there is a card named "Vorpal Blade". According to the text in the card it gives a +3 bonus to the user and "an extra +10 against anything that starts with the letter J. Don't ask why. Don't ask what Vorpal means, either."

Stephen said...

Here I thought I was the only loser that played Munchkin!

playasinmar said...

Munchkin is da bomb!

Da Bomb is also a card in Star Munchkin.

Star Munchkin lets you sacrifice Red Shirts if you can't kill a monster.

Munchkin is da bomb!

Kengo Biddles said...

From the OED per this site:

Here is the OED2 definition (fresh off our newly installed online oed2

1 match
vorpal ('v&revc.:&revr.p&schwa.l), a. A word invented by `Lewis Carroll'
app. with the sense `keen, deadly'; also in subsequent allusive uses.
1871 L. CARROLL Through Looking-Glass i. 22 The vorpal blade went
snicker-snack! 1941 AUDEN New Year Let. II. 44 Wave at the mechanized
barbarian The vorpal sword of an agrarian. 1970 [see FRABJOUS a.].

and also:

I also checked _Chambers_ (1983) last night, and again I paraphrase:

_vorpal_: A word coined by Lewis Carroll to describe a sword; now used to mean 'sharp edged'.

So there you go.

When do I get my chocolate and/or pumpkin experiment of goodness and wonder?