I picked up a couple of new vocabulary words, kenosis and plerosis. Being a lifelong agnostic has left me a little out of the loop regarding a lot of theological lingo. These terms were appropriated by Richard Nanian in his doctoral thesis regarding poetic function. I thought it was an interesting idea. Language meaning moves between two limits: perfect emptiness and perfect everythingness. Midway between, I suppose, would be Lockean language (one word = one meaning). Movement toward nothingness is kenosis, movement toward totality is plerosis. Nanian is drawing on these concepts from Sewell, who called Mallarmé the poet of nothingness and Rimbaud the poet of everythingness. Nanian’s thesis is that the Romantics were mostly plerotic poets. This mode of explanation is much in keeping with Yeats’s gyres and system (on a two-dimensional level) in A Vision.

I get really involved with language, and as others have noted, and always like to look at specific words. My post this morning made me wonder about the history of clitoris. The first citation in the OED is from 1615; writers waited until the Renaissance to label it? I suppose that makes a certain amount of sense. What is fun is the description of labia, though:

1615 CROOKE Body of Man 226 These Ligaments..do degenerate into a broad and sinewy slendernes..vppon which the Clitoris cleaueth and is tyed.

The proposed etymology of clitoris is from a Greek verb meaning “to shut.” But I digress; I really wanted to save Nanian’s diagrams

Starting with Sewell . . .

Progressing to a rather innovative folding of the spectrum. . .

Logic and nightmares are closely related? I can buy that!

Resulting in the boundary conditions for language.