Wallflower Words: Koan (n.)

Wallflower Words is a series of Proof (v.) posts dedicated to beautiful but under-appreciated and seldom-encountered words. Those that are never invited to dance at the parlance party; those that deserve more exposure than is currently afforded by contemporary trends in popular English. This is their turn on the dancefloor.

The Word: Koan (n.)

Huh? In Zen Buddhist theory and study, a koan is a paradox proposed for the purpose of confounding the mind into an unthinking stupor, whereupon the stupefied mind becomes so stupefied as to enter a whole new level of conscious, awakened thought.

As in?

And? Well, at 3.28 on a Tuesday afternoon we could all do with more mental stimulation, lest we be trapped forever in The Long, Dark Tea-Time of The Soul.

We might also like to remember that there is a moral to every story.

We might ALSO like to remember that animated introspective thought might never produce a finite answer.

And I need a name for that process of suddenly realising the answer to 14-down in the cryptic crossword a full 5 hours after I began puzzling over the clue.

See also:

Wallflower Words: Liminal (adj.)
Wallflower Words: Saturnine (a./ n.)
Wallflower Words: Quantise (v.)
Wallflower Words: Vitriol (n.)

Through The Looking Glass: Where Coffee = Sleep

Comparing coffee preferences to sleeping habits is probably the most ironic analogy ever made. But outside the asylum, through the looking glass, only the nonsensical truly makes sense. And so, I propose the following theory:

If coffee = sleep, then…


A) A macchiato (a shot of espresso with a mere dash of foam) is the coffee equivalent of “a short but intense nap between 12:30am and 6:30am, as popularised by yogis, yoginis, truck drivers and insomniacs”.

Starbucks Venti Frappuccino

B) A Starbucks Venti Mocha Frappuccino (20 ounces of cream, caffeine & chocolate) is the “persistent vegetative state” of the coffee world.

Somewhere in between lies CATATONIA, which is what happens when you have an incurable weakness for both A) and B) (as regards both the coffee and the sleep).

“Patients with catatonia may experience an extreme loss of motor skills or even constant hyperactive motor activity. Catatonic patients will sometimes hold rigid poses for hours and will ignore any external stimuli. Patients with catatonic excitement can die of exhaustion if not treated. Patients may also show stereotyped, repetitive movements.

They may show specific types of movement such as waxy flexibility, in which they maintain positions after being placed in them by someone else, or gegenhalten (lit. “counterhold”), in which they resist movement in proportion to the force applied by the examiner. They may repeat meaningless phrases or speak only to repeat what the examiner says….

Catatonic excitement is a state of constant purposeless agitation and excitation. Individuals in this state are extremely hyperactive, although the activity seems to lack purpose.

…The only way to cure it is to keep the patient constantly active and the activities must have an end goal or they will not work. Stress must be reduced by not pressurising, keeping life predictable and by limiting choice as making choices is very stressful for catatonics.”

Wikipedia (of course)

And on that note, I REALLY have to get back to writing this thesis. 13 days and counting…

{images via smh.com.au and wikimedia commons }

Hellvetica (and the fundamental interconnectedness of all things*)

“Helvetica as Metallica”, by Yann Serandour, via The Triumph of Bullshit, via FFFFOUND!, via Any Given Name, via VVVORK.

Severally reblogging like this really puts the “inter” in interwebs.

“Rather than connecting all things eventually, the Internet makes us realize that all things are, by nature, interconnected”


* “The fundamental interconnectedness of all things” was how Douglas Adams defined holisticism in Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency. It’s such an apt summation that whenever I encounter the word “holistic” all I hear/read is “the fundamental interconnectedness of all things”. It’s like a special breed of babel fish, translating regular words into the more lyrical phraseology of Douglas Adams.

**Incidentally, I first saw this lovely iota of wisdom as a retweeted retweet via @wildmonkeysects, via @BinarySeed.

Earworms and Mind Wanderings

The Sprout and The Bean, by Joanna Newsom

Lose Yourself in Melbourne

Last heard: in the ‘Lose Yourself in Melbourne’ TV ad.

Right now, deadlines are swooping down upon me
like the vengeful fighter jet-turned-eagle
in Douglas Adams’ The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul.

So wandering along cobblestones
to the tune of harps/nonsensical lyrics,
wearing a pretty dress
and carrying nought but a big ball of red wool
sounds like a charming idea.

First published at tumblr proof (v.)

Outside the Asylum

First published at tumblr Proof (v.)

“If you took a couple of David Bowies and stuck one of the David Bowies on top of the other David Bowie…

… then attached another David Bowie to the end of each of the arms of the upper of the first two David Bowies and wrapped the whole business up in a dirty beach robe you would then have something which didn’t exactly look like John Watson, but which those who knew him would find hauntingly familiar. John “Wonko The Sane” Watson is tall and gangly.

He lives in an inside-out house overlooking the Pacific Ocean. That is, to visit you park on the carpet. There’s a sign on the wall that reads, “Come Outside.” He considers the rest of the world to be “The Asylum,” because it seemed to him that any civilization that had so far lost its head as to need to include a set of detailed instructions for use in a package of toothpicks was no longer a civilization in which he could live and stay sane.

— Douglas Adams, So Long And Thanks For All The Fish