Friday, March 03, 2006

Quote of the (Fri)day

Things have gone dark around these parts lately for no real reason other than an apathy for writing. Some weeks the news just seems to all blend together and loses its lustre of originality. Happily, one of the luxuries of whimsical commentary is that the breaks can be as long lasting as rejuvenation dictates.

In any event, this could prove an eventful evening. The Nova Scotia Liberals host their AGM at the Westin tonight, so plans to pop into the Hospitality Suites for (free) booze, smoked salmon, and political conversation govern the plans. Shall be the first occasion of mine to meet the likes of Ignatieff, Rae, and Dryden (among others) and size them up in person. Belinda will also be making an appearance - hilarious that I last bumped into her two years ago at the same venue, though then she was then stumping for the Conservative leadership. The more things change...

So - here's wishing us all a most serendipitous weekend. Appropriate, then, that the first written usage and origin of that favored word serve as this week's quote:

This discovery indeed is almost of that kind which I call serendipity, a very expressive word, which as I have nothing better to tell you, I shall endeavour to explain to you: you will understand it better by the derivation than by the definition. I once read a silly fairy tale called The Three Princes of Serendip: as their highnesses travelled, they were always making discoveries, by accident and sagacity, of things which they were not in quest of: for instance, one of them discovered that a mule blind of the right eye had travelled the same road lately, because the grass was eaten only on the left side, where it was worse than on the right – now do you understand serendipity?

- Horace Walpole, in a letter to Horace Mann dated January 28, 1754

Though this initial definition of serendipity has been expanded to describe any fortunate discoveries made by accident, there is something to be said for Walpole's Sherlocksian notion - that proper serendipitious activity requires also the conscious application of intelligence to the scene. Something to keep in mind.

The Three Princes of Serendip. Accidental Sagacity. Ah, what a wonderful language - worty of the infinite possibilities of the imagination.


Blogger Shari said...

I do adore when I know what I'm going to read before my eyes ever skim the site, or book. This makes sense to me on many levels.

My favorite quoted Friday so far. If only I read it on it's day.

2:30 PM  

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