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Saturday, March 10, 2007

Obscure Reference of the Week: Gordian Knot

In lieu of my Recipe Tip of Day (which I will resume in April), I am starting a new series, Obscure Reference of the Week. I take pride in my oft off-tangent way of elucidation. (Anyone that can follow where the heck I'm going in my writing or speech gets beaucoup brownie points with me.) As such, I've been inspired from my last lengthy rumination to expand my horizons and my vocabulary. I don't want to embarrass my son as he and I get older and regress into some Flowers for Algernon retard.

Each week (if I'm diligent) I'll introduce some new word or clause I've come across and don't understand. It'll be a challenge for me to somehow work that phrasing into one of my blogs during the rest of week without forcing it.

This week: Gordian Knot (noun), which according to Dictonary.com means:

  1. any very difficult problem; insoluble in its own terms
  2. an intricate knot tied by Gordius, the king of Phrygia, and cut by the sword of Alexander the Great after he heard that whoever undid it would become ruler of Asia
The how and why: I'm into cosmology (on a very low-fi, populist scale — don't ask me to prove any equations) and a PBS-Nova/Science-Channel slut. I mentioned the "theory of everything" in my blog about real estate studies. I linked that phrase to a recent and fascinating Nova doc on the subject, The Elegant Universe. I decided to actually read one of my hyperlinked references and I came across "Gordian Knot" in Brian Greene's essay. I'm also a fan of ancient Western history and mythology, where the phrase originates.

I will extend the challenge to anyone who chanced upon this site, to add a comment to my blog, working the phrase in themselves. ;-)

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