necromantic

In my very eventful workday, I was reading up on one of my favorite American composers, Aaron Copland on Wikipedia. And the hypertext ADD kicked in when I read a word I’d never seen before:

One of Copland’s first significant works upon returning from his studies in Paris was the necromantic ballet Grohg. (Wikipedia)

At first, the mention of a necromantic ballet conjured up (no pun intended) images of zombie love stories danced out in tutus. I clicked through and it brought me to the entry on necromancy. Clearly, the word meant of necromancy, and the inclusion of “romantic” was somewhat coincidental. But I decided to do a little etymology-surfing anyway. I confess, I’m a word nerd (what else does one do with a nearly completed degree in creative writing?) and I find a great deal of pleasure in discovering the origins and various uses of words by spending countless moments browsing the OED (or, Oxford English Dictionary, for you non-nerds).

Though I didn’t come across any profound connections between the words, I did find an interesting juxtaposition of the word necromancy in the quotations section.

1827 J. C. HARE & A. W. HARE Guesses at Truth (1859) 174 Much of this world’s wisdom is still acquired by necromancy,–by consulting the oracular dead. . .1995 NetGuide Sept. 127/2 The necromancy of the Internet is tempting.

It’s a connection I hadn’t yet made, though I acknowledge that literacy has the effect of recording the knowledge of those who have passed. Necromancy is a fun little metaphor for literacy, and now for electracy also.

“Zomballerina” made with apologies to the following Flickr users (all sources licensed under Creative Commons Non-Commercial Attribution license):
delicatimpermeable
pareeerica
myphotoshopbrushes
istolethetv
pinksherbet

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About abi nighthill

Abi has a BA in Poetry from Columbia College Chicago.
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