Friday, May 11, 2018

Friday Ramble - Radical

This week's word is radical, a natural choice for this madcap season when wildflowers are popping up all over the place, when we are planting (or considering planting) packets of seeds and flats of flowers, herbs and veggies into our gardens.  It comes to us through the late Latin rādīcālis meaning having roots, and the Old English wrotan meaning to root, gnaw or dig up, both entities originating in the early Indo-European wrad meaning branch or root.

Synonyms include: fundamental, basic, basal, bottom, cardinal, constitutional, deep-seated, essential, foundational, inherent, innate, intrinsic, native, natural, organic, original, primal, primary, primitive, profound, thoroughgoing, underlying, vital. They also include pejorative words such as anarchistic, chaotic, excessive, extremist, fanatical, far-out, freethinking, iconoclastic, immoderate, insubordinate, insurgent, insurrectionary, intransigent, lawless, left wing, militant, mutinous, nihilistic, rabid, rebellious, recalcitrant, recusant, refractory, restive, revolutionary, riotous, seditious, severe, sweeping, uncompromising and violent.

In common parlance, a person who cultivates dissident political beliefs is "radical".  Ditto those who dwell outside the mainstream, who have departed from accepted social standards or do their very own thing rather than just following the herd. The word has been so used since the sixties, and being called "radical" may be a compliment, but it is usually pejorative. It always intrigues me that a word used to describe the unconventional, independent, mildly eccentric and downright peculiar actually means something as lovely, organic and simple as "rooted". Do I consider myself radical? Anyone who writes, paints, sketches, takes heaps and heaps of photos, rambles in the woods in all sorts of weather and talks to trees is radical, so I suppose I am.

Our word simply means being connected, and it is one of my favorites in the English language. It signifies (for me anyway) a bone deep connection with everything that matters, the earth under my feet, the sky and the sun and the moon and stars over my head - with timeless notions of rebirth, transformation and non-duality. Roots down, branches up and away we go...


Barbara Rogers said...

I sure was amazed at the synonyms that Radical has...since I have assumed the current usage is correct. Oh my goodness, what a difference! I love rootedness.

Tabor said...

Words evolve as we use them and re-use them and misuse them.