Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Today's Word: Lucubration

Have you been burning the midnight oil?

Are you an insomniac?

If so, then chances are that you've engaged in a little lucubration!

Lucubration is a word for the night-owls! It means study that is done at night! It is research done by the flicker of candle light...and meditation aided by the velvet shroud of evening!

The term is often used to mean any overly dramatic, pedantic work that is obviously so near and dear to the author's heart that it became an obsession.

I find that there are people who seem to switch on like a light as night falls. Not me! I'm a morning person!

I like to feel the day break open like a fresh egg, illuminating the world of potential that lies waiting for me. But I certainly understand the draw of the evening hours!

In this new world of non-stop information and the barrage of media, sometimes the day flickers by and you find that you simply never had the time to focus and create! The night holds a certain quiet that provides ample space for thoughts to roil about and come to fruition.

Lucubration allows the mind to home-in on ideas without the distractions of life to draw you away. It comes from the Latin word for "work by candlelight", and has since been used to mean written work of substance or intensity.

When contemplating death in Hamlet, William Shakespeare famously wrote:

"To sleep, perchance to dream-
ay, there's the rub."
-Hamlet (III, i, 65-68)

His meaning is clear; that even in sleep (and possibly in death), our minds do not lie dormant...they fill with thought.

(In Shakespeare's time, the game of Cricket was played with a specially counter-weighted ball. It had a dense spot that would create a random bounce - a cricket ball must hit the ground once before it reaches the batter - making it difficult for the man at bat to anticipate the placement of the ball as it approached him. The dense spot was called the Rub of the ball. So, what Shakespeare was saying is that dreams are an unpredictable force that should strike fear in the souls of those who seek solace in sleep (or death), for as we all know; a dream may be pleasant and restful, or it may be terrifying.)

If the mind does continue to churn away in sleep, then we are all guilty of lucubration!



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