March 20, 2017

Opsimath.

"A person who begins to learn or study late in life" — OED.
1808   Gentleman’s Mag. June 480/2   From the dissipation and idleness of his earlier years, Mr. Fox in Greek and Roman Literature was necessarily an Opsimath....
1968   T. M. Disch Camp Concentration (1969) i. 58   ‘Opsi?’ I asked Mordecai. ‘Short for opsimath—one who begins to learn late in life. We're all opsimaths here.’
1992   W. F. Buckley WindFall xvii. 268   They took me thirty years to learn, opsimath that I am in so many matters....
This is a word I learned only because it came up in a NYT acrostic — "Late learner, like Grandma Moses." I searched the entire archive of the NYT and found not a single appearance of this word. Surely, it's a bit useful.

1. It's funny, like oopsy-daisy.

2. You might be a polysyllabic show-off like William F. Buckley.

3. You could be Thomas M. Disch, writing "Camp Concentration." I read that book (almost half a century ago (it came out in 1968)).
In this chillingly plausible work of speculative fiction, Thomas M. Disch imagines an alternate 1970s in which America has declared war on the rest of the world and much of its own citizenry and is willing to use any weapon to assure victory.  Louis Sacchetti, a poet imprisoned for draft resistance, is delivered to a secret facility called Camp Archimedes, where he is the unwilling witness to the army's conscienceless experiments in “intelligence maximization.” In the experiment, Prisoners are given Pallidine, a drug derived from the syphilis spirochete, and their mental abilities quickly rise to the level of genius.  Unfortunately, a side effect of Pallidine is death.
Is there something I can learn from rereading this thing now that I've arrived in opsimath territory?
I crouched low, and the white rabbit hopped two hops closer, sniffed perspicaciously, raised itself on its hind feet, and extended its right forepaw, which I took between thumb and forefinger to shake.

“How do you do, Opsi,” I said.

Opsi withdrew his furry paw from my grasp and backed off.

“Opsi?” I asked Mordecai. “Short for opsimath— one who begins to learn late in life. We’re all opsimaths here. Now Mopsi, it’s your turn.”

The second rabbit, speckled brown and black, advanced. When it had reared itself on its hind legs I could see what appeared to be udders on its underbelly, though of quite disproportionate size. I pointed these out to M.

“It’s the orchitis, you know— inflammation of the testicles. That’s the price they pay for being so bright.” 
Opsimath— one who begins to learn late in life.... orchitis, you know— inflammation of the testicles.... It's like the book is teaching vocabulary words in alphabetical order.

36 comments:

David said...

"A person who begins to learn or study late in life."

Well, which is it? You can learn without studying, and study without learning.

buwaya said...

My ggpa was one of these opsimaths.

Born a peasant, illiterate when drafted into the army, he became a voracious reader in later life and established a notable library. All his children were what we today would say were home-schooled.

As for the testicles, there are a couple of tropical diseases that will do that.

buwaya said...

"In the experiment, Prisoners are given Pallidine, a drug derived from the syphilis spirochete, and their mental abilities quickly rise to the level of genius. Unfortunately, a side effect of Pallidine is death."

I believe I read this not too long after you. It was probably in the Manila Army-Navy club (the old US Officers club) library, by the embassy.

Anyway, a viral gene-patching solution for low intelligence is the ultimate holy grail for many genetics-intelligence researchers.

YuriG said...

I'm getting a security warning that your site has been blocked due to multiple reports of malware. I ignored the warning and suspect it's some kind of attack.

Michael K said...

"a viral gene-patching solution for low intelligence is the ultimate holy grail for many genetics-intelligence researchers."

I doubt it.

buwaya said...

"I doubt it."

Feasibility or desire?

eddie willers said...

I suspect Trump is an opsimath when it comes to conservative thought and policy.

Better late than never.

rhhardin said...

You might be a polysyllabic show-off like William F. Buckley.

Actually Buckley has a focussed range. It's not just any word. It's the high-value ones.

"The Quintessential Dictionary" has about a thousand words in it. If you learn them, you can read all of Buckley without looking anything up.

That particular book is good because it's, like Buckley, focussed.

rhhardin said...

I'm getting a security warning that your site has been blocked due to multiple reports of malware.

It's probably the google ads. Use an ad blocker.

sojerofgod said...

And what about those Trump testicles? I'll bet they're YUUUUGE!!!*



* no inflammation necessary.

rhhardin said...

Conversely, if you want to annoy somebody with a letter of complaint, use a few words from The Quintessential Dictionary to make them look stuff up too.

rhhardin said...

ARTHUR: Why are you a hooker?

GLORIA: My mother died when I was six.

ARTHUR: Son of a bitch! Don't they know what that does to kids?!

GLORIA: My father raped me when I was 12.

ARTHUR: So you had six relatively good years.

- Arthur (1981)

Too much walking-around-drunk joke but nice lines.

Ann Althouse said...

"Born a peasant, illiterate when drafted into the army, he became a voracious reader in later life and established a notable library. All his children were what we today would say were home-schooled."

Very good to hear that. Thanks.

Tyrone Slothrop said...

I loved "On Wings of Song", the only Disch I've read.

Guildofcannonballs said...

To the rescue I come once again on behalf of you people.

For the record, in "The Lexicon: A cornucopia of wonderful words for the inquisitive word lover" by WFB published by Harcourt, Inc, after opprobrium you will find not opsimath but instead indeed organon, defined as an instrument for acquiring knowledge, specifically a body of methodological doctrine comprising principles for scientific or philosophic procedure or investigations.

The book is small in stature, yet packs a punch when used as intended.

Guildofcannonballs said...

From the intro:

The Lexicon is the Oxford English Dictionary of William F. Buckley. And like the OED,what is most important is not the definitions (though these, Mr. Buckley's own, are excellent) nor the size (despite its twenty volumes, the OED has some 200,000 fewer entries than Webster's Second), but rather the citations, which allow us to read along with one of the greats and see how a master works his craft.

Michael K said...

"I doubt it."

Feasibility or desire?


Desire. Intelligence is probably multi-factorial and I doubt there is a "gene" for intelligence,

Other studies have examined variations across the entire genomes of many people (an approach called genome-wide association studies or GWAS) to determine whether any specific areas of the genome are associated with IQ. These studies have not conclusively identified any genes that underlie differences in intelligence. It is likely that a large number of genes are involved, each of which makes only a small contribution to a person’s intelligence.

It is also extremely un-PC so funding of such research might be chancy. Look at all the trouble Murray is in for even mentioning it.

Bob said...

Opsimathy is a regular theme of this brilliant blog:

Laudator Temporis Acti

He even has a tag for it, as you see. And you'll find an assortment of paintings and other illustrations, such as this description of Borges:

"Polyglot from childhood, fluent in English, French, German and, of course, Spanish, and having taught himself Anglo-Saxon and Old Norse in middle age, Borges finally embarked on the study of Classical Arabic with an Egyptian tutor whom he met in Geneva in the last year of his life. He was then eighty-six."

Michael K said...

You might, if you are really interested, read "The 10,000 Year Explosion" as they have a theory that intense evolutionary pressure on Ashkenazi Jews in Europe caused them to have higher IQ, especially in math.

However, the evolutionary pressure also caused the neurological hereditary diseases, like Tay-Sachs, that they have. Those diseases are ganglioside excess and the ganglioside might be related to intelligence.

Gregory Cochran proposes that the mutant alleles causing Tay–Sachs confer higher intelligence when present in carrier form, and provided a selective advantage in the historical period when Jews were restricted to intellectual occupations

Cochran is the author of "the 10,000 year explosion" and has a blog on genetics.

If true, it is evidence of some genetic role in intelligence,


Murray has been concerned about "selective mating" with high IQ males and females meeting in colleges.

The contrary, mating of low IQ inner city residents, is not mentioned in polite society.

traditionalguy said...

I thought the oopsimath is someone who misses the math test answers.

buwaya said...

So, it is most certainly not one gene, but most likely a very large number in a complex series of relationships. But that just makes it a complex firmware patch, which is very likely doable, eventually.
Whats certain is that its come down to biology, because everything else has been tested and tried, to no avail. Part of the hysteria on the subject is, I think, a realization that there is nothing substantial to hang their fundamental dogmas on, their religious doctrine of crude equality is dead.
Its gone from 1960s hope, as in the studies of Coleman and "peer effects", through curriculum reform and directed learning, to privatization (the failures of which flipped Diane Ravitch from pro to anti - she expected far too much), and I could go on at great length. There is nothing left.
So what they have is despair, which has led to hysterical denial.
That cant go on because it is having a terrible effect on US education, for everyone.
One day they will bite the bullet and concede that proper R&D on the brain is the only way forward.

EDH said...

It's funny, like oopsy-daisy.

"Oopsy Daisy!"

Tari said...

My grandfather was sort of an opsimath, I guess you could say. He reluctantly finished high school - didn't do very well - but my grandmother was a year older and worked at the library, so he did what he could to impress her. After that, he had no interest in studying for a long time, but at some point he just started reading and reading. He was very intelligent and had a clear and insightful mind well into his late 80s. I gave him some Shakespeare when he was 84 or 85, and he loved it - called me to talk about it and everything. He was much more into politics and history, but he wound up wanting to read just about anything you handed him. When my mom went through his books after he passed away, he had noted in every one the date he started it, the date he finished it, who gave it to him, and any random thoughts about it. The world needs more people like him - truly curious about so many things, and always willing to admit when he needed to learn more. Memory eternal!

Guildofcannonballs said...

Why would anyone care about I.Q. when morality, e.g. greedy white men ruling a world in need and the morality absent or not from that charge and the repercussions a false accusation will eventually morbidly entail for eternity, matters so much more for so many more reasons?

The smart smart smart elite aren't ruling the planet from their LaZBoy in pajamas I hope. Conceiting like a fatal ass. Or group of ass' might surmise all is knowable to those with infinite human time in mind, and one whole Helluva lot of resources too.

Derp derp Grant fights but, ahh, like, his wife scowls too much derp derp.

Piss on Grant.

BREAKING THE FOURTH WALL THIS 43 TIME AT ALTHOUSE:

Buywaya get your ass feeling good about doing jack shit, instead of apparently focusing on diagnosing problems in hopes of solutions resulting. You will find, and I will testify here, you feeling optimistic about all but San Fran folks will enrich everyone you would ideally want to enrich, not just jerks. Buck up. You have friends just like I do when watching LORD OF THE RINGS.

It's obvious people like me treat your shit serious like Rich Fernandez or Subatai ...

Now it's time for what made you seek whatever it is that brought you to where you are make you help others realize they are there too, but as you and I and us all we just don't why we know it, or why duh duh duh, as yet.

The size of the ship is cause for extremeness of gratitude and most precisely not equal levels of despair. Would you want to be China?

Given current trends it is not absurd to consider, although Friedman that punk was idiotic in his anti-American view of potential positives compared to America's.

But what Reagan taught me was America can be everything China is and more, but only if certain changes enacted work. They work through ways I do not know and cannot say how. Faith runs out, after water and sewer and power and fresh food and starving dogs moans and bullets in the head too.

But not Bulleit though, spirit.

Guildofcannonballs said...

Considering many great female writers "his" craft is an interesting turn of phrase. It refers to Buckley, a man as of this writing but having understood humanity I don't doubt in 2017 he could be considered female if that helps out some proggie's painful existisnce be possibly mollified.

Why cannot a certain understanding, "hey ya know fuck actual words, cunt, 'his' means you too" not be considered the norm if I am drunk and know know know other people really, we all know, we know, feel the same way.

buwaya said...

Guild,
No te entiendo.

Guildofcannonballs said...

http://www.reuters.com/investigates/special-report/scotus/

Thing is, beta embodies all this white white white ness, like these dudes with a little fem influence mixed in for cover, do at SCOTUS.

These racist bastards, depriving the one Black Man his voice oftenely through ways heretofore sans description almost as if bullshit ways in play, only bullshit not 13% black, ergo hence therefore in conclusion DISPARATE IMPACT THOMAS GETS TO KICK OUT TWO JUSTICES.

TRUMP WON'T appoint two more, opposite of dickhead FDR schemes of consequence.

Guildofcannonballs said...

B I have told men better than you, Mark Steyn is the only one that comes to mind, America has been undervalued by all the best foreign, and domestic, thinkers, FOR VERY GOOD REASONS, for a long, long time.

My answer is cheerlead, cheerlead as a boss, a kingpimp, a Forever God, whatever doesn't negatively influence your Christian soul, as one of the most Blessed men to have existed.

Worry for minutes, celebrate for days.

Applaud what is right and why.

Read Buckley on the Titanic. Then pay to visit yourself if your assets might encourage knowing the Buckleyesque nature of the task.

Deep, deep blue sea, for those who see it everyday and those who see it once.

Michael K said...

So what they have is despair, which has led to hysterical denial.
That cant go on because it is having a terrible effect on US education, for everyone.
One day they will bite the bullet and concede that proper R&D on the brain is the only way forward.


The issue is what happens to smart kids who are in terrible schools. I am sure there are kids who could be the next Thomas Sowell, who need only a mentor.

A family friend called Eddie—a boy roughly Mr. Sowell’s age—had taken it upon himself to help the callow little Southerner navigate his new metropolitan minefields. “I was assigned to a junior high school in a really very bad part of Harlem, and Eddie told me, ‘You don’t have to go there. You can ask to be sent to a different school.’ That’s what he’d done. And then I followed him to Stuyvesant”—a selective high school for smart kids. “He led me. If you take Eddie out of my life, there’s virtually no way I could have followed the same path that I did.”
Having dodged a calamitous education solely on the advice of a worldly child, it isn’t surprising that Mr. Sowell—who went on to earn degrees from Harvard, Columbia and the University of Chicago before teaching at some of the country’s finest universities—has had a lifelong distaste for the “ideologues” who have come to run America’s schools.


Genetics is not destiny.There are feral children in inner cities these days who could be saved.

Danno said...

You might say that the Althousian commenters are late learners, or at least, "life-long" learners since we are lured by interesting topics and our mostly shared trait of intellectual curiosity.

Tari said...

Michael K, have you watched Waiting for Superman? Not that I think charter schools (or vouchers or anything in particular) are a panacea for the condition our public education system is in ... but that being said, it is a powerful movie. Seeing how much it means to the children and parents in that movie to get out of their failing schools - it's hard to watch.

Guildofcannonballs said...

I am quite disappointed. I understand caring lacks, but if I ever happen upon this set of words, MY SHIT DELETED WAS PROVIDING INSPIRATION.

It is like my song "Devl's Land"

In the Devil's land, he'll take your hand.
In the Devil's land, your're His man,

(Yeah spelled fucked your/you're)

....


Buncha a good stuff, but then:

In this Angel's land,
Folks understand.
God gave us all,
Including Water's Wall.


Hahahahahahahahnahahahahahahahahhahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahhahaha


The Wall?

Yeah that's a Waters, Rodger Doger production of his projected life insinct aka "gene" or some new such acceptances incentivize. All in in all it's just a another buck in the bank. 'Not her buck in the bank. All in all, another buck in the (Jew) bank, another buck in the (Jewish) bank....


We don't need no education!!!!!!

Tyrone Slothrop said...

I'm getting a security warning that your site has been blocked due to multiple reports of malware.

Indonesian sex toy vendor, no doubt.

Fernandinande said...

Michael K said...
If true, it is evidence of some genetic role in intelligence,


You make it sound like the concept is Cochran's pet idea, but it's really mainstream - "settled science", so to speak. "Many genes for brain function" follows pretty obviously from the fact that most genetic diseases have a negative effect on cognition.

Gene/intellegence researcher Steve Hsu's latest post: Everything is Heritable

The contrary, mating of low IQ inner city residents, is not mentioned in polite society.

Perhaps not polite:
Dysgenic Fertility Among Blacks? Apparently, Yes

More polite (IOW everyone is white, so it's OK to be stupid because of those evil genes) Paper Review: Icelandic Dysgenics

buwaya said...
So what they have is despair, which has led to hysterical denial.
That cant go on because it is having a terrible effect on US education, for everyone.


It's pretty amazing, especially the disgusting way some (most?) college administrators proudly advertise their anti-science ideology in the collegiate free-speech foofaraws.

Renaming schools named after people associated with IQ research: Damnatio Memoriae in Silicon Valley. Is Helen Keller Next?
Note the hilarious (hysterical?) redefinition of 'eugenics' in the referenced MSM article.

Fernandinande said...

Tari said...
Not that I think charter schools (or vouchers or anything in particular) are a panacea for the condition our public education system is in


Other than wasting a lot of money, what condition is the public education system in ?

Bad Lieutenant said...

Buwaya, don't mind Guildy, he's drunk, I think. I think he only posts when he's drunk. Nttawwt.