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Dr. Goodword
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Postby Dr. Goodword » Mon Mar 03, 2014 1:07 am

• iconoclast •

Pronunciation: ai-kahn-ê-klæst • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: 1. Someone who destroys religious images (icons). 2. Someone who changes an artistic, scientific, or other paradigm, or overthrows traditional ideas and replaces them with new ones.

Notes: Today's Good Word brings with it an adjective, iconoclastic and an adverb, iconoclastically. There is also a noun, iconoclasm. The original iconoclasts destroyed countless religious images, or icons, that they believed were being worshipped in defiance of the commandment not to worship "graven images". The iconoclasm that produced today's Good Word reached a peak in the 8th and 9th century in Greece. However, many instances of literal iconoclasm occurred prior to and since this instance.

In Play: Iconoclasts are not merely eccentrics, but are people who intentionally break conventions to establish new ones. Picasso was the quintessential iconoclast of 20th century art. Andy Warhol was another. Martin Luther was an iconoclast in religion. Karl Marx was the most widely influential iconoclast in economics of the 19th century. Peter II (the Great) was an iconoclastic political leader; he built Saint Petersburg as his window on the West, through which flowed many, many Western ideas.

Word History: This word entered English in the 1590s from French iconoclaste, which it inherited from Latin. Latin borrowed the word from late Greek eikonoklastes, based on eikon "image" + klastes "breaker". We don't know how eikon came to be in Greek, but we know quite a bit about klas-. The same root produced Latin calamita "damage" that came to English as calamity. It has a high profile in the Slavic languages: Russian kolot' "to chop" and klin "nail", and Czech klát "tree stump", among others. (Susan Ardith Lee suggested today's Good Word from among the iconoclasts of the Alpha Agora; we owe her our gratitude.)
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Philip Hudson
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Re: Iconoclast

Postby Philip Hudson » Mon Mar 03, 2014 12:27 pm

My mother was the icon of all iconoclasts. However, she would not have liked to be called an icon. Everything is iconic of late. My mother was a great amateur singer and much in demand at social functions and at churches. But she wasn’t an iconic singer. If I were to be declared iconic it would probably be as an iconic curmudgeon.

We sometimes suffered from my mother’s iconoclastic bent. We didn’t have Christmas trees, Santa Claus or the Easter bunny. We certainly could not go trick-or-treating or dance around the Maypole. Maypoles, being phallic symbols, were forbidden. Secular singing and dancing were approved. We had no crosses in our house or images of Jesus or Mary. We didn't celebrate birthdays. She condescendingly made an exception to her 50th marriage anniversary and her 90th birthday. Yet she was a cheerful gregarious person all of her life.

To mother there were many icons and all icons were to be broken. Mother believed that words, read spoken or sung, were the only way to honor God.

We survived and are, I think, the better for it. We do have Christmas trees now, but we stop short of the Easter bunny.
It is dark at night, but the Sun will come up and then we can see.

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