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SENESCENT

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SENESCENT

Postby Dr. Goodword » Fri Sep 14, 2012 10:26 pm

• senescent •


Pronunciation: sê-nes-ênt • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: A more eloquent and delicate way of saying "old" or "aging".

Notes: Senior citizen is the sort of term we come up with when we leave it to journalists and academics to enrich our vocabulary. Today's word expresses the same sentiment much more elegantly. It is the adjective from the verb to senesce which has a noun, senescence. I would rather be senescent than a senior citizen. A synonym of senescence is senectitude, still better than senior citizen.

In Play: J. D. Salinger, writing in 1965 in the New Yorker, distinguished senescence from maturation: "Few of these magnificent, healthy, sometimes remarkably handsome boys will mature. The majority, I give you my heartbreaking opinion, will merely senesce." Most of us would prefer to forget about aging, which works out fine, since forgetfulness is an art that comes with senescence.

Word History: Today's word was borrowed from Latin sensecen(t)s "growing older", the present participle of senescere "to grow old," a variant of senere "to be old". All these forms go back to senex "old, old man", whose root, sen-, can be seen in senior, senile, and senator. (I'll bet you had already guessed the last two were related.) Spanish señor, Portuguese senhor, and Italian signore come from the comparative of the same word, senior "older, elder". (Today we tip our hats to Gene DuBose for launching us on our journey to find this more charming way of expressing and thinking of age.)
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Re: SENESCENT

Postby Perry Lassiter » Fri Sep 14, 2012 11:54 pm

Unfortunately, I prefer senior adult. Senescence in our area connotes senility, and I'm trying to hide that as much as I can.
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Re: SENESCENT

Postby Slava » Sat Sep 15, 2012 1:02 am

Agreed. Senescence is to me the far end of life and implies a great loss of mental and physical abilities. I hope I will never hear senectitude applied to me.

On a completely different note, the sound of Schenectady, a city in New York, if repeated several times, is often used to confer the sound of a train going down the tracks. I do believe senectitude would serve as well.

SchenectadySchenectadySchenectadySchenectadySchenectady
senectitudesenectitudesenectitudesenectitudesenectitude
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Re: SENESCENT

Postby MTC » Sat Sep 15, 2012 7:24 am

Ever since the ancient Greeks, and probably before, reversing senesence has been Man's age-old but futile dream. Just keeping up the illusion of youth has proved highly profitable. Witness the multi-billion dollar beauty and cosmetics industry.
On the opposite side of the makeup kit, fighting a losing battle, are those who counsel us to accept our senesence gracefully. Good luck to them!
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Re: SENESCENT

Postby David McWethy » Sat Sep 15, 2012 9:36 am

The difference between men & municipal revenue bonds is that eventually the bonds will mature....
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Re: SENESCENT

Postby LukeJavan8 » Sat Sep 15, 2012 11:56 am

Fifty is the new Forty....and all those platitudes:
yearning for youth. Personally I would not go back if I could.
-----please, draw me a sheep-----
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Re: SENESCENT

Postby David McWethy » Sat Sep 15, 2012 1:05 pm

Well, if "going back" means having an opportunity to make the same mistakes all over again, then I, too, would not want to endure what most resembles a do-it-yourself bris.

"Wisdom," they say, "comes with age". It's been my experience that more often than not Wisdom tells Age "You go on ahead; I'll catch up with you later". And Wisdom always does--just not in time to do much good. Leaving the sum total value of one's life to more serve as a horrible example than as an exemplary role model.

But to say one would not want to go back suggests (to me, anyway) that one would not want to undo the harm done to oneself and to others; to grasp opportunities when they come along instead of deferring them to a time when they less interfere with the entertainment of the moment; and to be able to rest in contentment that one's life, on balance, added to the sum total of human enrichment (so that at one's memorial service the church would be overflowing for some reason other than the number who came just to confirm that one was truly dead).
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Re: SENESCENT

Postby bamaboy56 » Sat Sep 15, 2012 7:35 pm

I have often wondered what it would be like to "go back". I hope I would not make the same mistakes, but who knows? Would I be the same person or someone totally different?
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Re: SENESCENT

Postby Slava » Sat Sep 15, 2012 8:20 pm

That's the big question in going back. Will you know what you know now, as in movies like "Back to the Future" or "Groundhog Day"? Or will you simply be in a position to do something different, without knowing you are doing something different?
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Re: SENESCENT

Postby David McWethy » Sat Sep 15, 2012 8:25 pm

Not to belabor the point, but: Wouldn't that depend entirely upon whether you were able to realize the mistakes of consequence in your life (didn't make any? Exit now and go directly to Heaven before you screw up for the first time) for what they were, and had the clarity of hindsight to realize that the best indication of mental illness is to do the same things over and over, believing that somehow the outcome will be different.

Maybe I'm a sui generis (in many ways) but I can clearly and distinctly recall three or four distinct life-changing moments when I should have but didn't; or shouldn't have but did.

Would my life now be better if I could go back? There's no evidence that it would be anything but different: In going back I might avoid one monumental mistake, only to be hoisted on my petard in one of many other ways.

But it's nice to contemplate being thought of, as Steinbeck so eloquently wrote, as a person about whom it might be said "While no man found it necessary to kis his a** for favor, neither did any find that they could kick it with impunity".

But I could be wrong....
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Re: SENESCENT

Postby Slava » Sat Sep 15, 2012 8:33 pm

David McWethy wrote:Not to belabor the point, but: Wouldn't that depend entirely upon whether you were able to realize the mistakes of consequence in your life (didn't make any? Exit now and go directly to Heaven before you screw up for the first time) for what they were, and had the clarity of hindsight to realize that the best indication of mental illness is to do the same things over and over, believing that somehow the outcome will be different.

That, I believe, is the idea behind knowing what you know now. You know what the mistake was, and hopefully have the experience to make other adjustments along the way.

Maybe I'm a sui generis
Just to be picky, I'm quite sure the "a" is not necessary. One is simply sui generis or not.
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Re: SENESCENT

Postby bamaboy56 » Sat Sep 15, 2012 8:56 pm

Like David McW. I, too, can think of a time or two when I "should have and didn't and shouldn't have and did". Thankfully, not many of either. Anyway, I am now who I am. Not sure what would have happened had I reached a fork in the road and turned left instead of right (or vice versa). The main thing I hope is that, having made those decisions in the past, I learned something that can help me make good decisions in the future. That's still to be seen.
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Re: SENESCENT

Postby Perry Lassiter » Sat Sep 15, 2012 11:29 pm

My thoughts on looking back at roads not taken: if we had taken some other road or roads, we would still be here wondering what would have happened had we gone the other route (the one we did take).
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Re: SENESCENT

Postby Philip Hudson » Sun Sep 16, 2012 1:37 am

Sui generis is some sort of philosophical mumbo-jumbo. Give something a Latin name, or a German name, and some people take you seriously. Is'nt sui generis covered by Popeye's mantra "I am what I am"? Governor Romney is trying to make some mileage on that. Jesus is the only person who is what he is. He actually said that of himself. I have no idea who I am and another chance to live my life would not make me any better. The though of another chance at life is nonsense. We live in a space-time continuum. There is no chance to do it over. Jesus visited the space-time continuum, but he is not a part of it. I will do the best I can in the time I have left on earth. I have no desire to try it again.
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Re: SENESCENT

Postby David McWethy » Sun Sep 16, 2012 3:38 am

Slava presents me with a superlative framework of the "but if I went back, knowing what I know, might I not just repeat the same mistakes all over again?" dilemma, in this manner:

When I was a child (a span which covered many decades) if someone offered a perfectly respectful opinion, well-reasoned and insightful, I would simply have to respond with my two cents, rather just shut my trap.

Now, having matured to the point that I'm much less intractably obstinate about being right, I know--that is, I KNOW to let the "a"/"no a" comment pass. But nooooo! The only difference between bulling ahead with ignorance serving as blinders and proceeding nonetheless, "maturely", is the deference to be paid to someone who's probably forgotten more than I'll ever know about proper word usage.

I feel that to say "maybe I'm sui generis" (which I've been taught was Latin for "one of a kind; unique") would be a fatuous comment conveying no new information: Of course, in the great scheme of things, I--like everyone else--is unique in all the world. No one is like anyone else.

But how should I properly distinguish between this broad-brush, universal everybody-is-different-from-everyone-else "I am sui generis" (with this evening being the first time I've ever heard the phrase linked to Popeye and Mitt Romney in one broadside) from the way I intended for it to be taken: I can identify three or four life-changing moments in my life, where its course would have been changed if I'd jogged left rather than jigged right.

I would not presume that everyone else has had the same experiences, or reactions to them that were identical to mine,for to do so would be arrogance beyond belief. Therefore, while being generally unique in all the world as is everyone else, I additionally may be a unique, one-of-a-kind person in this narrow way I look at these significant moments.

I respectfully ask (rather than being an intellectual pygmy waiting-in-the-tall-grass for a response to pounce on) if I can be a unique person; a one-of-a-kind; why wouldn't it be proper to say that in addition to the broad meaning I also may be a person who is sui generis within the narrow confines previously alluded to--or, leaving out "person who is", simply "a" sui generis.

Good, bad or indifferent, I solemnly pledge that I shall forever refrain from mentioning the phrase again. And thereby probably become nearly unique (notice with twinkle in eye, please.)

Mac
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