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Collapse and Emergency

These two words bear close watching. My wife today pointed out to me how odd the word “emergency” was. It caused me to check: OED says, from the late Latin, emergentia. An emergency, ultimately from emergere, “to come forth, come out, to rise up… is what we hear it be if we listen to it, an emergence (curious that an orginal, now rare meaning in English pertained to how bodies would float to the surface of water).

Given this, “collapse” also came to mind. I recalled how habituated heretics were fatefully convicted of being in a state of relapsus, as Campanella was. Falling back. Collapse though is from collaps- the past participle stem of collabi, to fall together. The “co-“, the coming together is what I think should not be lost. The root, Lapus, they tell us is the perfect past participle of labor, “to move gently along a smooth surface, to fall, slide; to slide, slip, or glide down, to fall down, to sink”.

Emergence and sliding together.

We confuse (fuse together). We consider collapses to be emergencies, and often emergenices to signal collapses. When examining each, perhaps best attention is paid to just what is emerging, and what is sliding together, and further and more subtly, how sliding-together is a kind of emergence, and visa versa.

So Sophocles speaks of Time:

Everything, oh lengthy & unmetered Chronos

Produces, the unseen even as the revealed gets concealed.

Nothing is unexpected/hopeless…

Ajax, lines 646-648

And need we remind that “crisis” is from the Greek κρίσις; it is a “turning point”, a trial’s judgment, a discernment, a choice, an election. How the world is a composition of crisises, difference that makes a difference, and perhaps nothing more than such.

 

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