Friday, January 1, 2016

A dream word puzzle on New Year's morning

I find that odd words and phrases in my dreams are often clues to fascinating things if I take time to do the puzzles (and this may take quite a while). In my early morning dreams on New Year's day, I was excited to discover an English translation of a story by a favorite author (Mircea Eliade), typeset but not yet published. Now lucid, I leaned into the dream, trying to retrieve some of the text. I got this:
His colleague had the voracity of a threshing sheave.
I understood that this was reference to a character's sexual appetites. The wording is doubly odd, in English. "Voracity"is an actual English word. Your spellcheck demons will try to substitute "veracity" but that is a different creature entirely. "Voracity" is rarely heard in English, but - as the quality of being voracious - it fits the context beautifully. But "threshing sheave"can't be right, surely. There is a threshing flail. And there are the sheaves of grain that are produced after the threshing is done. Has the translator conjoined two words that aren't meant to be spooning each other? Hmmm. I have learned never to step away from the first version of a word or phrase a dream gives me, however unlikely or resistant to translation it may seem to be. Time to go to the dictionary. I am now reminded that "sheave" (singular) is another good English word. A sheave is a pulley with a grooved wheel for holding a cable or rope (see photo above). The grooved wheel spins inside the frame of the sheave, allowing the rope or cable to move freely and smoothly. A sheave can be used to redirect a cable or rope, lift loads, and transmit power. Not hard to see a potential metaphor here, involving the sexual act, a grade above "screw". Was the author striving for some fresh metaphor here that has not quite managed to make itself at home in English? I may ask Mircea, if he is available..

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