Monday, September 21, 2009

Today's Word: palinoia (it doesn't mean what you want it to mean)

palinoia: Compulsive repetition of an act until it is done perfectly. I know, you want it to mean constantly worrying that Sarah Palin might be elected President (more aptly referred to as stygiophobia) or to refer to that odd and discomforting feeling that the person you're talking to voted Republican in '08 because of Sarah Palin (idiophobia?). But that isn't what it means.

Musicians in particular can benefit from palinoia, as they practice and practice until they can play a piece in their sleep (would that be somniphony?). Palinoia can be horrid when it involves other people, though. Charlie Chaplin, for instance, was known as a perfectionist when it came to directing. There's a scene in Gold Rush in which a character (not played by Charlie Chaplin) is so hungry and poor that he is forced to eat his own shoe. The edible shoe was made from black licorice, so he actually could eat it. I remember hearing once that Chaplin did retake after retake to get the scene just perfect, and that poor actor had to eat something like twelve licorice shoes that day. Makes me cringe just to think about it.