List 2

This list covers "Elementary Topography"–"Velocity vs. Viscosity."
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definitions & notes only words
  1. deranged
    driven insane
    What about me was so deranged that in less than half an hour a doctor would pack me off to the nuthouse?
  2. undertow
    inclination contrary to the strongest or prevailing feeling
    It was 1967. Even in lives like his, professional lives lived out in the suburbs behind shrubbery, there was a strange undertow, a tug from the other world—the drifting, drugged-out, no-last-name youth universe—that knocked people off balance.
  3. mottled
    having spots or patches of color
    What are these kids doing? And then one of them walks into his office wearing a skirt the size of a napkin, with a mottled chin and speaking in monosyllables.
  4. flotsam
    the floating wreckage of a ship
    It's a mean world out there, as Lisa would say. He can't in good conscience send her back into it, to become flotsam on the subsocietal tide that washes up now and then in his office, depositing others like her.
  5. alienated
    socially disoriented
    Now, I would say to myself, you are feeling alienated from people and unlike other people, therefore you are projecting your discomfort onto them. When you look at a face, you see a blob of rubber because you are worried that your face is a blob of rubber.
  6. whit
    a tiny or scarcely detectable amount
    My hunger, my thirst, my loneliness and boredom and fear were all weapons aimed at my enemy, the world. They didn't matter a whit to the world, of course, and they tormented me, but I got a gruesome satisfaction from my sufferings.
  7. perverse
    marked by a disposition to oppose and contradict
    Perverse reasoning. But back of that perversity, I knew I wasn't mad and that they wouldn't keep me there, locked up in a loony bin.
  8. oversight
    management by watching and directing a person or group
    Lunatics to the left, staff to the right. The toilets and shower rooms were also to the right, as though the staff claimed oversight of our most private acts.
  9. etiquette
    rules governing socially acceptable behavior
    The seclusion-room etiquette was, If you weren't locked in, anybody could join you.
  10. sustain
    lengthen or extend in duration or space
    As a group we maintained a certain level of noisiness and misery. Anyone who sustained a higher level for more than a few hours was put in seclusion.
  11. seclusion
    the quality of being removed from the presence of others
    As a group we maintained a certain level of noisiness and misery. Anyone who sustained a higher level for more than a few hours was put in seclusion.
  12. criterion
    a basis for comparison
    There were no objective criteria for deciding to put someone into seclusion. It was relative, like the grading curve in high school.
  13. cadence
    the accent in a metrical foot of verse
    What is it about meter and cadence and rhythm that makes their makers mad?
  14. pristine
    immaculately clean and unused
    The grounds were large and beautifully planted. They were pristine as well, since we were almost never allowed to walk around.
  15. gradation
    the act of arranging in ranks or levels
    The gradations were Byzantine. One-to-twos (one nurse, two patients) led to group (three or four patients and one nurse).
  16. retinue
    the group following and attending to some important person
    So when we went to Bailey's in Waverley Square with our retinue of nurses, the arrangement of atoms in our molecule was more complex than it appeared to the engineers' wives sipping coffee at the counter and graciously pretending not to look at us.
  17. stately
    impressive in appearance
    It was a ten- or fifteen-minute walk down the hill, past the rosebushes and stately trees of our beautiful hospital.
  18. nonchalant
    marked by casual unconcern or indifference
    The farther we got from our ward, the jumpier the nurses became. By the time we hit the street they were silent and closed in on us, and they had assumed the Nonchalant Look, an expression that said, I am not a nurse escorting six lunatics to the ice cream parlor.
  19. phalanx
    any closely ranked crowd of people
    A new boy was dishing out cones. We approached him in a phalanx.
  20. audacity
    aggressive or outright boldness
    Sometimes they had the audacity to ask where someone was.
  21. metronome
    clicking pendulum indicating the tempo of a piece of music
    Click, swish, "Checks," swish, click.
    It never stopped, even at night; it was our lullaby. It was our metronome, our pulse. It was our lives measured out in doses slightly larger than those famous coffee spoons.
  22. tine
    a prong on a fork, pitchfork, or antler
    Cutting old tough beef with a plastic knife, then scooping it onto a plastic fork (the tines wouldn't stick into the meat, so you had to use the fork like a spoon): Food tastes different eaten with plastic utensils.
  23. distinguish
    mark as different
    One day a second Lisa arrived. We called her by her full name, Lisa Cody, to distinguish her from the real Lisa, who remained simply Lisa, like a queen.
  24. ominous
    threatening or foreshadowing evil or tragic developments
    Cynthia was depressive; Polly and Georgina were schizophrenic; I had a character disorder. Sometimes they called it a personality disorder. When I got my diagnosis it didn't sound serious, but after a while it sounded more ominous than other people's. I imagined my character as a plate or shirt that had been manufactured incorrectly and was therefore useless.
  25. welt
    a raised mark on the skin
    That afternoon Lisa Cody burned a tiny welt on her wrist and spent the next twenty minutes running cold water on it.
  26. debutante
    a young woman making her formal entrance into society
    "Greenwich, Connecticut!" She sneered: No sociopath could emerge from there. "Were you a debutante too?"
  27. gnarled
    old and twisted and covered in lines
    Lisa pushed her sleeve up to her elbow and shoved her arm under Lisa Cody's nose. Her arm was studded with pale brown lumps, gnarled and authentic.
  28. quibble
    argue over petty things
    I won't quibble over ten minutes.
  29. predominant
    having superior power and influence
    The predominant quality of the slow form is viscosity.
    Experience is thick. Perceptions are thickened and dulled. Time is slow, dripping slowly through the clogged filter of thickened perception.
  30. torpid
    slow and apathetic
    The immune system is half-asleep. The organism is torpid and brackish.
  31. brackish
    distasteful and unpleasant
    The organism is torpid and brackish.
  32. stupor
    marginal consciousness
    Even the reflexes are diminished, as if the lower leg couldn't be bothered to jerk itself out of its stupor when the knee is tapped.
  33. viscosity
    resistance of a liquid to flowing
    Viscosity occurs on a cellular level. And so does velocity.
    In contrast to viscosity's cellular coma, velocity endows every platelet and muscle fiber with a mind of its own, a means of knowing and commenting on its own behavior.
  34. plethora
    extreme excess
    There is too much perception, and beyond the plethora of perceptions, a plethora of thoughts about the perceptions and about the fact of having perceptions.
  35. paradox
    a statement that contradicts itself
    There are roots to the tongue. You've seen them, and if you put your finger in your mouth you can feel them, but you can't feel them with the tongue. It's a paradox.
  36. disinclination
    a certain degree of unwillingness
    Viscosity and velocity are opposites, yet they can look the same. Viscosity causes the stillness of disinclination; velocity causes the stillness of fascination.
  37. stylized
    using artistic forms and conventions to create effects
    Experiences seem prerecorded, stylized.
  38. lethargic
    deficient in alertness or activity
    A lethargic avalanche of synthetic thought can take days to fall.
  39. endogenous
    derived or originating internally
    Endogenous or exogenous, nature or nurture—it's the great mystery of mental illness.
  40. exogenous
    derived or originating externally
    Endogenous or exogenous, nature or nurture—it's the great mystery of mental illness.
Created on March 15, 2020 (updated March 16, 2020)

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