work in progress (moozooh) wrote,
work in progress

  • Music:
Riddles: they either delight or torment. Their delight lies in solutions. Answers provide bright moments of comprehension perfectly suited for children who still inhabit a world where solutions are readily available. Implicit in the riddle's form is a promise that the rest of the world resolves just as easily. And so riddles comfort the child's mind which spins wildly before the onslaught of so much information and so many subsequent questions.

The adult world, however, produces riddles of a different variety. They do not have answers and are often called enigmas or paradoxes. Still the old hint of the riddle's form corrupts these questions by re-echoing the most fundamental lesson: there must be an answer. From there comes torment.

It is not uncharacteristic to encounter adults who detest riddles. A variety of reasons may lie behind their reaction but a significant one is the rejection of the adolescent belief in answers. These adults are often the same ones who say "grow up" and "face the facts." They are offended by the incongruities of yesterday's riddles with answers when compared to today's riddles without.

It is beneficial to consider the origins of "riddle." The Old English rædelse means "opinion, conjure" which is related to the Old English rædon, "to interpret" in turn belonging to the same etymological history of "read." "Riddling" is an offshoot of "reading" calling to mind the participatory nature of that act—to interpret—which is all the adult world has left when faced with the unsolvable.

"To read" actually comes from the Latin reri "to calculate, to think" which is not only the progenitor of "read" but "reason" as well, both of which hail from the Greek arariskein "to fit." Aside from giving us "reason," arariskein also gives us an unlikely sibling, Latin arma meaning "weapons." It seems that "to fit" the world or to make sense of it requires either reason or arms.
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