Tuesday, September 20, 2011
As I am going to have to at some point change this back from an advocacy platform to what it was intended to be, I thought a good transitory word would be 'vigil'. I will note here that it was announced this morning that Troy Davis was not granted clemency, and is scheduled to be executed at 7 PM Wednesday evening, Atlanta time. I feel that the time of advocacy is over and the time of vigil has begun. But what exactly is a vigil?
I was not surprised by the sense of watchfulness and wakefulness it has. It comes to us from the Latin, of course, and took on the meaning of 'the eve of a religious festival' in the thirteenth century. The meaning of a watch kept on a festival eve comes later, toward the end of the fourteenth century, and our more contemporary sense of 'an occasion of keeping awake for some purpose' isn't recorded till 1711.
For some reason this started me thinking about vigilantes, which originally comes from the Spanish language, but somehow ended up in the American West--probably, I'm guessing, through the Spanish speakers who also lived in the region. It's interesting that the original sense of watchmen has all but disappeared from our mythology of vigilante justice with its disregard for due process.
I'll write a less cursory post about something probably completely unrelated in a few days.