Basking in the Spoils of Etymology: "Emergency"

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You can learn alot about the macro-psychology of a people by what their words come to mean over the centuries. I tracked down the origins of "emergency" because I was attracted to "emergent" as an adjective. It summons a more mysterious feeling than does the verb "emerge", but a less severe feeling than the noun "emergency".
e·mer·gen·cy from www.thefreedictionary.com

1. A serious situation or occurrence that happens unexpectedly and demands immediate action.

2. A condition of urgent need for action or assistance: a state of emergency.
Etymology from http://www.etymonline.com:

emergency (n.)
1630s, from Latin emergens, prp. of emergere (see emerge). Or from emerge + -ency.
Indulging briefly in "emerge" + "ency", one finds:
emerge (v.)

1560s, from Middle French √©merger, from Latin emergererise "out" or "up," "bring forth," "bring to light," from ex- "out" (see ex-) + mergere "to dip, sink" (see merge)  
and...
-ency

word-forming element denoting quality or state, from Latin -entia. Derivatively identical with -ence.
So, what do we find? "Emergency" means, pretty literally, "the state of coming forth," or "an arising condition".

Isn't that wild?

They say "no news is good news" and this etymological excursion really calls to mind the lecture Harvy Dent recieves from the Joker about how nothing causes panic when things go according to plan. I had a seminarian friend once chastise me that "seeking disorder is bad for one's mental health," and you can see in the lives of your local manic-depressives and severe clinical ADHD's that they almost seem intent on creating emergency situations as part of their lifestyle. But isn't it telling that the basic phrase "beginning of an occurrence" has ended up meaning "EMERGENCY" to the civilized world?



The medical and psychological communities are finding a staggering amount of pathologies are rooted in stress. It turns out that the natural world from whence we, uh, emerged was full of emergencies and our ancestors were bombarded by new situations at practically all times. But one does not need to examine world history too closely to notice that the industrial revolution has brought a fairly crystallized status of world sovereignty. With a few minor exceptions, mostly in tribal and other pre-industrialized areas--as well as a few anomalies like the Russio-Georgian contra--the lines on the map haven't moved from side to side for quite some time. Don't expect them to. Industrial mechanization has been all-stabilizing, the true opiate of the masses. Problem is, humans are DESIGNED with emergencies in mind, and when they fail to happen, bio-neurological systems fire off at the office with panic attacks and melt-downs--basically nocturnal emissions of the mastodon-hunter in all of us. This is why Ted Kazynksi lost his shit, and why video games are turning out to be good for the mental health.
Do you know the euphoria of making
life-or-death on-the-spot decisions?
Probably not unless you're a fire-fighter,
Navy-Seal or if you have an X-box.

Unfortunately, we can't evolve out of an alarm-based neuro-endocrine system, because mellow-assed Buddhists have no organic advantages over Jack from accounts receivable. Suffering may be bad for an individual and his chances of happily living to 85, but it's good for DNA turnover.

So what do men have to satisfy our biology? Sports have given alpha-males their emergency-moments for generations, and video games are bequeathing safe emergencies upon the rest of us by the billions. I refer to men because women are more suited for the changing world; it's closer to what their world has always been. [Although, to speak archetypically, reality TV is their first-person-shooter.]

One thing we're going to see much less of is marriage and civil union. Partnership is great, but a life-long arrangement is rooted in a much more emergency-oriented world. Of course there are other incentives for partner-loyalty but there's a reason we're not seeing a ton of marriages last longer than seven years. Women are completely independent, and the invention of day-care marked the end of the male CEO era. In fact, at this point--as a whole--women seem entirely more capable than post-industrial men. When's the last time you heard of a girl dropping out of school? Video games and getting laid are strictly leisure activities for women, not the heart of their bio-neurological agenda. In fact, I think we're finding that masculinity in general is biologically out-dated. Autism, ADHD, color-blindness, sickle-cell anemia, hemophilia (okay, bad example), are all telling us that the Y chromosome has over-stayed its welcome. [Sure, there are tons of diseases that only women get, but that's only because women have more parts.]

We live with fewer and fewer emerging situations, and more and more predictable outcomes. Don't be fooled by the media, I know it seems like terrorist attacks and school shootings happen every day. Those are estuarial outliers of converging systems--the settling of our post-industrial house. Their frequency is exaggerated by your TV, your water-cooler and your neural highlighter-pen which says, "Look at this mess! All I notice is the yellow!" Honestly, when's the last time YOU PERSONALLY experienced a week that was wildly unlike what you expected? Inconveniences do pop up often enough, automobiles are probably the last roaming sabertooths [which, by the way--I'm guessing--means "teeth like a sword". Sweet!]. But emergencies are a hierarchy, and when we go long enough without fighting for our lives, our bodies treat road-construction like a warring tribe, even if our brain "wants" to keep listening to Learn Spanish on CD.

In summary, the general lack of REAL emergencies in our daily lives keeps babies relatively safe, which lets women flourish and leaves men to subsist on porn, video games, sports and divorce. [An argument can be made--much to the etymological delight of generations to come-- that all surrogate activities which lend males the artificial sensation of agency should be called "porn".] And we're all so in love with plans that any new situation--in modern English--constitutes an emergency.

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