Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Conceits - Concepts of the Mind

Opening C.E.O. Carter's Encyclopaedia of Psychological Astrology at random, I landed on the page containing his thoughts on "Conceit". I'll begin with those, but conceit is a tricky word, there's more to be investigated.
Intellectual conceit is most often found under a Virgo ascendant. Although generally retiring, in a physical sense, the natives of this sign are generally blessed with "a good conceit of themselves" - to do them justice, not often without grounds, so far as mentality goes. This conceit is probably at bottom compensatory in nature, i.e. the native is conscious of his shyness (which is an instinctive fear of others) and compensates himself with an inner conviction of superiority. Further, Virgo, as a general rule, does not reap in material things the success to which its intellect would appear to entitle it, and again conceit arises as an inner compensation for outward failure.

Jupiter square Sun in mutable signs often bestows mental conceit. The same aspect in fixed signs gives rise to a feeling of general self-laudation, and this finds clearest expression if Leo rises. Falling in cardinal signs there is generally too great self-confidence and a conceited belief in one's own powers of doing things, and this is most clearly seen if Aries rises.

Sun weak in Pisces often gives vanity and too great self-satisfaction, and Moon weak in Leo often has the same effect.

It is probable that in those respects Neptune acts much as Jupiter does, but more subtly, often through forms of imaginative self-flattery and self-glorifying daydreams.
I'll make no comment on the above, other than that I suspect the position of Mercury and aspects to it must have a big part to play, conceit being a concept of the mind about oneself. I can't think, immediately, of anyone with whom I've been closely associated who I considered to be conceited, so I'm unable to decide how accurate Mr Carter's assessments were. A passing reader with relevant experience might have other ideas.

The word conceit, wearing another hat, has meanings not always as immediately clear-cut as when wearing its better-known hat of "excessive pride in oneself".
Oxford dictionary:
conceit :: noun
1. excessive pride in oneself : he was puffed up with conceit. See notes at egotism, pride.
2. a fanciful expression in writing or speech; an elaborate metaphor : the idea of the wind’s singing is a prime romantic conceit.
• an artistic effect or device : the director’s brilliant conceit was to film this tale in black and white.
• a fanciful notion : he is alarmed by the widespread conceit that he spent most of the 1980s drunk.
I always look for a word's origin to assist in its understanding. Conceit, the noun, comes from a Latin verb meaning "to conceive", it works on a pattern similar to the words deceive/deceit, receive/receipt. So, when wearing its other hat (or both hats really, I guess) conceit relates broadly to something conceived by the mind - a conceit: a conception, an idea, an opinion, an imagination, a device, a fanciful invention. Stretched somewhat in this way, its meaning hasn't always been crystal clear to me.

Skimming through Google links I picked up a few uses of the word wearing its secondary hat:

the conceit of self-loathing (HERE)

Could be taken two ways - is it conceit as in a kind of inverted pride, or conceit as an idea?

That show, titled, suitably enough, ‘The Apparent Author’, adhered strenuously to a single conceit, albeit with subtle variations. Every sentence had been plucked from the Oxford English Dictionary, composed for the very purpose of illustrating – exemplifying – the given meaning of a listed word. Ringborg had then taken each sentence and dislocated it from its original intent, wedging it into a new context where it was made to perform differently, and made to mean something else. (HERE)

It is no mere conceit that poets have long attributed their craft to something akin to a mystic trance brought about by their Muse.......... So it takes more than a facility with language, a good memory, and the gentle conceit that we would like to share our cleverness with an admiring public. (HERE)

Both hats in use there!

Part of the unspoken contract we make as members of an audience is putting aside our knowledge that these are actors playing roles, and accept the conceit that we are seeing the characters. It's called suspension of disbelief, and it is something we choose to do. (HERE)

Hawking's Fatal Conceit: Is science even capable of showing that God is out of a job? (HERE)

It's one of the great gifts of having so little money that you are able to make these kinds of radical conceits that you could never afford to do had you had a reasonable budget. (Quote by - Todd Solondz. HERE)


mike said...

Defining conceit as an overblown ego, I'd say that most individuals employ that condition at various times. It's another one of those "in the eyes of the beholder", as rarely does one consider their own, personal conceit to themselves...we are more likely to think that we are proud (satisfied) rather than conceited (excessive). It takes one ego to recognize it in the other, which may be a case of double conceit.

Your essay today is, in itself, a conceit..."an idea, an opinion, an imagination, a device"...the conceit of the word conceit...LOL!

Language skills ain't what they used to be. Our modern era tends to punish an author using fancy, high-falutin words or the lesser known meaning of common words, as if the author-speaker is at fault and not the reader-listener. That author-speaker is prone to be viewed as pretentious, conceited, and-or possibly stupid. It seems the game now is to reduce common word phrases into acronyms.

Last night, I read an article about the hamburger icon (the common menu icon on most digital devices):
The word skeuomorph was used at the end of the article:
And this led to mimesis:
And this led to simulacrum:

I've become too fragile in the brain to retain new words, the same for names of new acquaintances, if I don't use them frequently. I enjoy reading unfamiliar words that perfectly convey a meaning or thought that more common words wouldn't have sufficed.

LB said...

We watched "The Homesman" last night. The character played by Hilary Swank was an example of someone fully aware of (and honest about) her strengths and weaknesses - based on other people's perceptions and values and without conceit. Aside from the superficial values imposed upon her as a woman, I don't think realized her true and innate worth as a person. Or maybe she did.

It's a powerful movie.

Anonymous said...

Conceit ...

For the Oxfordian view ...
I find myself in possession of number 1, in no small measure ...
... As for number two ... its ongoing effluence is continuous ...

Mugsy says it's also "Where the criminals sit"

As for poesy ...
Can you imagine being at table with Oscar and Lord Byron?



Twilight said...

mike ~ I agree that we all experience a touch of, perhaps private, conceit about some aspect of ourselves at certain points in our lives, and that it could equally be dfined as pride or satisfaction of a challenge met or job done well. Someone conceited about all facets and aspects of themself has to surely be a very rare bird, or so I suspect.

And yes, blogging itself is a conceit, I guess.

Well...thanks some new words to me in your 4th para. I'd come across simulacrum before but not the other two. And I wasn't aware of the "hambuger" term for that little three dash icon on my toolbar (an icon I've never used).

High fallutin' words have their place...somewhere... but I'm with
Hemingway and King :-) ~~~

“Poor Faulkner. Does he really think big emotions come from big words? He thinks I don’t know the ten-dollar words. I know them all right. But there are older and simpler and better words, and those are the ones I use.” Ernest Hemingway

“Any word you have to hunt for in a thesaurus is the wrong word. There are no exceptions to this rule.”
Stephen King

Twilight said...

LB ~ Yes - that's true! The novel is likely to expand more on Mary Bee Cuddy's personality - one of these days I shall find a copy and read it.

It is powerful, agreed - I'm surprised it didn't get more of a fanfare when first released.

Twilight said...

Anonymous/kidd ~ "Puffed up" are yer, kidd? Well, well, well - you're the rare bird I mentioned in reply to mike (above) - I enjoy the sight of a rare bird.

Agreed about #2 ;-D

Trust Mugsy to have it down pat. That's the best definition yet. He should get himself a job at the Oxford Dic.

No, I cannot imagine that! It could be interesting to be a fly on the wall though, or a server listening in (more my fit).

mike (again) said...

Not to sound conceited (LOL), but Faulkner doesn't use many $10 words in his poetry and novels. His writing style is considered complex syntax and Hemingway's style is considered simple syntax. Both authors wrote American classics, both won a Nobel Prize in Literature, and Faulkner won an additional two Pulitzers.

"Though the two writers never met, they corresponded through letters and were always conscious of the other's reputation. Hemingway was a fiercely competitive writer. He used to compare his reign in writing to the reign of a heavyweight boxing champion. In Faulkner, Hemingway found a serious opponent, one who could very well threaten his self-proclaimed title of 'The Champ.' Faulkner won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1949 (though was awarded it formally in 1950), and two Pulitzer Prizes, one in 1955 for his novel, A Fable and one awarded posthumously for The Reivers (1962). Faulkner also holds the distinction of co-writing one of the best screenplays for Hemingway's novels. In the 1944 film, To Have and Have Not, Lauren Bacall says to Humphrey Bogart: 'You know how to whistle, don't you, Steve? You just put your lips together and blow.' We have Faulkner to thank, in part, for that memorable line.

As with many of his writing contemporaries, Hemingway both praised and criticized Faulkner. At times, he called him 'the best of us all' and wished he had his talent. At other times, he said that one could not reread Faulkner and had to 'wade through a lot of crap to get to his gold.' Tension between the two mounted in 1947 when Faulkner made a seemingly innocent remark about Hemingway's courage (from a literary perspective), stating that the author has 'never climbed out on a limb' and 'never used a word where the reader might check his usage by a dictionary.' True to form, Hemingway took this as an attack on his manhood and went as far as to have one of his distinguished military friends, Colonel Charles T. (Buck) Lanham send Faulkner his own eyewitness accounts of Hemingway's 'grace under pressure.' Faulkner later apologized."

Twilight said...

mike (again) ~ You're a far more experienced reader than I am, so I'll take your word for it. :-)

Professional jealously happens, then - even between the best of 'em!