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the spirit of Animus

If you look up the word ‘animus’,
a common simple definition for it is
‘a strong feeling of dislike or hatred’.

But, as Borges said in his Prologue to El otro, el mismo,
"It is often forgotten that (dictionaries) are artificial repositories,
put together well after the languages they define. The roots
of language are irrational and of a magical nature."

The first use of the word in this hostile sense isn't, in fact,
found until the 16th century: before that it’s much more
purely reflective of its Latin source, meaning ‘rational
soul, mind, life, mental powers; courage, desire".

Going still further back, one begins to touch the
magical nature of animus with its proto-Indo-
European root of Ane,’to blow, to breathe’; two
strikingly similar words with the same ancestor are
the Greek anemos, ‘wind’, and Old Irish animm, ‘soul’.

Another relation is anima, ‘life, breath, soul;
a current of air’. From this comes animale
‘living being, thing that breathes’ and animate,
‘to fill with boldness or courage, give life ~ breath ~ to.’

here’s an Animus pinterest board if
you’d like to share some inspirations…

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(above: Nils Udo, Peter Doig and Jason deCaires Taylor.)

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© shen chökyi 2013