Monday, March 06, 2006

Occulted etymology

In the summer of 1993 a very impressive manoeuvre was put in place to occult the documents.....
SFO report on David Mills

Having never heard this use of the word before it was interesting to etymologise a tad:


Nota bene:

Latin occultus, secret and past participle of occulere, to cover over


To become concealed or extinguished at regular intervals: a lighthouse beacon that occults every 45 seconds.

Makes the use of the word even more interesting in the current financial/political embroglio

Running with this a little: there are words which, despite their various meanings, hold the reader on the page momentarily. No matter how many times meaning is checked, one seems to override others. As I re-read this phrase I get a faint whiff of Aleister Crowley. Images of documents laid out on ground being circled by naked forms in the dead of night.

Now I've come across it in text I will make a small survey to see if occulted pops up anywhere else. I am expecting to find it in academic texts, but this usage smacks of doctors notes. In fact the medical definitions are:

1. Hidden; concealed
2. Detectable only by microscopic examination or chemical analysis
3. Not accompanied by readily detectable signs or symptoms

Not surprising to find it in a SFO report, then, what with all the Latin jargon of ages in law. Expecting a simple 'hide' would be too much. Here hiding a simpler meaning behind a more obscure word is the norm.


The first two or three pages of occluded in Google were astronomy and science related:

The Astronomy of occultations, etc.

The first ordinary headline with occluded:

The 90th Commemoration of a Denied and Occulted Genocide!

The 'occluded character' pops up once. This is much better than hidden. This word is growing on me.

Occulted power transforms and deconstructs the violent heterosexual yoking comprising patriarchal dominance.
Shakespeare's Celtic Imaginary


which is a completely shut door to me, but the paragraph:

The trace, where the relationship with the other is marked, articulates its possibility in the entire field of the entity, which metaphysics has defined as the being-present starting from the occulted movement of the trace. The trace must be thought before the entity. But the movement of the trace is necessarily occulted, it produces itself as self-occultation. When the other announces itself as such, it presents itself in the dissimulation of itself.

makes me suspect this is the sort of source for the spread of the use outside technical writing.

The Seventeenth Century of Occultation & Surface
(1) .....belonging to an occulted time.

(2) As such there are no signifiers in circulation, as in the familiar Freudian theory of the unconscious, in which connections are made in the hid­den or occulted psychical paths of the un­conscious.


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