Tuesday, May 07, 2013

A Belated Answer to a Riddle

I don't know why I never followed up on this pangrammatical riddle: What is to hurt as light is to dark?

It's not as easy as I had thought, anyway. One might think it's "balm", but this gives pride of place to hurting. A balm is a "healing ointment" or, metaphorically, a "restorative agency". By contrast, light is not first and foremost an antidote to darkness, it does not just restore what darkness takes away. We run into the same problem with "heal", i.e., to ameliorate hurt, but here etymology gives us a clue. To heal is to "make whole".

So perhaps our answer is this: Whole is to hurt as light is to dark. The problem is that "whole" is already so dialectically (but not necessarily pangrammatically, I now think) wedded to "part". What about his: Weal is to hurt as light is to dark.

Another option is "wield", which evokes "strength". I'll think about it some more.

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