One evening in Toronto, Atwood invited me to her home, where we sat in its spacious kitchen on tall stools at a counter, overlooking her wintry, barren-looking garden. Graeme Gibson poured three glasses of whiskey while Atwood sorted through Christmas cards, dispensing with the chore as efficiently as if she were slicing rhubarb. I remarked on an aspect of “Oryx and Crake” that had moved me. The protagonist, Snowman, apparently left alone in the world, strives to remember unusual words he once knew. Atwood writes, “Valance. Norn. Serendipity. Pibroch. Lubricious. When they’ve gone out of his head, these words, they’ll be gone, everywhere, forever. As if they had never been.” Reading this passage in recent months led me to think about the catastrophic devaluation of intellection that seems to have occurred in American society: the willful repudiation of rigorous thinking, and objective facts, that helped propel Trump to victory. I remarked to Atwood that it felt like a prescient metaphor.Why does crap like that keep happening?! It's like it's a... catastrophic devaluation of intellection.
It seems that these days all trains of thought lead to Trump. But perhaps the pibroch summoned him.
Pibroch? What does it mean? We know "lubricious," but "pibroch"? Here it is in Sir Walter Scott's "Lady of the Lake":
No rude sound shall reach thine ear,
Armor's clang or war-steed champing
Trump nor pibroch summon here
Mustering clan or squadron tramping.