Monday 30 September 2019

Cosmic Cosmetics and Una Borrachera Cósmica

The ancient Greeks had the peculiar idea that the universe was very well ordered. How they came to this conclusion is unclear, but it involves Pythagoras and togas. Anyway, they therefore called the universe the kosmos because kosmos just meant orderly arrangement.

From that we get cosmos in English, and from that we get cosmic, which (to some extent) has now come to mean spiritual and airy-fairy. This is a bit odd, because when the word kosmos comes up in the New Testament it means the physical world, as opposed to heaven and the kingdom of God etc.

Anyway, in their occasional breaks from philosophising the Greeks would do what normal people do and try and look nice. For example, they would comb their hair, which they called kosmokomes or hair-ordering. And the whole art of looking good was called kosmetike. It's a contraction of kosmo-tekhne, so etymologically it's cosmos-technique, but in English it has simply become cosmetics.

Which is why your lipstick is cosmic.

All this occurs to me because my book A Short History of Drunkenness has been renamed Una Borrachera Cósmica for its release in Spain, an earth-wobbling event that will occur on Thursday. I think there's also going to be an interview with me in El Mundo on Tuesday. It's all very pleasing because I've been learning Spanish for nearly two years now, but I still don't quite understand the name-change, but a Madrileña friend of mine says it's a splendid name, and tried to explain it all to me over a tinto de verano last month.

Anyhow, you can learn lots more about Una Borrachera Cósmica by following this link. And you can also (and really should) tell all your Spanish friends and relations about it.