asperity

Sesquiotica

It is a season of much asperity.

Yes, there is, as Samuel Johnson wrote in The Rambler, “The nakedness and asperity of the wintry world.” But there is also, as he wrote another time in the same periodical, much “Quickness of resentment and asperity of reply” – if not in our personal daily lives, then certainly in the larger world. (Thanks to the OED for the quotes.) As we traipse through the precipitation, we could aspire to something much more auspicious: prosperity, sincerity, perhaps a party (or parties). Something to leave a better taste in the mouth.

Taste? To me, asperity has a clear taste, and that taste is the taste of Aspirin. Have you every chewed an Aspirin? It is acetylsalycylic acid, and as such is as sour as ascorbic or acetic acid (vitamin C or vinegar), but since Aspirin also contains cornstarch, hypromellose, powdered cellulose, and triacetin…

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