February 12, 2011

Menti quolibet ire licet


Recording also available at iPadio using this link.

Today's saying is Menti quolibet ire licet. In English: "The mind may go wherever it wants."

You hear a lot of talk about "academic freedom" which, in my experience, is not all it is cracked up to be (I sure did not experience any "academic freedom" in my brief stint as a tenure-track professor, that is for sure - just the opposite). But regardless of what an institution does or fails to do to protect academic freedom, the mind IS STILL FREE: our minds can go wherever we want them to go. No one can stop you from thinking, imagining, and creating, if that is how you choose to use the powers of your mind. You can use your mind to travel to the surface of another planet, you can use your mind to imagine a world governed by truth and justice - even if you cannot visit such places in bodily form... yet! Menti quolibet ire licet.

There is some lovely word play here in the Latin with the verb licet and the adverbial compound, quolibet, which is made up of the directional quo and libet. The verb licet is what is allowed (as in the root of the English word "license"), and the verb libet is about what you want (as in the Latin word which we also know in English: libido). The sound play between licet and libet nicely reinforces the meaning of the proverb.

For those of you who are fans of macrons, here is the Latin written with macrons:

Mentī quōlibet īre licet.



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