impending immolation

hubocfcool

Senior Member
Chinese
"Audiences in the second decade of the twentieth century found it pleasant to escape to a time when life, though hard, was relatively simple. We still do; living in a world in which undeclared aggression, war, hypocrisy, chicanery, anarchy and impending immolation are part of our daily lives, we all want a code to live by." (CARL FOREMAN Virtue and a Fast Gun from The Observer)

What does "impending immolation" mean?
 
  • hubocfcool

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    What did the author refer to? I mean "undeclared aggression" in this passage can be refer to "Hitler attacking Poland", and "war" can be refer to "World War I and II", so what "impending immolation" can be referred to here?
     

    sdgraham

    Senior Member
    USA English
    "immolate" is one of those words in English where popular usage isn't the same as the dictionary. Many people think it means simply "to burn," but that's not what many, if not all, dictionaries say.


    impend /ɪmˈpɛnd/
    ▶verb (usu. as adj. impending) be about to happen. ■ archaic (of something bad) loom.

    – origin C16: from L. impendere, from in- ‘towards, upon’ + pendere ‘hang’.

    immolate /ˈɪməleɪt/
    ▶verb kill or offer as a sacrifice, especially by burning.
     

    sdgraham

    Senior Member
    USA English
    What did the author refer to? I mean "undeclared aggression" in this passage can be refer to "Hitler attacking Poland", and "war" can be refer to "World War I and II", so what "impending immolation" can be referred to here?
    Given that the author probably is misusing "immolation" to mean "burn," I suspect it can refer to anything from a volcanic eruption to global thermonuclear war.
     

    sdgraham

    Senior Member
    USA English
    So "Impending immolation" can be refer to "Cuban Missile Crisis", is that right?
    Unless you can cite supporting text from the original, I would not make that assumption.

    (I see a lot of quotations from Foreman via Google, but I don't see the original piece.)
     

    scrotgrot

    Senior Member
    English - English
    Immolation could well refer to the fires of a nuclear war, and that is probably the primary meaning. However, that monk's self-immolation was a massive media event from that period, and the tone of the piece seems such that it would allude to iconic scenes. For me, the choice of immolation, rather than conflagration or something similar, echoes this iconic image in a sort of literary way, even if really it means the fires of war or destruction.
     
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