Visceral: Of or pertaining to the viscera.
Viscera: The organs in the cavities of the body, especially the abdominal cavity.
Viscus: Singular of viscera
Viscous: Of a glutinous nature or consistency; sticky; thick; adhesive
Vicious: Addicted to or characterized by vice; grossly immoral; depraved; profligate
I could go on looking up definitions of words all day. My vocabulary is so lacking. Visceral, though. That’s a good one.
This word keeps cropping up lately, mostly when people describe their reactions to dramatic events. A visceral reaction: instinctive, possibly even impulsive, wild, presumably a strong response. An animal moment. A moment in which we are not just in touch with our guts but ruled by them. One with them. We are intestines.
[Go ahead. Allow yourself to get strange. Maintaining normalcy is exhausting.]
Visceral is a car wreck, the way time slows down, the way we have no clue, no matter what we tell the police and the insurance adjustor and the other driver, no clue what we did in that split second that allowed us to live. We just remember spinning.
My theory, and I always have one, is that we use these words to reflect more of what we wish we were than what we actually are. We are so goddamned civilized, or at least on the surface, with all our methods and tools. With all our evolution, we are standing up straight, even at an unnatural incline in our shoes, and we are buttoned down and made up and watching the news and trying not to cry because it will damage the five-minute-makeup job we have perfected. I cannot cry over Iran because I will have to explain myself, and I didn’t bring the makeup to patch up, and there is nothing crazier than crying at your laptop because someone across the world got beat up by a cop.
Civilized people know these things happen and do not cry about it.