Siderodromophilia and other loves

This is why the Intertubes rock. How easy it is to delve off into tangents. Superficially, such tangential escapes may suggest a threat to concentration, but I see them more as starting point for ceaseless mental explorations. It allows one, to refer to another passion of mine and a conversation I recently had with a friend, to electronically clatter about the world like a pinball.

Here’s one adventure I took:

In compiling another post (I’d say earlier today, but it might happen to be posted after this … don’t you love distraction?) about a transit center proposed for Dodger Stadium, I wanted to refer to myself as a lover of train travel, and I wanted a word for it. I recalled how, a fear years ago, I penned an article for Citations, the newsletter for the Ventura County Bar Association, about lawyers and judges who love trains and remembered the word “Siderodromophilia” bandied about at the time. I don’t quite recall why it didn’t end up in the piece, but perhaps the subjects of my interviews were hesitant their colleagues would think when it came to trains, getting on meant getting off.

In writing my piece about the transit center, I wanted to employ a better word for train enthusiast than the phrase “train enthusiast.” So I tried to recall that word. I checked with my mother, who happens to be the editor of Citations, to see if she could recall what the word was (I couldn’t remember it exactly at that point in this journey). She pointed out a site called The Phobia List and suggested it should point me in the direction of the root word I needed. Searching for “trains” I found “Siderodromophobia,” the fear of train travel, railroads and train travel.From there, I replaced the “phobia” with “philia” in Google and learned “siderodromophilia” means “arousal from riding on trains.”

Yes, I enjoy trains, and there is a certain sensuality in the rhythmic motions (and let’s not mention stock footage and visual double entendres of trains entering tunnels), but that’s not what I was driving at, although there doesn’t seem to be a dictionary definition for simply enjoying trains.

Fortunately, Googling the word siderodromophilia wasn’t as disturbing as I’d feared (If there is a phobia for disgusting or plain trashy Google search results, I couldn’t find it on The Phobia List). What it did, however, was send me cascading around the Internet to some fascinating pages, pages of which I am now presently using to distract myself from my original blog entry about the transit center. Not, mind you pages about siderodromophilia, but pages discussing the act, especially a number of people’s surprise upon learning the word and one person’s amusement toward someone who identified himself as a siderodromophile and another discussion about the etymology of the word itself.

Also of note were a variety of slang dictionaries, many of which were focused on so-called “bizarre sexual practices.” I’ll leave the debates about how we discuss our desires, fantasies and turn-ons and what constitutes “bizarre” to blogs focused on sexuality. Because you can guess what happens if you put “sexuality blog” in Google, I’ll point you to two, erotica writer and educator Susie Bright’s Journal and Violet Blue’s Open Source Sex (If you need a warning, you may encounter nudity and various forms of arousal along the way, but these aren’t porn sites), from which you should be able to dive deeply into discussions and explorations of sex and its intersection with culture, society, politics and technology without losing sapiosexuality street cred (Speaking of which, try the purity test for people with large vocabularies — no, you don’t get to know my score).

Anyhow, I’m really slipping away from a point now, and that is the vast and quickly accessible wealth of information available on the Internet. Yeah, not exactly news, but in this day and age of search engine battles, social networking, narrow-casting, and audience fragmentation, it’s worth remembering that the opportunity in the Internet lies not in its commodification or packaging, but in its wide-open frontier-like nature.

How can one not be fascinated, amused and amazed by the fact that within minutes we can debate the changing possibilities for traversing our physical landscape to traipsing across the electronic landscape?

How can one not enjoy the passion for learning, for education, and for enlightenment a medium like this can spur. Yes, there are dark sides to those potentials in the risk of misinformation, distortion and inaccuracy, but the sheer possibility, I believe, outweighs the threat.


5 responses to “Siderodromophilia and other loves

  1. How does one cop to his EDITOR (yikes!) that he now knows from this erudite post that he may have a touch of the “AXILLISM: The use of the armpit for sex”?

    Well one doesn’t unless he gets to introduce his partner in muckraking to justify the… the… oh hell, I don’t know. Actually, I don’t “use” her armpits for sex, it’s just that hers are so fine that they repeatedly give me a reason for citing “Woodland Hills” as the place I often find myself when confronted with her creamy pits.

    Sorry, Bill. I’ll stick to the strontium-90 and perchlorate next time!


    PS: AWESOME blog but ever since the Dodgers joined the ‘blast sh*t over the big screen at LOUD volume all the damn time,’ I can’t take going there or to major league sports games anymore. At least I can see the UCLA baseball team at the West LA VA with only the sound of groans and the chugglin’ of Olde English 800 to accompany it.

  2. vandal says : I absolutely agree with this !

  3. So what IS the word for a train enthusiast?

  4. How ridiculous that, while Siderodromophobia simply means fear of travelling by train, Siderodromophilia is given a perverse sexual connection, when there is absolutely none in the word. It says something about how some human brains work.

    Think of paedophobia (fear of anything to do with children) and paedophilia.
    Aren’t all parents paedophiles? They certainly should be.

    Then the two newcomers: homophobia and Islamophobia. Here the fear meanings have been deliberately suppressed, and replaced by what is not the original meaning of phobia: hatred. Anyone molested by a homosexual can rightly claim to be homophobic. And, after 9/11, etc, shouldn’t the whole non-Muslim world be Islamophobic?

  5. Are you serious Mr. Hayman? Are you truly serious? You’re somehow linking homophobia and Islamophobia to extrapolating specific acts by individuals to target an entire group with hate? How on Earth can anyone molested by a homosexual “rightly claim to be homophobic?” I’d wager that many, many more molestations are committed by heterosexuals simply due to the fact that there are many, many more heterosexuals in this world. Would that make them “heterophobic?” No. Victims of molestation have a right to their emotions, they have a right even to hate their specific molester, but the right to hate everyone who shares a genetic trait with their attacker?

    Meanwhile, why should the non-Muslim world be Islamophobic after 9/11? The logic really doesn’t get to me. Because the attackers were Muslim? So? The attack happened in September, should we assume then that we should hate September? No, because it’s a ridiculous correlation of one of many characteristics of what occurred that day. I could pick any number of factors about the attackers themselves or the circumstances of the day to have “hatred” toward. Their height. The time of day. Their eye color. The weather. Their names. Whether they were left or right handed. None of these factors alone give me any reason to be fearful, and they definitely don’t give me any reason to be hateful.

    Even so, where do you get this idea that the original meaning of phobia is “hatred?” I don’t have a dictionary with me at the moment, but this is Princeton’s quick definition: n anxiety disorder characterized by extreme and irrational fear of simple things or social situations; “phobic disorder is a general term for all phobias.”

    Meanwhile, I find it hilarious that someone’s posting on this super-long (i.e. 3 years) dormant blog (especially given the nature of the bulk of this post, about the vast amount of information on the Internet). Anyway, being that this blog IS dormant, I doubt I’ll follow up on this post or these comments , just as fair warning if you’re planning to leave more ridiculous comments.

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