Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Entry:  Kekuléan (adj.)

Definition:   This one gets a bit hairy - Kekuléan as an adjective appears to be a Wallace-ism.  So far as I can determine, the term is derived from German chemist Friedrich August Kekulé von Stradonitz.  His work, in part, focused on the structure of benzenes.  My comfort zone with this sort of stuff faded from the rear-view mirror miles ago, so let’s just say this one is pretty esoteric and no-one will know to what you’re referring, unless you’re at an organic chemistry-intensive cocktail party.

Other:   Feel free to chime in on this one.

SNOOT score: 3 (1 at the aforementioned cocktail party).

Page: 5



  1. Thank you for that! I came to the same conclusion but was wondering whether as a speaker of English as a second language I was missing some American cultural reference...

    1. Wallace is telling us that Hal is autistic, high functioning. His descriptions are very out of focus. Kekule worked on Benzenes. Both Toluene and Ether are intoxicant Benzenes. The neck tie looks like it was tied by someone who was loaded, a drunk perhaps.

    2. I like that observation. Makes sense, haha. From that perspective the description's pretty funny.

  2. It could be a reference to intoxicating materials as referenced above: I personally took the whole phrase "Kekulean knot" to be mean that the knot was like a ring tied in a creative fashion, since Kekule was the first one to figure out that Benzene's structure is a ring of six carbons. The legend goes that he was inspired by a dream of an Ouroboros.

  3. I think its a little simpler than all that. Just look up an image of one of Kekule's diagrams of of benzene double bonds. They are shaped like tie knots.

  4. These both make sense, one for it's descriptive, the other because it's funny.