Sam Bowker: The Grand Tour Diary (2005 - 2006)

This is the archived journal of a 2005-2006 'Grand Tour' around the Eastern Mediterranean and along East Africa, written by Sam Bowker, whilst in search of his PhD topic.

Friday, August 05, 2005

So, why Tourbilon?

Tourbilon is one of many archaic words meaning 'whirlwind'. Such words include Turbilon, Turbillion, Torbilion, Tourbeilon, and have primarily been sourced from old French and English during the centuries when spelling was lackadaisical and phonetic.

The term links into the early use of the word 'tour', which once meant to move in a circular manner. My Grand Tour [for more info, check out this too] is essentially a circular path around the Eastern Mediterranean. Other words with an ancestry connecting to Tourbilon include "turbine", "turbulent", "tournament" (as in, a series of challenges in a ring or arena), and "tourniquet". Perhaps the most frequent use of this term now is to describe a strange clock mechanism designed to counter gravity's effects by revolving around the center of a clock, rather than sitting hidden behind the clock's face. Read into this what you will.

The concept of 'whirlwind' also ties into a song I particularly like by a Melbourne-based band called Architecture in Helsinki ("Do the Whirlwind"), but this is incidental.

The name seems apt, and I happen to like these kinds of archaic terms.


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