July 19, 2007


tortuous \TOR-choo-us\, adjective:
1. Marked by repeated turns and bends; as, "a tortuous road up the mountain."
2. Not straightforward; devious; as, "his tortuous reasoning."
3. Highly involved or intricate; as, "tortuous legal procedures."

The attempts to substitute machines, methods of mass production, for the slow manual labour of antiquaries and historical researchers have all broken down; we still rely on those who spend their lives in painfully piecing together their knowledge from fragments of actual evidence, obeying this evidence wherever it leads them, however tortuous and unfamiliar the pattern, or with no consciousness of any pattern at all.
-- Isaiah Berlin, The Sense of Reality: Studies in Ideas and their History

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