Saturday, December 21, 2019

the spelling of Cats

There have been a whole lot, a really whole lot of negative reviews of the new Cats movie (including one, ghu help us, written as a bad Eliot pastiche), but what's amused me is the trouble that a few of the reviewers are having with the Heaviside Layer.

The Heaviside Layer is a real thing; it was a scientific discovery of Eliot's younger years, so he must have come across references to it somewhere. It's the part of the upper atmosphere that reflects radio waves. It got its name from the English physicist who originally postulated its existence, Oliver Heaviside.

But the fact that the musical uses the name as a metaphor for rebirth (it says here) doesn't mean you can respell it as Heavyside Layer or, even worse, Heavenside Layer. Heavenside Layer: that's the kind of normalization to the reviewer's mindset that produced "Nazi-ghoul" in Tolkien.

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