1

SENTENCE: These capilliaries of power can be so innocuous, even commonsensical, as to be undetectable.

I think what confuses me most is the "as to be" part of the sentence and I'm not sure when to use it because I don't fully understand how to use it. I think what this sentence is saying is: power is such an intuitive, low-key part of society that people don't notice it.

3

A dictionary defintion of the idiom is "Similar enough to something as to become it." It is generally used in a pattern "X is so Y as to be Z"

It can often be replaced with "... that it is ...", in your example (slightly edited):

These capillaries of power are so innocuous that they are undetectable.

Capillaries are the smallest blood veins, and capillaries of power is a metaphor, power is imagined to be flowing into every part of society the way that blood flow from the heart to the smallest muscle. Innocuous means "having no harmful effect". So I think your interpretation is correct.

|improve this answer|||||
2

Something can be so X as to {VERB} + {COMPLEMENT}

Here are some example uses:

Tea can be so hot as to be undrinkable.

Siblings can look so much alike as to be mistaken for each other.

so + {QUALITY} means "possessing {quality} to such a degree". The pattern is often complemented by a clause that expresses the result or implications of having the said quality to such a degree. as to + VERB is just one of the ways of complementing it.

The days were so torrid as to present a real risk of heat-stroke.

The days were so hot, (that) we could never play tennis after breakfast-time.

He was so skilled as to have every expectation of being a first-round NBA draft-pick.

He was so quick and deadly with the jab as to be a definite contender for the middleweight boxing title.

The train was so unpredictable as to be a totally useless and unreliable way to get to work on time.

|improve this answer|||||

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.