Monday, May 12, 2008


Using Sontag's On Photography for a paper about Weegee's Naked City, came across the word quiddity:
The photographer’s ardor for a subject has no essential relation to its content or value, that which makes a subject classifiable. It is, above all, an affirmation of the subjects thereness, its rightness (the rightness of a look on a face, of the arrangement of a group of objects), which is the equivalent of the collector’s standard of genuineness; its quiddity – whatever qualities make it unique (77).

Sometimes words are great because they are onomatopoeitic.
Sometimes words are great because they sound like nonsense but convey a definition you've been looking to signify with one word for quite sometime.

Quiddity, for me, goes into the latter category.

Oh language, you're so terribly, terribly flawed, and yet...


Risa Shoup said...

I do indeed realize that quiddity employs the latin root quid, meaning what, as in quid pro quo, so I am sure that might allow some/most of you to disagree with my assertion that it "sounds like nonsense." I guess I'm just trying to point out the shear ability to glean the meaning of a word like moist (or splat) from its sound and a word like quiddity. Also will concede that most onomatopoeias describe a quality to be perceived by the senses.

Clearly, I'm fucking procrastinating about this paper.

Donald said...

i also appreciate the creation of "thereness" as a word. too bad you had a paper to write...

a sadisfying post, if i do say so myself