Tuesday, 16 January 2018

There Should Be a Word For It

Lest anyone accuse me of only ever wanting to expunge new words from English, I've decided to start an occasional series of posts on words that I think are lacking in our language - and I'd welcome any suggestions from others, if they feel there are inadequacies in the vocabulary of our tongue.

The word that does not spring to mind today is the one that should exist to represent the all too regular, (for me at least), experience of visiting a place and seeing through a shop window a thing that I would really, really like to buy but being unable to because the shop is closed while the owners are off on holiday, or because it's Maria Himmelfahrt or early closing day.

So many treasures I couldn't have are piled up in my memory, more lustrous than they ever would have been if I'd been able to go into the stores where I saw them and pay and carry them off. Perhaps there should be a word for that too - the mind's gift for inflating the value of things it can't have. But perhaps that is covered by "nostalgia" or "longing" or "nostalgic longing" or "covetousness" or "romanticisation" or "idealisation" or "delusion".

Many would say that, however you describe the desire to possess things, that desire itself is just foolish, as possessions mean nothing, (you can't take things with you et cetera, et cetera). Those people though ignore the pleasure of living with things that you think are beautiful, things made long ago by skilled, patient, mostly unsung craftsmen and artists.

In addition, if you follow the logic of the "you-can't-take-it-with-you brigade", where exactly do you end up, because you can't take anything with you, including intangibles like love and learning and success? All human activity, from this perspective, is worthless and futile. While I'll happily agree that human activity, including -or especially- blog writing, is absurd, I don't think that means one shouldn't plunge on absurdly in whichever harmless way we choose.

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