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I'm a Minnesota Girl, living in the south. I tell my friends I try not to talk and think like a Yankee, but sometimes I slip up!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

My "whatness"... Quiddity

In philosophy, quiddity is identity or "whatness," something's "what it is." It comes from the scholastic Medieval Latin term quidditas, "essence," from quid, "what." Quiddity describes properties a particular substance—like a person—shares with others of its kind.
Unlike quiddity, “haecceity” denotes the discrete qualities, properties or characteristics of a thing which make it a particular thing. Haecceity is a person or object's "thisness,” referring to aspects of a thing that make it a particular thing, while quiddity refers to the universal qualities of a thing, its "whatness", those aspects of a thing that it shares with other things.
What we are in common with others, what we are distinct from them. And, finally, what we are.
What is my whatness? And yours? A fox has fox-ness, a crow has crow-ness, and we have…what? What makes you you? Is it possible to answer that question except as “you” is in relationship to other “you’s”?
Rarely, I imagine, is the word “quiddity” used in an obituary (something to aspire to!); that of poet Ted Hughes’ was an exception: “He wanted to capture not just live animals, but the aliveness of animals in their natural state: their wildness, their quiddity, the fox-ness of the fox and the crow-ness of the crow.”
Poets, it would seem, are dipping pens into inkwells every morning after their black coffee and scone corner to do just that: capture quiddity. Ironically, then, quiddity itself is the essence of their work to capture quiddity, an infinite regress of quiddities, a word that quite stops looking like itself once you write it a few times.
~from the 37 Days Blog

Marion found this for me last summer and I posted it on my old blog. Since that time, I've had a lot of days, where, in the midst of the day, I've tried to define my "quiddity", at least on that particular day. So, I resurrected this thought.

I'm a poet, and this morning, after my coffee (with cream), instead of messing with my inkwell, I used another important part of my "whatness", my desire to solve puzzles. Perhaps this lifelong love of puzzles (my family used to do jigsaws together) along with the puzzle that is Scrabble, along with the reading of mystery thriller after mystery thriller, is part of my "whatness". It sure was today!

I don't keep puzzles and rarely do them at home, but a dear friend sent me a lighthouse puzzle, and I'm pretty consumed with lighthouse pictures, so I went at it vociferously in my kitchen. Rain, thunder and lightning abounded (the kitchen nook has big glass windows on two sides, looking out into a beautiful wooded area) while I worked away at my task. I finally disconnected myself (more after dinner) to accomplish errands, laundry and a little cleaning.

A lovely, relaxing weekend. Part of my quiddity!


Kelly said...

Sounds like fun to me! As you know, I love puzzles, too... jigsaw, word, logic.

"Ask Marilyn" in today's PARADE had a new "numbrix" puzzle that I had to try. Nothing mathematical, just logic.

Glad you had a relaxing weekend!

Donna said...

I loved this repeated post and your puzzle day.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend.


Chuck said...

So Quid has both quiddity and, from those old fan of 'W', does that mean some of your properties are discrete qualities????
As usual, a very pondering least the light in your lighthouse is on.....

Serena Joy said...

Quiddity -- what a great concept!

Pam said...

I get in a puzzle mood from time to time. Sam and I started doing the People Magazine crossword each week while waiting for Connor's therapy to end.

Crossword Puzzle are my favs. My kids both love word searches and mazes as well as puzzle puzzles.