Wednesday, February 01, 2006

The World in a Word

The World in a Word


Robert Leslie Fielding

The word 'invention '  - "the act or process of inventing" has many synonyms, and these can be listed under the headings - creation, creativity and fiction.

Under 'creation' we get the words -      brainchild
               and of course -      creation

Under the heading 'creativity', we get     genius
                           and          creativity     
Under 'fiction' the following appear        fabrication
                    and          fiction     

The world (of language, at least) in the word 'invention' and its semantic family conjures up a fascinating list.

First take the world of people - famous people - and think about the qualities shown by the illustrious.

Sherlock Holmes was well known for his ingenuity and resourcefulness, Edison for in inventiveness, Mozart for his genius, and Heath Robinson for his contraptions.  The discovery of penicillin was Alexander Fleming's doing and the originality in James Joyce's work is also well known.

We have designs on things without designing anything, tell complete fabrications in court, spin yarns in pubs, forge documents and lie in our teeth in court and perjure ourselves, and we bear false witness without it being necessary to mention the word  'falsehood'.

Things can be figments of our imagination, or else we let our imagination run away with us on occasions.  We are asked to use our imagination, exercise it, but not be a product of it. We either lack imagination or have a fertile imagination.  Our imagination is captured or else something beggars the imagination or stretches it, and occasionally, it doesn't take much imagination to come to some conclusion or other

Lastly, The Creation is either the oratorio by Haydn or more properly, it is God's handiwork.  Our creativity is perhaps what distinguishes us from lower orders of creatures

Everybody knows that Mozart, Einstein and Picasso had the quality of genius in abundance, and there is the well known genius of the English for gentleness and anti-militarism, and respect for liberty and the rule of law.  Oscar Wilde once famously remarked that he had nothing to declare but his genius, and his plays have been variously described as works of genius or even pure genius.

The world is reflected in the language we use to describe everything in it and everything we do.  The word represents a microcosm of that world.

Robert L Fielding  


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