July 26, 2014

A New Twist on an Old Theme

Just found in Mary Ruefle's Madness, Rack, and Honey a paragraph that puts me in mind of a theme I've dealt with before

Once this thought crossed my mind: every time an author dies, out of respect a word should also pass out of being. A word the author loved and used repeatedly in writing—that word should be his and die with him. Nabokov: quiddity. But who should decide? The one who passes or the one who is left bereft? And who is the real widow? It is language herself, and her decision is clear: she does not want one of her children to throw herself into the grave pit of an old man. Quiddity: the essence of a thing, also, a trifling point, a trivial, inessential thing.