Lexicon Big Year: Apr 8


Apr 8: Steven Poole’s word is ikigai, which has, according to him, “become a lifestyle trend in anglophone countries,” though I’d never heard of it. Poole describes its meaning as a meld of raison d’être or vocation/calling, some kind of fundamental sense of meaningfulness. Yet he says “it can also describe small daily pleasures such as drinking coffee in the sun.” All of which baffles. Poole compares it briefly to that Danish puzzlement, hygge. I roll both of them around my tongue: hygge … ikigai.

My personally gleaned word for April 8 is sympatric. Never heard of it? I don’t blame you, it’s an academic word from biology denoting two species that coexist, without interbreeding, even though they’re very similar. What seems to happen is that the two species fit into the environment at different levels or in different places or with different foods, etc. Why am I so attracted to this? Because it keeps popping up in my research on Cranes and there are plenty of cases where two different species of Cranes are sympatric. And don’t you think sympatric sounds sweet?

Source: A Word for Every Day of the Year by Steven Poole.

Musings of Christos Tsiolkas

Christos Tsiolkas (Age photo)

One of my favorite novelists (although I confess I haven’t yet tackled “Damascus“, which came out late last year), Christos Tsiolkas is also a trenchant, brutally honest commentator on our modern world. In this morning’s Age/Sydney Morning Herald, his “Were so many of us wrong?” essay spoke to me more than many of the surging chorus of prognosticators about the post-Covid-19 world.

Tsiolkas has an uncanny ability to merge the commonplace of what is occurring with much taller questions. Beginning with his last-minute flight home to Melbourne from a literary festival schedule in UK, he describes the growing sense of splintering uncertainty. Now (at the time of writing, after six days of isolation), he finds that, “Refracted through the changes brought about by the virus, the recent past seems an aeon ago. All the same, it has made me thankful for the present moment. Real time.” That’s something I’ve also experienced. As I have, Tsiolkas ponders what recent myths of existence have been shattered beyond recovery. “After the past few months,” he writes, “after these transformations, can a writer still adhere to certainty?”

(Photo from article)