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Words for 2024

Corner. Concave, convex, acute, obtuse, straight, flat, round… In the panorama of angles there is also the dead one. It is infamous for being a road hazard, the damnation of rear-view mirrors. It must be said that this corner, even before being dead, is blind. Indeed, in the space it defines, it is certainly difficult to see but not necessarily to die. However, given the likelihood of losing his life, the corner was stripped of its innocence, it was declared dead – not to say mortal – and thus became a hopeless corner.

Hope. A feeling that one nurtures, sometimes futilely, to achieve uncertain results. The greater the interest in the goal, the greater the hope; when interest is low, hope goes accordingly. Together with determination, courage and endurance, they form a compact quartet striving for the goal. If the outcome is different from what was expected, of the four it is the last to die, hope has crazy resilience, it does not give up until the end, it is capable of defying contrary evidence. Once the limit has been crossed, however, there is nothing left but to invoke a benevolent god, rely on a saint or abandon oneself to fate.

Fate. Mysterious force that regulates men’s lives in unpredictable ways. Divided into good and bad, the universal preference is clearly in favour of the former. For this quality, the most explosive combination sees Fortune and Talent acting together. While luck seems an occasional, gratuitous blessing from heaven, talent is an innate endowment, the spontaneous exercise of a special ability, a flow that is anything but fortuitous. Precisely because of its unstable nature, one would think that luck is of less importance than talent. Instead, she is almost always so decisive that she alone is enough to solve everything. And let talent be doubted as if it were an optional extra.

Optional. Coming into the world and receiving an instruction booklet would be a great help. A car, a blender, a washing machine have it, we humans do not. A handbook to keep at hand, a summary of the operating characteristics of one of the most amazing machines on the planet with a system of operation honed over millions of years. A practical handbook that includes the distinctive aspects of the species, how the body, mind and feelings work and how to deal with them, such as the safety rules to adopt, the care and maintenance to do, how to behave when something goes wrong. And to know from the outset, whether happiness is an integral part of the system or an optional extra, an extravagant idea or an anomaly.

Anomaly. Certainly it is a nuisance, it spoils a calculated plan, it disturbs a supposed idea of perfection in its linear unfolding. But let’s consider the positive side of the anomaly: it allows us to identify a defect to be corrected, to fix something broken or to find even more effective solutions. The anomaly is a trigger for action. It encourages careful observation, cultivating healthy criticism, holding high the values of rebellion. It takes an anomaly to make progress. That’s a lot for an irregularity, isn’t it?