I.A. Richards is a familiar name from my college years. He was an important critic in the heyday of the New Criticism (which has long since stopped being “new” but is still a useful approach to literature).
My friend Jane McGinnis sent me an intriguing article that included Richards’ 100 Words Most Important in English. You can read the article here: https://www.thoughtco.com/important-words-in-english-1692687
Although Richards predated postmodernism, his list includes four words important to postmodern thought: copy, name, natural, and use.
One omission from the list surprised me: imagination. Every moment of our lives is an imagining. There are no neutral events – there’s a sense in which we are always dreaming. Richards seems not to have read Carl Jung or James Hillman – but that’s not a complaint. Nobody can read everything!
What I’m hoping you’ll do is come up with your own list. (It doesn’t have to be 100 words!) Can you see something in a word that others can’t?
I’m thinking of Hillman, of course (imagine, soul, destiny, childhood) – and Derrida (write, copy, natural). Heck – I could include John Lennon with imagine. And I will.
And then there’s Paul Tillich. How many minds did he open when he wrote so powerfully about the words salvation, sin, and grace?
What words have special meanings to you?