Wednesday, January 19, 2022

My Word for 2022: Juxtaposition



Whoever placed the roof drain directly over the electrical boxes or placed the electrical boxes under a roof drain probably never heard of ironic juxtaposition nor expected a woman leaving her dentist appointment some decades later to be delighted with the humor and beauty of the iced version of their handiwork. The date of this color-infused photograph is January 4th, 2022. Perfect timing for me to choose a word for this year.   

I am responding to a challenge from The New York Times to select one word. My word for the year. As they point out, when you make a New Year’s Resolution, you are expected to try and complete it. A single word doesn’t have to have the same obligation. If I chose the word diet or heal, I might feel obligated, but there are so many words that lack any compunction to be doing anything. And yet be useful in all seasons.   
My inclination was to choose a word whose sound I liked. Amenable. Serendipitous. Intricate. Silly. Any of these would do, but with the alley view of a potential disaster in mind, I settled on juxtaposition. The Oxford English Dictionary describes juxtapose in this way: Place (two or more things) side by side or close to one another; place (one thing) beside another.

Although I could be compelled all year long to place things side by side (word by word, cocoa by cookies, pens by paper), the word juxtaposition implies that the placing has already been done. My only obligation will be to notice.  

My wry sense of humor encourages me to consider all juxtaposition as ironic. "Ironic juxtaposition is the fancy term for what happens when two disparate things are placed side by side, each commenting on the other.” according to Roy Peter Clark in Writing Tools. I don’t intend to limit myself. After all, I am supposed to have only one word. However so far most of the things I have noticed in January are of an ironic nature. Like the cake and pastry containers above seemingly advertised with a Beer/Wine sign. 

And here are snow-layered heaters looking like elegant Parisian women modeling their hats out in front of the French restaurante Brasserie Four. Snow on heating elements. Score one for winter.

Natures placement holds so many possiblilites. Here is Eeyore on the run—ice laid on rocks. 

I’m set. I'm on the lookout for placements both intentional and serendipitous. Word placed by word, thought by thought, the footfall of one human by the footfall of another. The juxtaposition of things in time and the circumstantial placement of nature in all her ways.