I came across an unfamiliar word to me, thisness in the following sentence of New Yorker magazine’s (April 19) article titled, What We’re Reading: Buzzfeed, “Pulphead,” Chekhov, and More”
James Wood explains why the selection and elaboration of seemingly irrelevant detail is what makes fiction real. Details that appear true, he writes, have a quality of “thisness.”
By thisness, I mean any detail that draws abstraction toward itself and seems to kill that abstraction with a puff of palpability, any detail that centers our attention with its concreteness….
By thisness I mean the moment when Emma Bovary fondles the satin slippers she danced in weeks before at the great ball at LaVaubyessard. Thisness is often used to puncture ceremonies like funerals and dinners that are designed precisely to euphemize thisness; what Tolstoy calls making a bad smell in the drawing room.
Though none of Oxford, Cambridge, and Merriam Webster English dictionary registers the word, thisness, I found the definition of thisness, in Wikipedia which defines it as the translation from Latin, haecceitus meaning the qualities, properties or characteristics of a thing which make it a particular thing.
Is thisness, a popular English word? If thisness has currency, can we say thatness, theyness, or even I-ness, we-ness, here-ness, there-ness?
Isn’t there smoother and more familiar word than thisness, which sounds somewhat crude to me?