Saturday, September 14, 2013

Beatific (Wok Blog Entry #2:  Words that are or should be) 


For the longest time, I thought 'beatific' was a mis-spelling of the word beautific.  The latter is not actually a word.  I'm sure people use it.  I know I've heard it.  It's not, however, an interesting word.  After all, beautific would equate to beautiful.  And beautiful, as a word, isn't interesting.  Over-used, it's a throw-away descriptor.  Any writing teacher worth their salt is going to tell you to avoid it like the plague, unless you're describing the plague.    Pustules, pretty pustules, are interesting.

Beatific, on the other hand, is a fascinating word.  It has action associated with it.  Giving bliss.  That's how my absolutely massive dictionary describes it.  Saintly.  It’s a reflective word…one that keys into the speaker rather than the one so observed.  I have spent some time trying to define beatific for myself.  I have used it rarely, only once per recent recall and that in mocking reflection of a one-time friend.  Not my finest moment, as a writer or as a person.  

There are reasons I don’t share all of my work.

But ‘beatific,’ that which gives bliss…what is that?  The preacher at the pulpit?  That first glimmer of pink before the sunrise?  Is that bliss?  Or merely something beautiful?  The preacher is certainly neither.

That first breath of a new bookstore, perhaps, paper and ink and a million undiscovered adventures.  A theatre in the dark, that moment after the curtains go up and the first note rises up from the pit, full of possibility and hope and an evening of forgetting.  Maybe it’s the moment you hit send on a submission, in one instant both published and not, either outcome equally possible.

Maybe none of these things.

Beatific.  Giving bliss.  I think I’m still looking for something that fits.

Beatific.  A real word.  Huh.  



Blogger’s Note:  I discovered my beatific/beautific error a few years ago and have been half in love with the word ‘beatific’ ever since.  Oddly enough, I have used it rarely and only in negative connotations as outlined above regarding my one-time friend.  But the word itself is a positive one and I do keep searching for that space where it fits…positive and affirming…in my writing.  

8 comments:

  1. Beatific: giving bliss. Like the first bite of chocolate. Or that special moment when your grown child hugs you for no reason. Or an unexpected check in the mail.

    I think of bliss as something wonderful, something unexpected that gives you a moment away from stress and challenges. But, that's just my thoughts.

    Great post. :)

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    1. I love all of your examples...am wishing the unexpected check came just a little more frequently. :-D

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  2. I didn't know that was a real word either. I want to use it now. It would work well in edification ;-) Great Post.

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    1. Glad to know I'm not alone in being new to beatific. Thanks for reading!

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  3. Thank you for sharing your discoveries. I'm used to hearing the word used in British literature (back in my college days) or often in guidebooks for art museums ("the Madonna's beatific smile captures the essence of this piece by Rafael," etc.). New vocabulary words are like extra arrows in the author's quiver.

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  4. I browsed your blog last week while prepping for my Sunday Blog Read Run and beatific was stuck in my head the rest of the day. I was thoroughly interested in what it meant and I cycled through a list of possible definitions all of which never quite fit.

    Now, after reading this, I discovered my own instance of understanding that had passed not an hour after learning of the word earlier in the week.

    I was in the shower, where I do all my thinking, rolling beatific around on my tongue when my girlfriend entered the bathroom and dropped her robe with her back to me. She didn't do it sensually or in an erotic fashion, she was just preparing for the warmth of the water. The slow curve of her shoulders as the robe fell was one of the most blissful and beautiful moments I've experienced in recent years. And little did I know that the word I had been playing with was truly the perfect match to the scene unfolding before my eyes.

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    1. Thank you for sharing this...what a lovely moment! :-)

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