Saturday, September 30, 2017

Multipotentialites of the World, Unite!

If you're new here, this is a weekly column consisting of letters written to my grandchildren (who exist) and my great-grandchildren (who aren't here yet) -- the Stickies -- to haunt them after they become grups and/or I'm dead.

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Irregularly Appearing Imaginary Guest Stars
Marie-Louise -- My sublime, drop-dead gorgeous muse (right shoulder) and back scratcher 
Iggy -- Designated Sticky
Dana -- Designated gentlereader (left shoulder)

"A cat is a dilettante in fur." -Theophile Gautier

Dear (eventual) Grandstickies & Great-Grandstickies,

"I spend an inordinate amount of time online due to the fact that the Internet is ideal for a dilettante and current events junkie." -me

The slightly less than famous quote above is from my website. Specifically, it can be found by clicking on the Just Who Is This Guy Anyway tab and skipping to the seventh paragraph. I wrote it approximately 2.3 years ago and it's still true.

The word dilettante is often, no, usually used in a derogatory manner but I embrace this particular noun semi-proudly (see definition 2 below). More on that in just a sec'.

Merrian-Webster   1: an admirer or lover of the arts
                             2: a person having a superficial interest in an art or branch
                                  of knowledge
                              : DABBLER

Wait a minute. An admirer or lover of the arts? I've never heard anyone...wait a minute, I'll be right back.

[Insert insipid elevator music here]

OK. It's derived from an Italian word, dilettare, which means a person who loves the arts. There's even a Society of Dilettanti that dates to 1734 made up of "noblemen and scholars which sponsors the study of ancient Greek and Roman art...".

How the definition of the word (d)evolved to its current most common use (see definition 2 again) I've no idea. I'd pursue this further but I'm a dilettante and I've already lost interest.

[For the record, while I don't object to the use of the color red as it's the color of all the hyperlinks on the Merriam-Webster website, the fact they capitalized the word DABBLER for no apparent reason, leads me to believe that someone's disdain for dilettantes has colored their judgment.]

Now, looking up the word dilettante in my favorite (Merriam-Webster) online dictionary when I started this letter got me to thinking. It occurred to me that I had never gone in search of a word that meant essentially the same thing as dilettante but sounded way cooler. I found one.

Multipotentialite. For some reason (my discovery that the word dilettante originated in Italy?) I feel compelled to pronounce it with a cheesy Italian accent. Multah - potentia - LEE' - tah. Very cool.

[What was that? Marie-Louise (she's militantly French), did you just make that utterly disdainful sounding noise I'm not even gonna' try to spell? No answer. Looks like I won't be getting my back scratched today.]

According to a Wikipedia article I stumbled on to...

[I was web surfing and don't remember how I got there. This happens to me a lot. If it happens to you a lot you may also be a multipotentialite. Or, maybe one or both us suffers from attention deficit disorder.]

"Multipotentiality is an educational and psychological term referring to the ability and preference of a person, particularly one of strong intellectual or artistic curiosity, to excel in two or more different fields."

Uh oh, "...excel in two or more different fields." While I do have a strong intellectual and artistic curiosity I don't excel at one field much less two or more. I thought that was a Polymath (Merriam-Webster: a person of encyclopedic learning). Hmm. I better go back and reread the Wikipedia article carefully instead of skimming through it like a dilettante. I'll be right back.

[Insert insipid elevator music here]

Ah-Ha! Multipotentiality is the title of the article and it's apparently too new to have an official definition. But, according to the article, it's been used by various people in a way similar to the definition above.

However, Multipotentialite is credited to one Emilie Wapnick.

The Wikipedia article states specifically that "While the term 'multipotentialite' is often used interchangeably with 'polymath' or 'Renaissance Person', the terms are not identical. One need not be an expert in any particular field to be a mulitpotentialite".

Not only that, Ms. Wapnick runs a website for multipotentialites called Puttylike wherein I found the following. "My Definition -- A multipotentialite is someone with many interests and creative pursuits."

It's official, I'm not a just another middlebrow: "...aware of high culture, but is able to balance aesthetic claims with the claims of the everyday world." I'm a freakin' multipotentialite, baby! And yes, Virginia Stickies, middlebrow is not only an actual word it's the subject of a Wikipedia article. Poppa loves you.

Random Randomness: Charlie the Tuna

I wonder, my dear Stickies, if Charlie the Tuna will still be around and traumatizing your children after I've been deleted. I'd forgotten about Charlie but recently discovered, via a commercial on the prime rectangle, that he's still around and still consumed by his disturbing obsession.

In case you're unaware, Charlie's sick and twisted fantasy, since 1961, is to be captured by placing a hook in his mouth and subsequently killed and eaten. I can't help but wonder how much damage has been done over the years by societies favorite vorarephiliac.

Have an OK day.

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©2017 Mark Mehlmauer   (The Flyoverland Crank)

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