Hootlessness: The state of mind in which you don't give a damn--or a hoot--about whether or not you achieve your goals, a condition others have called "detachment" or "satori." "Hootlessness" was coined by Lester Levenson, founder of the Sedona Method (motto: "Happiness, Success, and Freedom through Letting Go").
In the December 2006 issue of The Vocabula Review, Valerie Collins muses on the Englishness of hootlessness. Access to the full story is restricted to subscribers; here's an excerpt:
The beautiful thing about -ness (and other Germanic suffixes like -hood, -ship, and so on) is that you can just stick it on the end of your adjective, the fully fledged word. You don't have to modify the adjective in any way, chop bits off it, or change its pronunciation or stress pattern. So, it binds with simple everyday adjectives: happiness, ugliness, sogginess, silliness, Frenchness. It can be attached to derived adjectives: whiteishness, mellifluousness, voluptuousness, restiveness, zestfulness, powerlessness, homelessness, Canadian-ness, combined-ness (found in a scholarly paper on translation terminology). It's just as easy and natural to make -ness nouns from compound adjectives: openmindedness, streetwiseness, strawberry-blondeness, good-blokeishness, error-proneness, earth-centeredness.
We can make fabulous plays on words like PowerPointlessness, meaning the use, in a Power Point presentation, of fancy transitions, sounds, and other effects that have no discernible purpose, use, or benefit. In a word, bells and whistles. We can argue about the presidentialness of the aspirants to the White House. And where would Chaos Theory be if we couldn't talk about randomness and orderliness?
And, of course, the Nessiest of them all: stick-to-it-tiveness, a good word to ponder as you compose your list of New Year's resolutions. Happy 2007!
Photo by Oybay.