Reification

I’m reading Frederic Jameson, a Marxist critic, for a presentation for lit theory tonight. This guy is complicated and brilliant and fascinating, but I have to stop at the end of every sentence and break down what he says (and sometimes those sentences go on and on and on and on…).

As a result of his brilliance, I keep stumbling across words I’ve never seen before. Right now, I’m puzzling over the word “reification.”

The root word is “reify,” a verb meaning to make an abstract concept more concrete (something I’ve been doing with every sentence of Jameson’s that I’ve read).

But when I first read the word, I thought, “Who decided that we could ‘if’ again?” Yeah, that’s weird, I know, but Jameson is making up words, so maybe.

The word is actually derived from the Latin root re-, which means “thing.” So…”reify” essentially means to “thing-ify.”

And this is a scholarly word.  Who are these people who make these words? And how can I be one of them?

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3 thoughts on “Reification

  1. casuist says:

    All you need is a PhD in the humanities and a little imagination to develop your own neologisms. George Lakoff just came up with “bicconceptual”, a term as ugly as it is useless.

    http://www.truth-out.org/article/george-lakoff-warns-dems-reality-based-arguments

    To reify, or reification, is a useful term, however. Too often you will discover otherwise really smart people ascribing agency to abstract concepts as if they were things in this world with wills and intentions of their own, like, say, the term “bi-conceptual”.

  2. Reification. Nice. I’ll have to use that one in conversation these week.

    I love making up words within my papers (i.e. all-encomassingly) 😉

    It’s Harrison’s fault.

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