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Wednesday, 18 November 2020

Nuts and Bolts: paracosm.

A paracosm is a detailed and intensely imagined world, created over a long period, especially one created by children.

 Terry Pratchett's Discworld is an example of a paracosm, and so is Tolkien's Middle Earth, and so are the Kingdoms invented by the Brontes as children.

 A paracosm has to be carefully imagined. It might have its own politics, physics, and even its own languages.

 Paracosms have been around, I suspect, as long as there have been humans to invent them, but the idea of paracosms as something distinct is quite new. It was first described in 1976 by Robert Silvey, a BBC researcher (I'm sorry, I don't know the context). The idea was developed by Stephen A MacKeith and David Cohen, a psychiatrist and a psychologist, respectively.

 The term paracosm was coined by Ben Vincent, who helped with Silvey's study.

 Since then, various interested parties have leapt upon the idea and prodded it all over to see what went ouch! There are those who associate the invention of a paracosm with high intelligence and high creativity, and those who link it to bereavement in early childhood. Some think paracosm is an extension of the 'invisible friend' idea.

 Now, as a serial paracosmist, myself, I should be able to answer these questions. Do I have high intelligence? Oh dear...I'm not even sure what intelligence is, let alone whether I have an unusual quantity of it. High creativity? I'm always making stuff, whether it's pictures or books, so I suppose I should probably give that one a cautious tick, if only for effort. Bereavement as a child? Well, I'm adopted, so for all practical purposes yes to that one.

 It's odd though. I suppose I've always known that not everyone has their own paracosm, or paracosms. But I can't imagine why not.

 It seems such a delightful and obvious thing to do.

 Thing To Consider Today: a paracosm. I would imagine this word is made up of the Greek para, meaning beyond, or alongside, and the Greek word kosmos which means order, world, or universe.


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