Weird… it’s common enough word. Nothing special: just an adjective, meaning something like odd… strange… peculiar… weird…
Strange that the easiest way to define ‘weird’ is to describe it in terms of itself, isn’t it?
Perhaps that’s because, linguistically speaking, ‘weird’ isn’t an adjective at all: ‘weird’ is a noun. It is itself; it is what it is; that’s it.
In which case, if ‘weird’ is supposedly a noun, so what? What is ‘the weird’ anyway? And what’s the point?
If you’ve looked at the other pages in this section (Wyrd and Fate, Wyrd Myths and Wyrd Minds), you’ll have seen that ‘wyrd’ – actually the same as ‘weird’, but usually spelt that way to distinguish it from the adjectival use of the word – is more than just an idea: it’s a complete philosophy, with a long-standing history and tradition behind it. And although it’s an old tradition, it’s one we can use now, to help us make the best of our own everyday lives.
Wyrd is recognised – or at least hinted at – in other traditions too. To Christians, the wyrd is recognised as ‘Providence’, and the sense that ‘the hand of the Lord moves in mysterious ways’. Chinese scholars would recognise it as the Tao, ‘the way’ – and recognise its inherent uncertainty in Lao Tse’s immortal warning that “the Tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao”. And at a more mundane level, every engineer is acutely aware of the wyrd: to them, it’s the strange frustration – and yet equally strange assistance, at times – that is commonly described as Murphy’s Law.
The common factor in all those descriptions is that sense of weirdness: that there’s something strange that is outside of our control – something which we can describe only in hints, suggestions or feelings. There’s a specific feeling that we’d call weird, too: it’s often described in terms such as “it sent shivers up my spine”. Weird…
But like the word ‘weird’ itself, we can use that feeling to tell us when we’re in the presence of the wyrd – when there’s a momentary sense of ‘everything, everywhere, everyone, everywhen’ all coinciding together. It’s a choice-point, when quite literally anything could happen: that’s the feeling, of course, but that also is the reality – if we choose to make it so. It seems weird, perhaps, but we do already know what wyrd is: one of the most powerful ways to come to understand the nature of the wyrd – and the choices it offers us at such times – is simply to notice how and when we (and others) use the word ‘weird’ – and remember that ‘weird’ is a noun, not an adjective. The more we learn to notice that, the more chance we have of seeing the choices hidden within these weird moments.
Often the only real choice with wyrd is simply to notice it – notice that there’s something happening that’s wider than our habitual understanding of the world. That in itself is empowering: we grow, in knowledge, in empathy with others, and – we’d hope! – in wisdom. Yet at times there’s far more at stake than that: in a brief moment of weirdness, our entire life can change – though sometimes it’s very difficult to tell whether it was really for better or for worse…
That’s the other key characteristic of ‘real live weirdness’: there’s always a choice, but there’s also always a twist – a sense that nothing is quite what it seems. It’s what makes ‘control’ an impossible myth; it’s what makes Murphy’s Law the real law that it is. But it’s also what creates new options, new possibilities, where before – with our ‘normal’ way of seeing the world – there seemed to be none.
So is ‘weird’ a noun – or simply an adjective? Your choice – but remember there’s always that weird twist…!