The official student news site of Westview High School

The Nexus

The official student news site of Westview High School

The Nexus

The official student news site of Westview High School

The Nexus

Battikha constructs, programs drone for pollution detection
Battikha constructs, programs drone for pollution detection
Leanne Fan, Staff Writer • June 5, 2024

When Alex Battikha (11) walked along the San Diego shores with his dad last June, he noticed trash everywhere. What further concerned him was...

What a Wonderful Word

Agathokakological

Ordinarily, when I’m seeking out a word for the next issue’s What a Wonderful Word, I turn to my recent life. Sifting through moments both remarkable and quotidian, I attempt to find a feeling, descriptor, action, or other thing that at the time was indescribable to me. Then, it’s down the internet rabbit hole of dictionaries, thesauruses, and archives in search of a definitive term that renders the incommunicable communicable. It is, in spirit, very much akin to a treasure hunt.

For an entire year, I have been successful. I’ve recounted corn mazes, sneezing fits, bad handwriting, and impossibly casual excellence. I have scrounged up words from the depths of near obscurity and highlighted their uniqueness and relevance in everyday life. Every three weeks or so, I can glow with pride as I see my wonderful words in print. 

This issue, writing my ultimate column, I nearly failed. 

Nice and early in the press cycle, I decided it was time to write. I opened my laptop and… simply had nothing. No anecdotes, no words, nothing. Perhaps my brain internalized the finality of producing my last issue of The Nexus, or the larger end that it was a part of, or maybe my life just wasn’t interesting anymore. Hopefully not that. I took a deep breath and continued looking.

An indecent amount of time later, after multiple days of researching, I was forced to close my laptop in complete and utter defeat. At the culmination of my entire education and the social circles I’d immersed myself in for 18 years, I, Cora Reyes-Castelloe, was at a loss for words. 

It was mortifying. How could I, resident logophile of The Nexus, really have so little to say? Had my silver tongue turned to lead? Despondent, I wracked my brain and swore I could hear it echoing emptily.

Then, it hit me like the cold water of a shower when stepped into too early: Agathokakological.

Agathokakological is an adjective, used to describe something which simultaneously is composed of both good and evil. Unlike the condition that it labels, the word is relatively new, having been coined by English poet Robert Southey in the late 18th century. It combines the Greek roots agath, meaning good or honorable, and kako, meaning bad.  Loyal readers of this column may recognize kako from the previous issue’s cacography. The suffix of logical means word pertaining to. Joined together, these three roots don’t exactly roll off the tongue. But, it’s only fitting that a concept so difficult to comprehend is just as tricky to pronounce. It’s one of my favorite words.

My epiphany may seem like a non-sequitur, but allow me to explain myself. The reason that this column exists is because I love words, and I love words because they tether us to each other and to ourselves. They are proof that, since our inception, we have wanted to share ourselves with each other and the universe. Why else would our ancestors have created words and languages than to leave traces of themselves for humanity, the same way that prehistoric animals leave behind fossilized footprints telling us who they were and where they went?

The biggest thing I’ve learned wading through these seas of vocabulary to write this column is that our world is full of good and full of evil. Words prove it: there are words of warmth and love, like companionship, apricity, and growth. There are words of hate and destruction, like disconsolate, abandoned, and vitriolic. All of which manage to coexist with their antonyms in the universe, a universe that can thus only be described as agathokakological. It’s as Doctor Who once said: “The way I see it, every life is a pile of good things and bad things. The good things don’t always soften the bad things, but vice versa, the bad things don’t always spoil the good things and make them unimportant.”

So, if I had to leave you all with one word, just one, I want it to be that. Agathokakological. Not necessarily to use in casual conversation, but more as a personal reminder. My life has been agathokakological, and yours likely has been too. They’re going to remain that way in the future, as will the cosmos itself. But we’re ready for it, and should be feeling nothing but nikhedonia as we venture out with our wonderful words into this wonderful world.

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Cora Reyes-Castelloe
Cora Reyes-Castelloe, Features Editor

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