It remains to be seen whether any sort of series will come out of a desire to focus upon uses of single words and how far astray (or worse, how far from taking one step off the path of convention) people can go with them. But, if not, then the word receiving treatment here will be ‘contempt’ and either way that will be fitting.
Briefly returning to the general case of word usage, it is clear that, and why, this word is so universally taken as a negative and why, in the context in which I have most enjoyed it, the works of a certain philosopher, it is so often misunderstood. Understandable, given that in those works a perverse level of desire to upset and obfuscate is present, unusual for philosophy, but perhaps not entirely forgivable. As this is the preserve of philosophers, to step off paths of convention, at least in thought, and staid, rooted, inflexible understanding of language is a poor companion in reading them.
This seems to be the constant companion for ‘contempt’, however. Despite there endlessly being elements of it evinced by even those who would most strongly decry it. The sense which has insinuated itself into the word so strongly we seem rarely able to break out is exactly that contained within the hypocritical mindset of those of ressentiment, or those capable only of seeking to reduce or destroy others from a place of smallness of spirit. Because of that smallness. In such a mindset, contempt is a persistent, poisonous, whispering madness, unpleasant to feel, execrable to enact… and yet with the hypocrisy just mentioned, alloyed throughout so many of those bound to view contempt in this way.
And with this being the standard view of contempt now, any deviating usage, however well intentioned, becomes difficult. And what a shame. Contempt in another sense, an unwillingness to accept something atrocious without pretending that one in some sense still values or respects it, a contempt characterised by swiftness of apprehension, and action, and moving past without their being a lingering taint… How useful. How freeing. How validating to accept that some things, many things, are worthy of little more than contempt, without feeling one has to at once become toxic at the mere harbouring of such thoughts.
As ever, everyone has the right and platform to disagree. But in such cases, if you cannot imagine what my reaction would be from the above, you should not be reading this.