On “Some Phenomenological Studies of Two Wugs in Love”
Ying Yao

A wug (n.) is a creature that was summoned into existence for the purpose of the Wug Test, a study used to investigate the acquisition of the plural form among English-speaking children. Researchers sought to determine whether children acquired the plural form through general-rule-following or through the memorization of specific instances. (Learn more about the Wug Test here.)

Several years ago while volunteering for the annual linguistic conference at BU, I got a mug that wore the prompt of the Wug Test on its side. The prompt looks like this:

I used to drink water with this mug all the time. Once I asked "which Wug are you?", pointing to the mug. You pointed to the squared-bodied Wug walking at the front. From that moment on, I could not help but see the Wugs as us. Wugs became the soul-animal of that relationship, the kind of soul-animal that is a pair. Since Wugs pertain to the soul, they live on in another realm, even though the flesh of the relationship had long decayed. In that realm, the Wugs are together timelessly, unaffected by contingent circumstances, whimsical hearts, or immature character.

Giving the Wugs a form became a therapeutic practice upon surges of griefthe chronic grief that is the irreconcilability between my commitments both to the movement of love, once launched, and to the renunciation of the relationship when it became morally draining. Both the work of love and the moral imperative that underlies the ending of the relationship are absolute, and yet opposing: by holding onto one I presupposed the other. The Wugs give me the cathartic joy of resurrecting the movement of love that is eternal, long after the flesh of the relationship had been permanently buried.

Featured image: one of Gleason's hand-drawn panels from the original Wug Test.

Ying Yao is a poet in praise of all existence through the medium of everything; a phenomenologist dedicated to examining time as the structure of experience; an artist who deploys mainly her mind and life as her studio; and a warrior towards the eradication of her own delusions and the sufferings of all sentient beings. She is an ongoing apprentice in academic philosophy and holds an MA in Philosophy from the University of British Columbia.


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