ArticleThe Anatomy of Wonders
Any individual wonder can be touching and beautiful (like the Little Mermaid), or creative and thought-provoking (like the Vigeland Park), or majestic and awe-inspiring (like the starlit Arena di Verona when this ancient amphitheater is hosting a modern opera)…In short, it can be almost anything - “almost”, because there is one notable exception. Namely, no wonder can be truly unique (as in “being the only one of its kind”) - and that includes the Original Seven, as even in antiquity there were other temples, lighthouses, statues, gardens… Judging by the extant evidence, royal tombs weren't restricted to the Great Pyramid of Giza, either.
Notwithstanding the above, most wonders _are_ unique - just in a different way. It's the concept of “alphabet” that helps to understand what exactly puts each such wonder in a class of its own. Mere 26 letters are responsible for about 600,000 words in English alone (and there are as many words - give or take - in each of the other main European languages), and those words have contributed to an endless variety of books, magazines, blogs, articles, and such. Each word consists of “commonplace” letters, and each book/magazine/blog mostly features ordinary words - yet every such piece of literature not guilty of plagiarism is clearly one-off, because its identity is determined by the interplay of words. That - as a whole - is indeed unrepeatable.
Words are building blocks of literature - just like, for instance, culinary ingredients are building blocks of cooking. Likewise, wonders have their own “ingredients” whose interplay determines the nature of any given wonder. Some of those ingredients are permanent - location, purpose, modus operandi, time period - and they ensure familiarity. It's the other, less definable category that is aptly called “intangibles” that is responsible for uniqueness. A right intangible thrown into a usual mix, can spice it up enough to turn a common object or experience into a distinct wonder - even if the experience is nothing more than a proverbial walk in the park or a much less proverbial ride in a waterfall…