The whole and its parts

The whole & its parts

Perfecting language

Communication is a skill many want to excel at.

The implicit hope is that their ability to use the correct words will ensure that they will be understood that their instructions will be implemented, that others will follow them, or that harmony is guaranteed.

However, what is often forgotten is how words carry an individual meaning. One that may not be aligned with the way these words are used in general. As a means of communication, words often can only indicate a more abstract meaning.

Take the words success, life, performance, great, exciting, important, pleasure, beauty, or respect.

Words like great or exciting connect with an emotion others can perceive and use to understand what can be meant without needing the specificities of what is being described.

Other words, for example, success or performance are based on the perceptions existing in a group. These perceptions may be defined by the result of a competition. But it can also be a set of rules existing within a team or group that determines one’s career path.

Then there are words like important or respect that have become ritualized. There are priorities and rules of politeness that have become established in any group. They give people a kind of handbook to deal with one another. Rituals make it easy to pass these rules on to others. However, they are only the formal aspects of the relationship, not necessarily how people experience it.

And if you take words like beauty and pleasure, they are a description of aesthetics an individual appreciates as well as what a group has come to define as its preferred aesthetics. It is what they can share and engage with. It is also a way they can recognize one another as a member of the same group.

All of these words are subject to evolution based on the changing context. Sometimes it leads to new words being invented or old words being used differently. But that’s also the result of individual interpretations and specifications change. The words and their meaning change as a result of the context as well as through disruption of that context. They also differ depending on our individual contexts.

Our ability to perfect our language depends on our ability to give meaning to our words and apply them to our life. Our ability to communicate well depends on our ability to notice differences in context as we exchange with others.

Whatever the meaning we give a word, it will never be understood by others exactly as we understand it. That’s because context consists of too many details to ever be shared, noticed, and remembered.


Deep Deep Down, 2023 exhibition seeking to transfer all the stored artworks of the Mudam into the museum’s exhibition space.



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