Saturday, June 28, 2008

Labels as coffins or spring-boards

Interesting observation today.

How do you define the stuff in your life? Not only in the physical realm but also in the concepts, ideas, images, stories, and imaginative processes you contain inside your head?

For me, the process of labelling or naming concepts seems to be an important strategy in helping me achieve coherence and full comprehension of the thing.

If something such as an idea or a relationship is too vast in its scope, it becomes overwhelmingly difficult to describe simply and usefully. It begins to lack coherence and for me, begins to become unwieldy and totally incomprehensible.

If there is one thing I have learned recently...I have a hard time with anything that is incomprehensible! If it doesn't make sense to me, I either ignore it completely or else, enter into a sort of emotional/intellectual guerrilla warfare with it!

The process of naming things I've talked about here before. It seems to be a strong value of mine - to be able to name something in such a way that builds in the full meaning and therefore...coherence; understanding and recognition etc.

The trick to this though is to ensure that the labels are not coffins!

By this I mean that that which we name or label does not become so confining in its definition that the original idea and concept dies, leaving a mere title for nothing much at all.

The labelling process...especially for ideas...needs to have a kind of built in mutability in it that allows the idea behind the label to grow, morph and develop freely. The label then becomes not just a name but a living identity for the idea!

Just like when we name our babies...we believe those names will be with them for life. The child grows with their name and their name defines them but it should never confine them. It's important, as a parent, to choose a name that serves the child into their old age and acts as a spring-board to a life-time of growth. Only really dumb parents give children the sorts of idiotic names that can potentially and severely limit a child's growth and joy as a person...but that depends on the child too in the end.

The thing is...the words we use to call our stuff... not only defines the stuff but also grows the stuff, unless we label it in such a way that effectively kills it!

I hadn't realised until now just how important the process of naming/labelling is to the human least to mine anyway.

To define or confine? That is the question!

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