“Words create boundaries.”

(This post is part of a series reflecting on the value offered by my Intuitive Directions™ deck.)

Every day for the past month as part of my morning meditation I read a short passage in Erling Kagge’s Silence in the Age of Noise. This morning he was reflecting on some of Ludwig Wittgenstein’s writings, and restated his understanding with the statement “Words create boundaries”. Such a powerful statement!  He goes on to quote Wittgenstein as he refers to the “cage” created by the “boundaries of language”.

_CK_0834-Edit-2I teach a photography class called Seeing with New Eyes. In the first session we do an exercise without the camera where I ask people to sit quietly for 15 minutes and look, really look, without labeling or judging.  What do they see that is visually interesting without the confinement of labels?  Once we call something a “chair” we stop seeing the full scope of colors, lines, textures, patterns and negative space.  The word “chair” creates a boundary — an expectation — and limits our ability to really see.

Another inquiry I’ve been grappling is understanding the difference between a statement —  a sentence ending with a period — and a question. I’m try to find the right language to convey the intent of my Intuitive Direction™ cards which consist of thought-provoking questions and imagery. For the kind of reflection I’d like to engender with my cards, a statement feels static while a question, particularly an open-ended question, is active, arousing curiosity, inquiry, exploration.

To take this further, since every card in my deck contains an image which in some way relates to the question on the card, I’m also curious to find a way to convey the power of imagery to expand the limitations of words.  As part of the same passage, Kaage also talks about the ultimate meaning of life. He says words alone simply can’t convey a complex concept like this. “It must be shown, thought, and felt.” For me, this is where imagery comes in.

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