Many Thoughts Few Ideas


Is there a word for that?

Is there a word for that?

There are actually quite a few things that have been on my mind lately that I feel like I ought to be writing about: racial tensions in Baltimore, gender bias in Hollywood, the exodus of Millenials from religion, invented words on the internet, etc. The problem is- even though the topics have caused me some strong feelings lately I’m not actually sure that I can articulate them. I’m not even sure I can define their shapes, much less describe that shape in words, and I worry that if I write about them too soon that I will start talking myself into a spiral of incomplete thoughts

So I’m going to do something that is pretty rare for the internet: I’m going to try to think before I write something.

That said, I do sometimes find it enlightening to write thoughts down because sometimes the very act of committing them to paper (or… internet ether in this case I suppose) helps bring them into focus. English is a pretty limber language, but even so it often falls wildly short of being able to accurately describe abstract thoughts and feelings. Sometimes the limitations of language is helpful: sometimes the right word exists, and if not, sometimes the almost-right word can point us in the right direction.

That said, I recently discovered that there is a denizen of the internet who has been busily filling in the gaps with The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows: a website dedicated to creating words for the feelings that you didn’t even know you had because they had no name before. These are delightful. I may or may not have spent my entire lunch hour reading them and trying (and failing) to choose a favorite. Here are a few that might be pointing me in the right direction.

KUEBIKO
(n) A state of exhaustion inspired by senseless acts of violence.

This one is for Baltimore, although I find myself more exhausted from the endless talking about the violence rather than the violence itself which has been carefully choreographed into a media event. It’s certainly getting a lot of attention, but is it useful attention? Will it make a difference? What is to say that Baltimore will be the tipping point when so many other protests about so many other fatalities have yet to cause meaningful change? At what point do we become kuebiko? At what point does the sound get lost in the noise? At what point do we just mute our Twitters and block our Facebooks and go back to screaming goats because they actually seem to say something more relevant to our lives than the circus playing out on media with every sloppy, self-interested opinion getting slathered on top?

I’m ashamed to admit that I am often kuebiko before I even know what the story is: because as soon as it appears on my radar it is already so far from objective truth that I would rather look inward to my own beliefs than to try to deal with a complex, systemic problem that is being broadcast straight from the street to the screen with the swipe of an opinionated hipsters’ thumb.

ANECDOCHE
(n) A conversation in which everybody is talking and nobody is listening.

I was tempted to use this one for Baltimore as well, but it seemed more apropos to the conversation about gender bias in Hollywood. If ever there was a conversation in which everybody is talking and nobody is listening then this is it. I don’t want to contribute to it. I believe it is a self-limiting belief: if I continue to expect to be held down and ignored and overlooked then I will see nothing but people standing in my way instead of partners who might help me up. Yes, the entertainment industry is unequal to women and minorities. So is the United States and so is the World. Why are we so surprised?

Should it change? I would certainly like it if it did, but maybe the best way to make that happen is to stop turning the conversation into an us-versus-them narrative about men elbowing women out of their place at the table. I daresay that most of them aren’t doing it on purpose: I daresay that we are all just trying to get to the table in the first place. I keep getting drawn back into the conversation whether I want to say anything about it or not. I’d really rather spend all my energy making films and television shows.

EXULANSIS
(n) The tendency to give up talking about an experience because people are unable to relate to it.

This is what it’s like to be one of those Millenials who left organized religion but still has pretty strong spiritual beliefs and has had some pretty strong spiritual Experiences. I’ve tried describing them in the past but words have been wildly inadequate and the attempt(s) left me feeling like I had somehow cheapened the Experience by describing it so badly. This is what Religion is to me. Religion feels like a thousand people trying to describe someone else’s Experience: the source material was great to begin with, but there is so little left of it after translation that it fails to inspire me. I really don’t want a fancier church, a bigger cohort of like-minded believers, an electronic device, or a flashier light-and-laser show: what I really want is a quiet place where I can just get back to experiencing spirituality without being told what that Experience ought to be or having to resort to exulansis in the face of trying to evangelize that experience to others.

 

Well, for not having much to say I’ve certainly said a lot so I’m going to wrap it up for tonight.

 

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~ by Gwydhar Gebien on May 1, 2015.

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