I sit on boards for a couple of organisations and therefore have to read what I would call conventional paperwork. More often than not I struggle with this. Not that I can’t read the words but that I can’t for the life of me work out what they mean, what the story is behind them.
The possibility of an alternative is what I find so exciting about the use of blogs in business. The way you can string together multiple perspectives on a topic. The way topics can be covered obliquely and in passing rather than in an attempt to provide a definitive version. And the way you can use rich context to help determine meaning.
This moving passage is from the wonderful Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer and is from his grandmother’s explanation of her attitude to food:
“The worst it got was near the end. A lot of people died right at the end, and I didn’t know if I could make it another day. A farmer, a Russian, God bless him, he saw my condition, and he went into his house and came out with a piece of meat for me.”
“He saved your life.”
“I didn’t eat it.” ….
“You didn’t eat it?”
“It was pork. I wouldn’t eat pork.”
“What do you mean why?”
“What, because it wasn’t kosher? ”
“But not even to save your life?”
“If nothing matters, there’s nothing to save.”
I struggle with this, to me, arbitrary meaning but am humbled by the strength of conviction behind it. Humans seek out and cling to meaning – even in the most adverse circumstances.
What a shame we have sanitised meaning out of so much of our communications. Wouldn’t business be more exciting, and more effective, if we sought more meaning and got better at expressing it?