Deconstructing Meaning

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“There was a period in my life – in college – when I was learning words from the dictionary. I was memorizing words. I didn’t really understand them. I was merely explaining words using other words.”

Remembering things from the past is a beautiful opportunity to celebrate how far you’ve come.

“I know. But I keep forgetting it. Thank you for reminding me. 

I have come a long way since then. Now Understanding is one of the guiding values of my life.”

“When did that come about?”

“The moment I started to understand what it means. 

I told you last time about my love of language and meaning [<link; medium length]. Every aspect of our model of reality has a history.

At some point – late in my life, almost 10 years ago – I asked myself a question that profoundly changed me:

What is understanding?
What does it mean to understand?

I later called the seemingly paradoxical process of understanding understanding meta-understanding

That question has stayed with me since, and will probably remain an open process [<link; medium] forever. Guided by that question, I’ve been continually refining my model of understanding, with some wonderful practical benefits.

In contrast to that episode from the past, now one of my favorite pastimes is deconstructing meaning.

Take the concept of ‘werewolf’ for instance. 

Werewolf is a system of meaning. Visually it looks something like this:

The ‘werewolf’ system of meaning

Implicit to the concept is the model of conditional transformation – which is essentially an algorithm

IF the moon is full THEN transform into a wolf-monster

You can think of the elements of a system of meaning as building-blocks. The ‘universe of meaning’ is a collection of all the building-blocks we collectively have access to for constructing meaning.

What we call ‘imagination’ is the process of combining building-blocks of meaning in novel ways. Imagination is limited by the available building-blocks, and one’s capacity to restructure (that is, break and create) patterns – what Edward de Bono called lateral thinking.

I’ve come to regard lateral thinking as one of the most important skills one can have.”

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About Dani Trusca

Life-Artist, Thinker, Mover (Traceur)

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