“The limits of my language are the limits of my mind. All I know is what I have words for.” ~Ludwig Wittgenstein
Communication is like painting. Sometimes a person may come up with a masterpiece of an idea, and put it forth into the world clear and fully formed, saturated with color on a scale which others may digest comfortably. Other times a sentence may morph into a Pollock, becoming more and more layered until the starting point is all but unidentifiable. Yet other times there is a middle ground – a place of nuance. In those moments a person may have a thought to share, but release it in parts, or in phrases with subtlety. Some ideas come out clearly while others are fuzzy to the receiver. Here, communication becomes impressionistic: forming a whole a scene, a whole feeling, with well-placed brushstrokes and smart colors.
All of these ways of communicating are limited by what an artist can imagine, or what a speaker can name. Yes, we may be able to identify a feeling without being able to fully describe it, but because we lack the precision to completely talk about it, it is never fully comprehensible and communicable.
When I don’t know what something is, I default to calling it the infinitely descriptive “thingy.” This does nothing for someone to whom I am trying to communicate. We are all limited by what we can describe. As such, we are all limited by what we can control. So, really, I have no power over that “thingy”.
But what happens when that thingy which you have no name for suddenly becomes important?
Well, then there is no choice but to become a Degas or Kahlo or Pollock or Picasso or Monet and put some paint on a canvas – put some words into the Universe – and expand the limits of your language and thus the limits of your mind.
Image: Impression: Soleil Levant – Claude Monet, 1872 <https://www.ibiblio.org/wm/paint/auth/monet/first/impression/impression.jpg