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New Artisans, and the language we use
Day 8 of Alan Moore's 13 Design Questions
“Words make Worlds”
“The universe is made of stories, not of atoms.”
I think words are like people in that they are shaped by the company they keep. They are the raw material of our language, verbal and written, and although we are told that words make up only a small proportion of our communication, they are nonetheless vital; they are the trail we leave behind and which those in the future will use to understand us.
It is a basic premise of modern linguistic theory that no word ever has exactly the same meaning twice.
Whatever the craft, language matters for the Artisan. It shows in the care we take, the ones we choose and reject, the way in which we match them to the recipient, and the careful balancing of clarity with complexity in order to inform, challenge or inspire. The removal, as best we can, of ego to talk peer to peer to avoid alienation through projected status.
We have choices. Our language can be coercive, curious, embracing, or undermining; generous, selfish, catalytic, infectious or inspiring.
Words are ingredients, and the way we combine them reflects our skills as well as our vision.
At its best, the language we use opens doors for those we work with. They give enough shape and support for our clients to make themselves part of the story and bring their own originality into the creation process, creating an alloy that is stronger than either artisan or client independently.
The way our words are conveyed matters, from the way they are spoken, to the body language that accompanies them, to the substrate they are printed on. The same words handwritten on fine craft paper carry a different message than the same words in an email.
It is easy to be lazy with words and to fall into the trap of efficiency to create clinical messages that are devoid of meaning and which make us feel like subjects rather than citizens in the relationship.
In a world that is busy, well-crafted language creates pause for us to be heard and seen for who we are, not the job we are doing.
There’s a passage I have underlined in Anne Lamott’s “Bird by Bird” about writing. I think the same applies to our work as artisans.
“E.L. Doctorow said once said that 'Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.' You don't have to see where you're going, you don't have to see your destination or everything you will pass along the way. You just have to see two or three feet ahead of you. This is right up there with the best advice on writing, or life, I have ever heard.”
I’d like New Artisans to comprise powerful, uncompromising language that dismantles dogma and challenges our thinking to sow seeds of possibility amongst the day-to-day necessities of the work we do and provide the soil in which they can grow.
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