Trust Me: Defy Your Label

The title of this blog comes from the undergrad thesis I wrote for an honours BA in Religion. It was actually pithily called The Myth of Myth and Native Mythology, but the subtitle was “a booklength string of words, or, a bowling ball on a trampoline”. The subtitle came from the Conclusion, which after 60 pages of examining value systems, words and how truth is determined, stated rather simply, that essentially a “myth was a string of words that was meant to reveal a truth, or some aspect thereof”. While the word myth comes from Greek mythos and means story, for some reason, myths are generally understood as being stories that are exaggerated or untrue. And it seems as though a lot of people can’t get past that understanding. If you think about how and when you use that term, and what you mean when you use it, what does it mean to you, honestly?

Anyhow, in my thesis, I propose that the words we use to understand the world are heavy with cultural baggage. Thus, when we try to understand something outside our culture, there is the risk that things are going to be lost in translation. This can make communication difficult even in the best and easiest of times. I’m using English and therefore have some assumption that English speakers and readers will understand the words the way I mean them. But, that’s not how it always works.

The thesis points out that sometimes people get stuck in the words and their definitions – or the shape of them if you will, rather than letting the words be what they are, which is a group of symbols or signs for auditory sounds, which technically are felt within our ears. For example, an A is a visual symbol that represents that sound, which many have learned is the first sound in apple or ape, and thus words are a series of symbol-sounds that represent objects, thoughts, feelings – everything that is. Where things get lost in translation, is when we apply our cultural baggage which can result in thinking there is only one understanding, or feeling, for each word. For some an apple is red and juicy and tasty, but for others it’s sour or rotten and riddled with worms. Both are right, so neither is wrong. If we don’t allow that a word can mean more than one thing, it’s kind of like thinking that the EXIT sign means we have to crawl through the sign to get out. But if you’ve read American Psycho, it’s not an exit, it’s just a sign, guiding one to where the way out is. So it makes sense to let words point us in general directions, and let the shapes of the letters and sounds wash over us in feelings and fade away instead of getting stuck within the rigidness of them…..That, and hope the writer will provide context.

That was perhaps a rather long intro to the topic of labels and what you can expect from this blog. But context is important. There’s a scene in Dear White People ep. 2 of the television show when the journalist is told: “trust me: find your label” because “labels are what prevent people in Florida from drinking Windex”. That’s what came to mind when I decided to jump into the blogosphere. Because when I first saw the scene, I did that head pull back, half squint wha-you-talkin-bout face and went full-on defensive talking to myself about how labels are bad and how we have to defy our labels, in the way we have to fight the power, (also wondering why people in Florida were singled out 🤔). I reasoned that labels pigeon-hole and constrain and limit. Which, I realized, as I took off my armor and let myself feel the signs, makes sense… for how many times have I googled something so specific that was found on a blog written by someone who specializes in the nature of my query.

So at first I didn’t want to apply a label because I didn’t want to scare people off or give unrealistic expectations, anne frankly I worry that if I say who or what I am, instantly images will form in the readers’ head and then the round peg of what I’m doing will become whittled away by a readers’ understanding of what that word means to him/her. But I do also see the point in terms of wanting people to think this is not Windex. So, about me, I will say that I’m a verb. In the words of Richard Buckminster-Fuller, I’m an ‘evolutionary process – an integral function of the universe”. I have two BA’s (sociology/political science and religion), and I have previously written for film, community television, national  television news, regional press and social media. I love words and what can be done with them, with all mediums.

And as for category… perusing the ‘top 42′ lists complied, I dint see anything this will fall under, so ima say it’s a post-existential look at verbs, like being and doing. A couple of years ago, as a national news television reporter, I interviewed a graffiti artist who pointed out the need that graf artists’ work had to be public. I think it’s because we all wanna be heard in some way, we want to be seen, it’s confirmation we are here, like our voice is important, like “Kilroy was here”. Or like the little guy in Horton Hears a Who who finally declares “I am here, I am here, I am here”.

*New posts will go up every Thursday. Future topics include politics, religion and racism.


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