Ralph Waldo Emerson, Journals, October 1842:
Thou shalt read Homer, Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Aristophanes, Plato, Proclus, Jamblichus, Porphyry, Aristotle, Virgil, Plutarch, Apuleius, Chaucer, Dante, Rabelais, Montaigne, Cervantes, Shakespeare, Jonson, Ford, Chapman, Beaumont and Fletcher, Bacon, Marvell, More, Milton, Molière, Swedenborg, Goethe.
via Laudator Temporis Acti.
A translator, being obliged by the nature of his task to attend to every single successive phrase of his author, however plain the meaning may seem, and to consider the intelligibility of what he renders to the uninitiated, sometimes discovers points of real difficulty which have escaped even the most thorough commentators, or arrives at fresh solutions of old problems. (source)
Not only in formal translation but also when living in multiple languages. It sometimes helps to think of a situation in a different language.
See also: Discovery is not finding new lands, it’s something else
often comes in the form of a relevant, timely, open-ended question.
In conversations with managers, I often hear people say something like “Well, I can’t help myself, that’s who I am, I’m” an engineer / a finance person / a lawyer, etc.
I share Stephen Fry’s consideration in The Guardian:
“We are not nouns, we are verbs.
I am not a thing – an actor, a writer – I am a person who does things – I write, I act – and I never know what I am going to do next.
I think you can be imprisoned if you think of yourself as a noun.”
They want machines to replace you as soon as possible.
“Few American executives will admit wanting to get rid of human workers, a taboo in today’s age of inequality. So they’ve come up with a long list of buzzwords and euphemisms to disguise their intent:
Workers aren’t being replaced by machines, they’re being “released” from onerous, repetitive tasks.
Companies aren’t laying off workers, they’re “undergoing digital transformation.”
A 2017 survey by Deloitte found that 53 percent of companies had already started to use machines to perform tasks previously done by humans. The figure is expected to climb to 72 percent by next year”.
Says George Orwell:
A scrupulous writer, in every sentence that he writes, will ask himself at least four questions, thus:
- What am I trying to say?
- What words will express it?
- What image or idiom will make it clearer?
- Is this image fresh enough to have an effect?
And he will probably ask himself two more:
- Could I put it more shortly
- Have I said anything that is avoidably ugly?
See also: George Orwell at Encyclopedia Britannica.
These are readings Hemingway recommended to a young person aspiring to be a writer. The whole story here.
Links for the book will take you to Project Gutenberg.
Doc Searls on his blog.
So where does [architect] Bill Patrick start, working unassisted by computer?
“I start with the light,” he says. “I say ‘where do we want the light?'”
We wanted our light coming from the direction of our hilltop view toward San Francisco Bay. We also wanted to enjoy that light outdoors as well as inside the house. The result is a lot of glass on every floor facing the Bay, and a deck or balcony outside every room on the Bay side the house. The roof is nearly flat, to maximize interior space within the local limits on roof height above grade, and the whole thing is not only beautiful, but unlike anything else, anywhere. It expresses Bill’s art, and it reflects our original intentions.
In other words, it’s a creation, not a replication or a variation. I also can’t imagine seeing this house as a template for anything else.
The same principle applies for any communicative act – letter, email, text, talk, presentation, etc. Start with the light; with what the purpose of the act is. And work backwards from there.
James Shelley on his blog:
Put a group of people in a room. Give them a whiteboard, pens, and markers. Ask them to develop an idea.
Put the same group of people in another room. Give them pipe cleaners, Play-Doh, a stage, a guitar, and LEGO. Ask them to develop an idea.
How different will the ideas be that emerge from the two different rooms?
In other words: How do the tools we use determine what we come up with?… or whether we engage at all.
It’s a question worth asking – in addition to location, time and venue.
Perhaps our people fail to come up with new solutions or ideas because we always ask them for those novel ideas in the same meeting, in the same place, in the same manner, and using the same tools.
p.s. The tile of the post is not a typo 🙂