Throwback Thursday: Language Frustrates Me

Language Frustrates Me

For #ThrowbackThursday, I am posting something I wrote about thirty years ago when I was as an undergraduate. I would submit it as a writing sample when I applied for jobs.

Language frustrates me. Because of it, I think in distinctions; I draw lines where they do not in fact exist; I categorize and differentiate. All this I do to simplify, to impose order. All this so that I need not think or feel or know too much. All this so that I may function in a complex world. Otherwise, I would be overwhelmed. Or so I believe. But, in actuality, my attempts to simplify, to order the world around me, make my world more complex. More complex because I distort. More complex, for language is inherently imprecise. And, I get caught in my errors, in my ignorance, and in my arrogance. I err when I oversimplify. I close my eyes to what is really going on when I ignore subtleties that elude definition. And, I arrogantly play God when I try to control my environment, imposing on it an order that is not necessarily there. Still, I convince myself that making these distinctions somehow empowers me. But the definitions, the distinctions, the categorizations I make become cages, and I find myself, not the objects I define, behind the bars. For in limiting what is limitless, in trying to contain what will not fit into any box or cage, I limit and imprison myself.

This piece of prose poetry means a great deal to me. It still resonates. Retyping it now makes me question why I would submit it as a writing sample for legal assistant, counseling, and business positions. The piece is perhaps a bit too telling. Guess I’ve always been I. My questioning and open nature, my love for ideas, my ambivalence for language, my theological bent, are part and parcel of who I am. Have been and still are.

Too bad I didn’t save more of my writing, that I pitched it all in an attempt to clean house. This piece, though, I kept in my résumé file.


22 responses to “Throwback Thursday: Language Frustrates Me”

  1. Language frustrates me. Because of it, I think in distinctions; I draw lines where they do not in fact exist; I categorize and differentiate.


    It’s funny that so many creation myths start with logos or naming things into existence, no?

    It’s as though to separate creator from creation you’ve got to use language as the wedge. The word for something is what splits it from everything else and gives it the illusion of independent existence.

    According to Ramana Maharshi, silence is the only true teaching.

  2. You’re deep, my friend! And I wouldn’t have it any other way. 🙂

    p.s. I love the latest photos – the clouds in particular are so ethereal – so enchanting. They are all magnificent!

  3. What is interesting is that I never considered myself vulnerable, and I never questioned the wisdom of submitting it as a writing sample until I posted it on my blog and realized how much it told about me, about my nature. As you know, I’m something of an open book.

  4. When I first read this piece, the word that popped into my mind was “vulnerable”. You put your true self out there on the page. The lines affected me on an existential level.

    I got a kick out of imagining the reactions of the various agencies where you sent it – I’m sure your sample was extraordinary compared to the other candidates! One thing you can say for sure is that it was not boring!!! :)))) I’d want to bring you in for an interview on that alone.

  5. Awww thanks Kitt! You are too kind. I love reading your blog 🙂

  6. Thank you so much. Means much coming from you, a PhD candidates whose writing is anything but inane (in spite of your blog subtitle).

  7. This is a fantastic piece of writing! Love it 🙂

  8. True. I was writing of the ineffable, the spiritual. But, love can be expressed in so many ways. Ultimately, that is all that matters.

  9. A very prescient piece. Well thought out.

  10. I love your piece. Language is frustrating lol but only if we see language strictly in words. Language is body, mind and soul. We say so much when we’re not saying anything at all. Being able to interpret that and translate it into words is no easy feat but so rewarding when achieved.

  11. Very thoughtful piece of writing although I see your point about why you would include it in certain job applications. But, hey, if it worked, that was great.

  12. I used to get jobs, no problem. But I haven’t been in the job market for years.

  13. Obviously, I used language to articulate my conundrum, so I do realize the power of language as well as its limitations. I live in the world of complex, abstract ideas. Love it. Love language, as well. But I do often find myself at a loss, especially when trying to convey spiritual matters.

  14. Like this piece, but I agree with you, I don’t know that I would submit this on a resume. However, who knows, it is honest. Did it help?

  15. Very interesting thoughts!

  16. Well done. I loved it.

  17. Interesting thoughts on language, Kitt. Language is frustrating, to be sure, but it’s also necessary. We can communicate in other ways. But conveying complex, abstract ideas is slightly easier using language than, say, using touch. And while language is imprecise, is that due to the nature of language or to our own limitations as language-bearers? Or even our own limitations of internal character? (I’m thinking of someone who deliberately manipulates language to gain power.)

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