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Cultivating New Conceptual Languages

Poetry-making and Policy-making (Part #1)

Part J of Poetry-making and Policy-making: Arranging a Marriage between Beauty and the Beast (1993)

1. Language cultivation
Pattern and configuration
"Deep epistemology"
Examples of language development
Influence of poetry
Criteria for selection of metaphors

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1. Language cultivation
When a group of people successfully adopt a set of complementary metaphors through which to configure their relationships they are effectively cultivating a new language. This language may not be readily understandable to others -- or may create a false impression of being understandable. Selecting and cultivating metaphors bears a similarity to gardening in the attention that is called for and in the variety of gardens that may be so created. The garden may indeed be a "secret garden".

As noted above, there is a sense in which such language cultivation is already done within many groups, whether specialized disciplines, street gangs, student groups, or practitioners of particular sports or occupations. It can however be done more deliberately. At one extreme there are purely functional initiatives such as the international language developed for air traffic control. There is almost no aesthetic concern in such cases. More interesting are the languages that develop within spiritual cults and in many ways mould how people perceive their environment and act upon it. The emerging language of the New Agers might, for example, be considered as a kind of Esperanto of the alternative worlds. But although more aesthetic, there is little conscious attempt to give it a more integrative quality. And yet it can be argued that it does indeed enable people to work together in new ways and to make decisions in new ways. This is especially evident in California where this language has penetrated into many sectors, included the professional and business worlds.where this language has penetrated into many sectors, included the professional and business worlds.