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13 November 2000

There's nothing more annoying than feeling compelled to make some meaningful entry in my journal. What is meaningful? The three rainbow rings that appeared around the moon while I did t'ai chi in Eccleston Field? The habits of the neighborhood skunk whom I meet in the neighbor's yard on my way back from Ma's most nights?

I picked up another book at the library: Push Hands, The Handbook for Non-Competitive T'ai Chi Practice with a Partner by Herman Kauz. Very interesting.

"... a person who sees the world differently [and here he means someone whose vision has been changed by the study of t'ai chi] usually possesses a mind that is open enough to entertain more than one way of dealing with a problem."
Mark Twain stated it thus: "There's more than one way to skin a cat." So very true.

Mr. Kauz also makes reference to a book Language, Thought, & Reality by Benjamin Lee Whorf, who states:

"...the language that we speak channels our thought processes in such a way that we see the world differently from people who speak a different language."

True again. Language is a product of the way we see and experience the world. And so, in learning a new language, in becoming proficient in understanding the culture underlying the language, we are changed by language, we learn to express everything we think and feel in a new and different way. And then act of expressing ourselves thus changes the way we think and feel.

I had an interesting discussion about this the other day with Jim and Van down at the John Carter Brown Library. They agree wholeheartedly, citing the impossibility of communicating clearly with academics in the disciplines of engineering and mathematics and business because of the lack of common ground for understanding— well, it sounds like scholarly bickering to be sure, but I believe it's true.

I have learned to speak "computerese," and it has changed me and my thinking irrevocably. Now I am learning to speak taijiquan, and again, I am changing. The process is very, very interesting. But it is very difficult, if not sometimes completely impossible, to discuss any of these things with people who haven't studied these things too.


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