Words with too many meanings or varied shades of meaning.

Bearing | Commerce | Ecology | faith | Intercourse | Media | Nature | Technology

yang"The tao that can be spoken is not the tao."

Sometimes the use of language –despite good intentions– is too obscure, or may tell us less about a subject than a fully informative discourse could reveal.

By turning the purpose of language communication upside down, the deliberate use of words to disguise the actual meaning is a pervasive problem.

In this sense the use of words with very elastic meanings –that is to say with meanings that are imprecise depending on the context in which the word or phrase is used– can be used to cover-up and not expose the most important details that would more completely inform readers.

Examples of such words are: nature, technology, health, subject, environment, moral, fiction, person, economy.

The use of these rhetorical devices is what makes any writing more polemical than informative. Polemical pieces are very much like propaganda in that they tell a reader far less than meets the eye. A polemic is a form of argumentative writing that is so disputatious and contentious that the meaning is not as obvious as the dispute.

Propaganda is by definition such biased use of speech or writing as to misinform, deceive or lie to an audience and thus to cover-up, rather than disclose, matters.


John Ciardi, NPR: On Words with John Ciardi Podcast.



Media refers literally to "midst" -- in the midst of-- and by extended use we mean the manner in which we converse with others. Hence media is the use of print, voice, tone, melody, or images to convey ideas.

Figuratively speaking: The Medium is the metaphor.

Marshall McLuhan, Canadian scholar and critic of communication's theory suggested that "the medium is the message."

book Among the earliest printed books.

The message is composed of words; some can have multiple meanings or varied shades of meaning.

Media: Bearing | Commerce | Ecology | faith | Intercourse | Media | Nature | Technology




3. The paradox of knowledge is that to be in possession of knowing is to lose an inherent capacity of that knowledge to exercise good judgment in demonstrating wisdom.

The radical role of faith-based groups.

"The Dunkers came close here to formulating a commandment about religious discourse: Thou shalt not write down thy principles, still less print them, lest thou be entrapped by them for all time."

p. 31.

The premise of this book: Amusing Ourselves to Deathline

"that the form in which ideas are expressed affects what those ideas will be."

p. 31.


Related concepts





bookThe Dominant Animal: Chapter 9, Cycles of Life: ecology and biology, by Ann and Paul Ehrlich (2006)

Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in an Age of Show Business. by Neil Postman.(New York: Penguin, 1986).

Water- private property or public good?

The ten lessons of Postman and Sontag

Overseas, or Foreign Press a sampling

USA print media, daily newspapers

William Greider, Come Home, America

George Lakoff, The Political Mind

Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, Walker Evans and James Agee, 1941.


Siry's Ecology Forum


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