Empowerment & the power of dictionaries LO26271

From: Richard Holloway (learnshops@rciti.com)
Date: 03/04/01

Replying to LO26260 --


I enjoyed your perspective on this...and you jogged my thoughts of how
much I've appreciated artists changing the meaning (spelling and usage) of
words once familiar (Joyce, Beckett, Carroll and elliot come to mind).
I'm all for literary experimentation with language. That's the domain of
the artist (changing meaning, I mean).

A concern (one that nags at me mentally) is how words are also used by
those in "power" to continue oppressing those who aren't. The current use
of the word empower (or misuse?) seems to me to fit that convention more
than it does the literary one.

However, I'm certain that if we exercise inquiry and advocacy in our use
of words and meanings like this, we can at least understand what each of
us "means" when we're talking to one another. And, we also can watch for
organizational "walks" that don't look like how the organization "talks."

Either way, Bill's choice and Rick's choice appear both to be "empowered."
I just prefer to use other terms to describe myself. I use "autonomous."
Sometimes "capricious" and "arbitrary."

Ralph Waldo Emerson differentiated between power and self-reliance (the
word he used that seems to mean the same as what we commonly refer to as

It's interesting to read and compare his thoughts on "power" and

Here's a URL for the 2nd part of his easy, "The Conduct of Life."
http://www.jjnet.com/emerson/power.htm In this part, he writes about
power. "All power is of one kind, a sharing of the nature of the world.
The mind that is parallel with the laws of nature will be in the current
of events, and strong with their strength."

And he ended, "If these forces and this husbandry are within reach of our
will, and the laws of them can be read, we infer that all success, and all
conceivable benefit for man, is also, first or last, within his reach, and
has its own sublime economies by which it may be attained. The world is
mathematical, and has no casualty, in all its vast and flowing curve."

In his essay, "Self-Reliance" he writes, "Society everywhere is in
conspiracy against the manhood of every one of its members. Society is a
joint-stock company, in which the members agree, for the better securing
of his bread to each shareholder, to surrender the liberty and culture of
the eater. The virtue in most request is conformity. Self-reliance is its
aversion. It loves not realities and creators, but names and customs."

"Whoso would be a man must be a nonconformist. He who would gather
immortal palms must not be hindered by the name of goodness, but must
explore if it be goodness. Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of
your own mind. Absolve you to yourself, and you shall have the suffrage of
the world."

You'll find this essay at http://www.jjnet.com/emerson/selfreliance.htm if
you'd like to read it in its' entirety.

Also, please remember that this was written in 1841 (the earlier essay was
written in the 1860's) so you may find some of the language obsolete. Or
perhaps not.




"Richard Holloway" <learnshops@rciti.com>

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