Monday, October 15, 2012

Communication for creating

As I learn Chinese I think about the importance of language mastery to creativity. Its hard for me to communicate anything but the most basic of ideas in my elementary Mandarin. Forget about creating anything original like a poem using it. To be creative in a language you need to master the elements of the language.

There are more than just spoken languages in the world. Couple dancing also has its own language. The lead and follow must both be on the same page about the language they will use. Then they can create a dance commensurate with the mastery each has of the language and the clarity they use to communicate. A dancer travels through the same difficulties I am having with Chinese. In the beginning its amost like stumbling and stepping on each others feet. But as the dancer learns the language and then becomes a master, he can create truly beautiful dances with his partner.

Another creative endevor which has its own lanugage and grammar is Improv theater. An improv team must agree on a set of promts to manage the flow of the scenes. They must then practice them and besure they are clearly giving each sign since theres no way to stop the show in front of the audience and ask what the other person might have meant when they tagged them out. The again goes through the same struggle to communicate clearly and understand what their team members are trying to communicate. Slowly they will gain the skills and master them.

As I think about these activities I am involved in I see a strong pattern emerge.
They all center around language. In his book, The Language Instinct, Steven Pinker says that we all have an instinct to plug words we learn into a grammar as children. We crave language and learn it extrodinarly fast as small children. Its important to continue to find new areas where we can grow and learn new languages whether it be the language of photography, physics, or cooking. Don't be afraid of stumbling or stepping on a few toes to master that new language.

I look on these other areas that I've learned how to communicate clearly and know that eventually I'll get there with Chinese. In the mean time I'll stumble and communicate boring ideas.

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