Thursday, July 20, 2017

tyranny of the quantifiable


are there things you cannot convey with words or even actions?  do you worry that words are never adequate?  that you've never actually expressed yourself with any bit of accuracy?
the tyranny of the quantifiable is partly the failure of language and discourse to describe more complex, subtle, and fluid phenomena, as well as the failure of those who shape opinions and make decisions to understand and value these slipperier things.  it is difficult, sometimes even impossible, to value what cannot be named or described...*
what are you striving to convey?  will language always fail to describe the truly valuable things and, then, it seems, leave us in peril? if we don't describe it, it won't be saved.  money, profits, square footage, gallons--these things are safe in their easily quantifiable jargon.  but, please, tell me where you can buy a ledger to keep track of the tenderness of your daughter's hand in her waning days at home as the sun sets one more glorious time?  and the electricity in your body when you imagine either one of you not existing anymore?  what about the giddiness of playing kickball in the open space when the sprinklers come on without warning?  or the way a drum beat reverberates somewhere deep within your body and makes you want to dance?  there is not a box to check to apply for more of any of that.  more to the point, protecting the beauty of the natural world, and its citizens' ability to dream and think and love without threat will never show up in tidy columns.  so forge on, endeavor to articulate the things that are most important and most difficult to describe.

also, read *rebecca solnit, who does all of that and more.