The Dumb Thing Smart People Do

Was Shakespeare a fascist?

I don’t really know what the word ‘fascist’ means and I can’t remember reading Shakespeare. Clearly this makes me perfectly suited to criticise lots of intelligent people.

Lets begin.

If someone could be bothered reading Shakespeare they’d see words they’d not seen before. They’d also see familiar words used very differently.

In the meme-universe of language, words change. It’s a pretty hostile universe: word-memes die, new ones emerge or they morph into something else. Survival of the fittest.

We’re seeing it happen before our eyes, literally.

How long do you think a Wikipedia article is, if you include all updates? Short answer: fucking long. Like the size of 12 books.

Although less extreme, words usually have a dynamic history. Dictionaries trick us into thinking of words as stones. So to do definition-debaters (everyones favourite). Both make us think the meme-universe of language is platonic.

There’s no reason to have a filing cabinet of definitions. This doesn’t make vocabulary unimportant though – the more mental hooks the better.

Words are tools to understand and convey, best used when kept sharp.

. . .

A debate usually happens like this. One person has a picture in their head and another person has another. They both fight to keep that picture intact.

They’re talking apples and oranges but don’t realise it.

Better to cultivate the art of the working definition and keep them in flux. Defining first what we’re actually talking about and putting an orange in either head before starting.



My thinking’s change somewhat. I still believe in definition flexibility for dialogue. For personal use though, a well crafted definition can change thinking and therefore decision making. For example, Tim Ferriss’ definition of risk – ‘irreversible negative outcome’.


Disagree with anything? Great, come bludgeon this on Twitter 🙂 




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