Sunday, May 25, 2008

Old but worth rereading

A word is not a crystal, transparent and unchanged, it is the skin of a living thought and may vary greatly in color and content according to the circumstances and the time in which it is used.
-Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., jurist (1841-1935)

If I haven't quoted this here before, I've certainly quoted it elsewhere. For many years, I had it on my bulletin board at work, in the permanent corner, where I kept things that meant so much I consider them worth seeing every day.

To me this sums up a large chunk of what I believe about the world: context and purpose determine meaning, and each of us has a different context and a different purpose, so each of us develops our own meaning.

It's a wonder we ever communicate at all!

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