Monday, October 26, 2009

I think therefore I ambiguous

We just shifted all our stuff at work from one end of the office to the other, for some intensely obscure reason related to either ergonomics, quantum physics, trigonometry, or feng shui. It was essentially a simple idea that happened in a complicated manner (or possibly a complicated idea that unfolded in a simple way), involving official looking cabinets containing official looking documents being wheeled about like Daleks; books, papers, rosters, and paperclips being taken down and put back up; and a whole lot of things taken out of the backs of a whole lot of stuff and unplugged from a tangle of whatsits. I don't particular know what the things are, what the stuff they were in was, and which whatsits they were plugged into, but in the end we got everything together again and in working order, sort of.

More and more, I get the feeling that the entirety of life is like this. A whole lot of things taken out of the backs of a whole lot of stuff and unplugged from a tangle of whatsits, I mean. The metaphor is utterly ambiguous, but so is life. Life is full of things and stuff and whatsits with names and purposes that I have either forgotten, not understood, not been able to pronounce, or never been told. People crowd onto public transport twiddling with widgets and fiddling with gadgets that send smidgens of bits to other widgets and gadgets. What are they? What do they do? Should I feel threatened by them?

Consider this: many Germanic people regularly attended political meetings that were called 'Thing'. Thing! Doesn't this name express perfectly the utterly vague point of political gatherings, where deliberations are deliberated and decisions are decided upon in a way which may or may not make a complete lack of difference whatsoever to anybody and everybody involved? Why did the Anglo-Saxons ever stop speaking this way? Political meetings nowadays are more likely to involve elaborate metaphors about climbing the highways of opportunity in order to reach the participating communal enterprises of stakeholding equalities. Perhaps when you get down to it we all just have a widget plugged into the wrong whatsit, and if we untangle the network of thingumyjigs, we can get this political thing working again. I'll let Kevin Rudd know.

Despite - or perhaps because - of the fact that I have no idea what all this technology stuff does anymore, complex linguistic questions are involved. Why, aside from the obvious reason, does the name 'blog' seem to so perfectly express what I am doing now - and is it coincidental that it rhymes with an extremely familiar bodily function? When one uses Twitter, is one a 'twitterer', or a 'twat'? Can you be said to 'twitter' on Twitter, or do you twaddle on it instead? How on earth could you describe Facebook to the person who was you, three years ago? And can you facebook on twitter and twitter on facebook? For that matter, is it even possible to describe your job these days? I recently had occasion to ask the question 'what is an educational designer' of someone, and was told 'a person who designs education.' And my job title and description is pretty much the same. If you can't even describe what work you do properly, is it real work?

Things, whatsits, stuff, widgets, gadgets, twaddle. That pretty much sums up the universe, really. I suppose I should get back to work - that is, supposing there is actual work to get back to.

Jolly good, then!


Alexis, Baron von Harlot said...

I'm biguouser than you are.

TimT said...

I'm bivalent about your biguosity.

Alexis, Baron von Harlot said...

I'm not Persand Duck.

TimT said...

I am, therefore - I think.

Dan the VespaMan said...

Job titles seem to get more bizarre each day. At my office we don't have a "human resources" department anymore, it is instead called simply a "people" department. When you need to go and see them you tell your colleagues you are going to see a "people person" which in some ways sounds delightful.

I used to have the term "...officer" in my title and took delight in expanding it to "...officer and a gentleman" for anyone unlucky enough to ask me about my job.

TimT said...

"People" department makes it sound like they're into slaves. Which may or may not be accurate. I'm never able to work out why HR don't just call themselves 'jobs'.

phil said...

As distinct from what the people in the rest of an oragnisation usually call HR, which of course can't be reproduced in a family-friendly blog such as this.

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