Friday, 28 December 2012

The Menu is Not the Meal: The Worrying Use of Words in the World of Tai Chi


If you can control the meaning of a word, you can control those that have to use it, said Philip K Dick, and today, we are going to end this year-long series with a simple insight into language and the complications that arise when we try and define, delineate and demarcate…when we search for certainty and definition in a surreal and increasingly subjective world. 

Today we Say Hello and Wave Goodbye with a quote from our old bearded and British pal Al Watts: "The menu," said Al "is not the Meal."

In this conclusive episode I want to look at the use and abuse of Words. Over the last year we have seen how words come and go like a posture in the form. Last week we looked at words like efficiency and how to Get Things Done and concluded that one of the most curious methods of productivity for the 21st century urban warrior -  intent on the path of least resistance and a life consistent with loose hips and well lubricated knees -  was to simply leave things alone.

Leaving things alone is part of the great Tai Chi tradition of Letting Go of Stuff, in this case the need to Prod a Small Fish as we fry up the days lunch, for if we prod and we prod, if we interfere too much, if we try too hard, then what is left loses clarity, substance and shape…and in the case of the fish… its fishy shape and its and fishy taste. 

This year of podcasting has been an attempt to remind us all that by over prodding we risk losing the flavour, and therefore the point of what we do. We can see this as systems and individuals obsess over Correctness

  • The correct use of the apostrophe in the description of the art 
  • The correct choice of of a 'C' or a 'Q' in the spelling of the word Chi/Qi 
  • The correct location to display ones accumulated weekend certificates
  • The correct technique for ironing those satin pyjama bottoms for the next youtube exclusive fajin demonstration. 
You see, it all starts when we begin to seek the One Path, the One Way...when we seek the One fountain of Knowledge. Then ensues a claim of exclusivity regarding the correct position of an elbow in the  short form, the angle of the little toe when concluding Golden Rooster, or the definitive height of your left eyebrow in the Greater Venusian Orbit Chi-Channel. 

It all start when we obsess over the correct use of words. But the menu, is not the meal.....l

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Also on this final Weeks Wordy episode:

* Beware the problems of over prodding your fish 
* Beware of seeking the One Path
* Beware the presence of suffocating mantras
* Beware the presence of clarity in thngs other than soups

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Talking Tai Chi has been a weeky podcast touching on the themes presented in the Tai Chi Trilogy: The Manual of Bean Curd Boxing,  Ways of Learning and 50 Questiions and Answers. You can download all the older episodes on the above links. The Tai Chi Trilogy, amongst other material can be found here: http://booksbypaulread.weebly.com


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