Meaning-seeking missiles

I have been asked by a number of people who have read my last posting on ‘splitting and linking’ to expand on what I meant by the sentence: Besides being linguistic systems, on a deeper level we are actually meaning-seeking systems.

I had a fascinating breakfast with some of my wife’s friends this morning. We were a group of six – 2 men and 4 ladies. It was in the middle of the breakfast that the conversation moved into the ‘art arena’. I mentioned that I had gone to the von Gogh’s art exhibition in Basel, Switzerland in June this year. Unknowingly (to me), one of our party has a Fine Arts degree and as she added her insights and knowledge into the understanding of the various artists and their paintings, I became more and more enthralled and excited. I felt liberated and there was much joy in our group as we all contributed to the meaningful conversation.

Meaning-seeking systems thrive in situations where understanding is not yet complete, where there is more to the issue, where there are further perceptions to consider. Meaning-seeking systems are open systems that generate more and more insights. These insights unfold as ‘splitting and linking’ occur in our conversation. And the vehicle for this to unfold is in language, but more importantly in attitude. The conversational flow needs to be underpinned by an attitude of co-operation and ‘not-knowing’ for the meaning-seeking system to kick into top flight.

Ideas that resonate with our internal world, coupled with the ability to challenge this world is where the complexity of meaning exists.  In other words, ‘connection’ and ‘challenge’ are what is required for deeper meaning to unfold. But there is another energy that the creation of meaning is dependent on; and that is the energy of joy and love. Meaning is  not absolute  and unchanging. Meaning is being created. In fact, deeper meaning is co-created. And it is in the relationships between people where language flows and where deeper meaning gets co-created.

Great art works are perfect playgrounds where meaning-seeking systems can gain deeper insights as well as to generate further information flow. Since art is a visual stimulation and can be interpreted in language in a ‘thousand or more’ different ways, it offers a target for the heat-seeking missiles to connect with. On a metaphoric level, I suppose meaning-seeking systems can be equated to playful heat-seeking missiles that seek to create (as opposed to destroy).

We all have unique personal stories to tell of some or other life experience. These personal stories have deep meaning to us. But as we share these stories in a loving, co-operative and curious interpersonal context, they re-ignite into further insights and ‘new’ meaning emerges. This is the nature of meaning-seeking systems. No insight is ever complete.

Deep meaning for me
Art that has special meaning for me

4 thoughts on “Meaning-seeking missiles

  1. Lutz Otto

    Ken your thoughts in this wonderful writing strongly resonate with me.

    I believe that we could unleash new heightened levels of performance if we facilitated environments where “people could just be”. When people are relieved of societal, as well as self imposed negative pressure, they can free the conscious to engage in “meaning seeking”. I think, and have sometimes observed, that this can be assisted by allowing people to build the confidence to be comfortable within who-they-are.

    In contrast though many of us seem to enter in-and-out of uncomfortable mental spaces, which I think are often manifested from illogical or unhealthy societal group think, that do not allow for our own uniqueness to unfold. I think that demanding-pace, approval seeking behaviour, various forms of fear and unfounded ego cause the [1] need-to-be-heard, [2] already-know-before-listening-to-what-has-been-said and [3] deep-
    emersion-within-self to often over-ride the opportunity of properly entering into discussions allowing for “meaning-seeking”.

    When I revisit your writing and also work thought my thought, I believe that it is our challenge to try, as best as we can or are allowed too, create fear free, trustful environments. If we can create these, then we can allow ourselves, and those who we are surrounded with, to enter a conscious physiological space were we are able to enjoy unhindered exploration and expansion.

    Have a great day and thank you for allowing us to think deeper!

  2. Ken Jennings

    Meaning is co-created and depends on relationships that are co-operative, reflective, playful and emotionally safe.

    As you mentioned, we are involved in many relationships that ‘block’ or prevent an open exchange of ideas. The sad thing is that many of these relationships are with friends and/or family members. In such relationships, you tend to say what is expected and with it, a ‘stale’, repetitive, rigid pattern of information unfolds that does not allow much deeper meaning to emerge. Also, emotional drama, manipulation and ‘control’ in relationships are toxic to any meaning-seeking process.

  3. Lutz Otto

    Ken I believe that often, particularly within highly competitive environments [such as corporates or sport], we threaten the very competitiveness we are trying to develop by allowing the participation of what I would term “A-War-Of-Statements”. Through participating in this behaviour we neither [1] truly listen or allow a real forum to [2] openly share ideas, the need to be heard, for whatever reasons [I would suspect mostly related to ego, need for approval or fear], therefore immediately undermine true unhindered forward movement.

  4. Ken Jennings

    Your image of ‘a war of statements’ is very powerful. One should also guard against one idea being so dominant that it reduces the interpersonal space for other ideas to emerge.

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