It's been quite a week here for various reasons. One of the things I've been thinking about is how names give shape to meaning. Have you ever had a feeling but couldn't quite make sense of it and then it dawned on you what the feeling was, and all of a sudden a whole bunch of stuff started to fall into place and make sense? That. Until you know what to call something, it is hard to make sense of. There is always the danger of giving things names that aren't the right names - that can cause a lot of problems!
Why am I thinking about this? Because it's my job. Basically. Dealing in metadata all day, we have a very limited scope of terms available, but we're working with a really responsive team, and they ask for the terms they need. Or sometimes they ask why we want to add a term. I wouldn't say every term leads to an interesting discussion, but a good number of them do.
Besides being in metadata, it's metadata and content about research - so it's studies literally about identifying and naming insights, experiences, and recommendations based on that. How to represent experience in these little weird black squiggles on a screen or page is a daily discussion that I never seem to tire of.
How to represent experience is how I started off this week with Mother's Day. We went to see U2 live as they are touring behind the 30 year anniversary of their album, Joshua Tree.
(We *could* have been higher up in the stadium). I'll admit, it wouldn't have been how I would have chosen to celebrate the day. I'm a pretty classic introvert and my idea of a good time does not involve literally thousands of people, pretty much ever, much less stadiums. As it all got closer, I resolved myself to the fact that this was going to be a thing that was going to happen, and it would make my little family happy.
We got there, we eventually got to our seats, as I settled in, it was a pleasant spring evening, though there were dark clouds that threatened rain. I'm happy to say it didn't rain. The opening band was nice enough. A good opening band for U2. Solid.
It wasn't until between sets that I really settled. While they were breaking down the opening band set and getting ready for U2, on the screen they scrolled poetry. Poetry that spoke to the themes of Joshua Tree, and to U2's core value set. I sat there and read the poetry as it went past. As I relaxed and allowed the moments to unfold as they would unfold, letting go of expectation and desires for something else, I relaxed and allowed myself to be open.
I thought I was prepared. I've seen U2 before. Like their opening band, they put on a good solid show. They know how to put on a show that is both intimate and scales to the size of the crowd they're working with. It's really sort of amazing to pull that off.
I was not prepared.
This is the backdrop of the show. It was really quite stunning. But, that just added to it all. They actually started out pre-Joshua Tree with Sunday Bloody Sunday from their 1983 album War, which is a song in part about the Bloody Sunday incident in Derry, Northern Ireland in 1972 where, per Wikipedia,
British soldiers shot 26 unarmed civilians during a peaceful protest march against internment (imprisonment without trial). Fourteen people died: thirteen were killed outright, while the death of another man four months later was attributed to his injuries. Many of the victims were shot while fleeing from the soldiers and some were shot while trying to help the wounded. Other protesters were injured by rubber bullets or batons, and two were run down by army vehicles. - [Bloody Sunday (1972)]
It also harkens to the 1920 Bloody Sunday. Both were escalations of hostilities between opposing forces in Ireland. In a time when it feels very much like everything is polarizing and escalating in ways that are explicitly explosive - from #blacklivesmatter, to Standing Rock/#nodapl, to the slap in the face of democracy that is the Trump administration nightmare reality show, to Syria, to Russia, to Afghanistan, to so many so many so many places.
For reference, here's the song... And this is how it starts out -
I can't believe the news today
And here we are, continuing to sing this song. And so I cried because sometimes what else is the proper response? (There is no proper response).
Oh, I can't close my eyes
And make it go away
How long must we sing this song
How long, how long...
So to say I was unprepared is wildly an understatement. The entire concert was really just sitting or through waves of emotional response that I was not prepared for. Joshua Tree, the album is (more wikipedia), ... influenced by American and Irish roots music, and through sociopolitically conscious lyrics embellished with spiritual imagery, it contrasts the group's antipathy for the "real America" with their fascination with the "mythical America".
So, very resonant for the times. The song Where the Streets Have No Name refers to a story about Belfast where a person's religion and income are evident by the street they live on. Which brings us back to naming showing or hiding attributes that mean many things can fall into place, and how the absence of naming can not only mean that thing that you can't quite put your finger on, but can provide freedom to create your own story, to give something a new and different name, a new identity, undefined by what has gone before.
There is power in naming. There is power in words. There is power in knowing when it's time to let go of what you think you want and power in letting things unfold. There is power in taking direct action to change things. We must remember and do all these things.
With love and curiosity,,