The best way to explore understanding of human nature in short bursts is to write and/or read brief and totally abstract poetry. Prose wants to explore a theme or reasoned conclusion, and does tend to run on.
The problem with brief bits is that context is limited, and, as many say: “context is everything”. The advantage of brief abstract poetry (and of slogans, and of bumper stickers) is that an “aha” can be triggered, enjoyed, without much effort.
Before I trap myself into writing a long explanation of this post title, I’ll cut to the chase with a scenario. Imagine yourself quietly going about your affairs. Maybe you’re gardening, maybe you’re on your way to the post office. Imagine a jogger runs by and, in passing, calls out a witticism, or a seemingly profound, deep but very quick, remark. What you hear is “exploring humanity in a short burst”. What you do with what you hear, how it influences you or not, is up to you.
You have no context for the remark you’ve heard. No way of knowing the jogger’s mind, no way of knowing “where she/he comes from” in their world view. You are in no position to learn much about the humanity of the jogger. You are in no position to share anything about your own humanity. There’s little context.
If whatever you hear raises your curiosity, the remark stays with you, and you might repeat it to someone. It’s possible a discussion, a further exploration, might develop. It’s possible you, and others, will launch deeper exploration out of the chance remark from the jogger.
It’s also possible the remark ‘confirms or challenges’ your personal world view. If it confirms, you may begin to quote the remark; it becomes part of your ‘arsenal’ of argument points. If it challenges, you may re-speak the remark to point out ‘stupidity’ of others, or you may pretend you didn’t hear it.
Context lets us know where a thinker/speaker is ‘coming from’. Context lets us better understand other points of view and points of argument. Ideally, context gives us details and information we’d not previously known. Once we’re better informed, we can more intelligently understand and identify biases. – of others, and of ourselves. With greater ‘bias awareness’, we can correct the parts of our own thinking that qualify as ‘ignorant’. With less ignorance, we can participate more helpfully in civic affairs. With less ignorance in civic management, everybody wins!
The problem is – providing ‘context’ takes time!! “Brief bursts” of wit or wisdom only add to human increased wisdom if we take the time to explore what is meant, and what is implied. Don’t get me wrong – I’m very fond of abstract poetry and other art forms that offer minimal context. I’m fond of ‘abstract’ phrases and single-word concepts. “Know Thyself”; “All is One”, Justice, Compassion. These are great! But they require effort to develop into understanding!
As said: the problem with brief bursts of wit and wisdom is lack of essential, informative, context. The problem with context is that it takes time to offer and/or receive.
I am ultra-aware of context. I try to write posts that offer ideas, that point to themes for further discussion, further exploration. Sometimes I am very pleased at posts that are especially brief, because I know I can go on at length.
Sometimes I learn a reader has visited a post of some time back, and out of curiosity I re-visit that post. I am sometimes amazed at how badly I missed offering clear “direction” of idea for further discussion! Often I’ve skipped over relevant context in my commitment to “be brief”. This morning I re-read, and re-worked “Personal Experience Shapes Powerful Leaders”, (posted January 22, 2011). I hope it is now more likely to encourage readers to follow the link and view “The Trap” documentary. If I had tried, in that post, to re-tell, re-explain, what is available in the documentary, the length of my post is unimaginable!
My original post of “Personal Experience Shapes Powerful Leaders” was, I think, similar to that of a jogger dashing by. The revised post fleshes out my point a bit, I hope. I also hope it is suitably brief!