The Imperfection of Communication: Is Your Communication Imago? (Part 2)

Last week’s post celebrated several conflicting interpretations of a flash fiction piece I wrote. Unfortunately, we rarely experience miscommunication issues with joy.  When I speak, I want synchronicity of understanding with my audience.  Is that hard to achieve? Yep!

An incorrect interpretation creates a miasma that fills in the lacuna in our words.

Did you understand that sentence? You might try to interpret what I meant through context, or maybe your mouth oscitated in shock, while you thought, “Barbara's talking about communication issues, and she tosses difficult words in the mix?”

A simpler version of my sentence above might be:

An incorrect interpretation creates a stinky mess that fills in the gaps in our words.

(FYI, oscitated means gaped .)

Simpler words increase the chance you’ll mirror my meaning, but they don’t guarantee it.  We bring our own experiences to the conversation, throwing everything off  because the significance of a word for me is different for you.

For fun—when you read the last word in this post, consider it. What image do you see?  How do you feel about it?  Few people will see or feel exactly the same thing.  Post your answer and see.



It's Campaign Challenge time again, so for those of you not involved in this campaign, here's the challenge I tried to meet in the post above:

Write a blog post in 200 words or less, excluding the title. It can be in any format, whether flash fiction, non-fiction, humorous blog musings, poem, etc. The blog post should:
·         include the word "imago" in the title
·         include the following 4 random words: "miasma," "lacuna," "oscitate," "synchronicity,"
If you want to give yourself an added challenge (optional and included in the word count), make reference to a mirror in your post.
For those who want an even greater challenge (optional), make your post 200 words EXACTLY!

I've got exactly 200 words. So how did I do?  For fellow challengers, I'm number 146 .  If you like this, please vote for me.


OK. You're on the honor system here! If you want to post what you saw and felt when you read the word "cat", please don't read others' entries until you've posted your own. I wouldn't want you to be swayed by someone else. Also, if you saw a house cat, please describe it's coloring, size, hair length, etc.

Have fun.
Katy Upperman said…
What a cool interpretation of this challenge!

When I saw CAT, I was totally turned off. I'm not a cat person AT ALL, and I'm allergic. I immediately thought of misery and sneezing and itchy, watery eyes.
Jen said…
I love the approach you've taken here! Very original!
The cat I saw is a sandy-coloured domestic shorthair. He's trying to sit on my laptop as I type, so I was never going to picture any other sort!
My entry for the Challenge is #3.
Luanne G. Smith said…
I thought about writing something similar for the challenge, because the words we're supposed to use are such poor choices for flash fiction (or any fiction for that matter). As you said, they create more confusion than understanding, and that only hinders the writing. Gah! It's just a challenge, but I still couldn't bring myself to write a piece of fiction using those words.

Also, I thought of my neighbor's striped cat, the one with the blue collar and white feet that sneaks around my yard and scares my dog.
F.E. Sewell said…
I immediately envisioned my cat - a 17 lb. smokey domestic longhair that spends most of his day looking angelic and princely and most of the evenings chasing our German Shepherd around the house and getting into other trouble.

Fun concept for the challenge, btw!
Cheryl said…
When I saw the word 'cat' I saw a stripey-faced mini tiger of a house cat with the special 'cat smile' look on its face. Then I looked over to her perch by the window, and there she was, basking in the sunlight and looking all queenly.

Great entry, by the way, Barbara, the words did not seem out of place at all and it was very conversational and clear.
Cherie Colyer said…
Nice post. I saw a little tabby kitten, probably because I think kittens are adorable.
A short haired black and white cat, looking like he had on a black mask. He was my cat and I named him bandit (about 30yrs ago). ; )
I'm loving the variety here. What about the emotions attached to the word cat? What are you feeling when you read that word?

Me? I'm like Katy. Yuck! I'm allergic.

PS I've done this activity in training classes and had people see cats, dogs, lions, tigers, caterpillar equipment, catfish, cat paw prints, witches (around Halloween), and more!
Maeve Frazier said…
I love your interpretation. I am not into cats, but still enjoyed reading this.
David P. King said…
Nice one, Barbara! It's actually refreshing to read a blog post every once in a while. Love how you used the words.

Great job! :)
Erin Richardson said…
The word "Cat" automatically spawns the following thought, that I may or may not say out loud..."cats are from the devil." I'm sure the fact that I am severely allergic to them plays into that sentiment, but the fact that they do not respect property boundaries contributes as well.
Jamie McHenry said…
I thought of Egypt. This was nicely done and made a fun activity out of the challenge. Good luck!
alberta ross said…
my two - younger and older cat who sit and watch me endlessly - who demand yes I say demand - a foolish thing to do:) they keep me company, they make me smile they are my delight

You wove those words so well - great stuff
Crystal Collier said…
Hee hee. You come to the point where you sacrifice art for clarity. It took me too many years to realize how important that is. *sigh* Goes to show even hard heads like me do eventually learn.

Great post--and did you actually complete the challenge? Yikes! I never would have guessed. Nicely done.
Myne said…
Using the big words to illustrate communication issues was spot on. I also liked the writing style.

I gave you the versatile blogger award in my latest post. Check it out and pass it on.
Golden Eagle said…
The first thing I thought was "Oh, you're kidding!".

LOL. I love pets, but I wouldn't want another cat. For a long time. :P

Great approach to the challenge! This is one of the few actual blog posts that I've come across.

My entry.
K.T. Hanna said…
My cat. I have a black and white terror of a cat. She's a terror to everyone but me. And I adore her :D

Loved your use of the challenge words too!
Nadja Notariani said…
What a great piece! Conveying our meaning when we write is so difficult to achieve. When we hear the spoken word, we have the benefit of intonation, pitch, dramatic pause, and word stresses. Add in the face-to-face benefits of expression and gesture, and meaning becomes much clearer in many instances. Writing in, through precise word choice, those above mentioned facets is a challenge, indeed!

I pictured my cat, Eilish, who I had to give away after 6 years! I ended up in the hospital with hives covering my body and face, hooked up to I.V. meds, and miserable on Christmas Eve morning! Apparently, you can develop severe allergies at any time in your life to things which never bothered you before. Who knew?? I loved that fat little girl...she was such a sweetie. ~ Nadja
Sher A. Hart said…
Oh, how different and fun! Only the 2nd I've seen that wasn't a story, and ingenious use of the words to demonstrate why we should choose our words carefully. I skipped past the other comments to answer the cat question. I saw my cat Furball. How odd that I just blogged about him yesterday, by accident. Really, he jumped into my blog title and sat there, insisting I acknowledge his furry charm. This morning I added his picture, not the best of his winter mane, but it does show his "I'm a cat, pet me now,you lowly human" attitude.
Anonymous said…
Great take on the challenge and getting all those words in there :) first thought was of algae eyes blinking at me from under a piece of furniture. She was the shiest cat I've ever met :) The word cat brings back fond memories of her greeting me at the door after work, her grooming the hair on my forearm while we watched TV, and sharing pizza.
Susan Boyer said…
I envisioned a typical, Halloween, black cat. I have an aversion to cats that dates back to when I made the mistake of allowing two cute little girls to have two cute little kitties in our house. The girls were really cute—and persuasive. Of course, they promised to clean the litter box, take care of the kitties, etc. But that’s not what happened. It left an impression, taking care of the kitties.

I guess I’ve always been more of a dog person, anyway—outdoor dogs.
Unknown said…
'Cat' is my naughty ginger and white cat, who insists on helping me work by sitting on the keyboard. I've had a fair number of feline friends over the years, but this one certainly has the biggest personality. Loved your take on this challenge :-)
Jess said…
Oh, I love it! Great job, very original!

I really like cats but unfortunately I'm allergic :(

(I'm entry #112)
MISH said…
Great approach to the challenge . Something different & refreshing !
I thought of the word "catharsis" ... simply because I'm not a lover of the feline furry-creatures .
My entry at no.#185
Anonymous said…
What a creative way of approaching this challenge! Loved it.

I must be tackling too much road construction lately. Cat, to me, immediately brought an image of a Caterpillar bulldozer or grader plowing away at the earth.

Good thing this wasn't a Rorschach test. Ha!

Again, GREAT job with the challenge. I am #175.
Bryce, I usually get someone who comes up with Caterpillar equipment, so don't feel bad. It just proves the point I'm trying to make.

Thanks for stopping by.
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