Finding the Rosetta Stone ~ communicating and miscommunicating

 Finding the Rosetta Stone ~ communicating and miscommunicating


I’ve been silent here for a few weeks. Part of this is because both work and personal life have been stressful and fatiguing, but part of it is because I felt as though I’d somehow not measured up. I felt as though I’d not managed to convey what was in my mind in such a way that meant it was understood easily. Words are sometimes imperfect messengers; one can use too many or too few and often use the wrong ones, or the right ones in the wrong way.

I felt frustrated by my own inexpertise.

So, I shut up.

About time too, perhaps some might think. Who do I think I am, to be sharing my thoughts with all and sundry?

But it did set me thinking about what could make communicating easier and clearer. About what might scotch the misunderstandings that lead to fights between loved ones and even between nations. And what changes I might need to make to make my own attempts at dialogue with the world better.

I wrestled with metaphors as a hunter might wrestle with bears or crocodiles and inevitably came off the worst.

So I stayed silent.

London was quiet this weekend, and it meant for the first time I could get close to this statue I’d never managed to photograph before without someone else being in the photo:


I stared for some minutes and remembered a poem I’d always loved:



I met a traveler from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal these words appear:
“My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

As Shelley wrote this poem, no one could read hieroglyphs, and no one knew the names of the Pharoahs so guesses were made to give names to the statues etc. At the same time, diligent work was being done to decipher this strange writing. By 1822, enough progress had been made to begin to read ancient Egyptian and find the true names of the lost kings of the old kingdoms. The key to understanding was this inscription: which was written in three languages. The same words, using different letters in different languages. It revolutionised the study of ancient Egypt. It was the missing piece of the puzzle.

So what is the missing piece in my problem? What would make communicating difficult, nebulous, mystical concepts easier? What would make sharing the contents of my psyche and soul clearer?

I think I may know the answer.