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the language of landmark

topic posted Wed, June 2, 2004 - 3:31 PM by  leslie
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first, let me say that the landmark forum and other programs gave me tools that have helped me create one of the most kick-ass lives of anyone i know. my life truly rocks, thank you werner erhard and every other person who has contributed to these programs.

and... in the five years since i did the landmark forum and other courses, i've been constantly aware of the double-edged sword of landmark language. in fact, i observe that it's *the language* of landmark that is the biggest turn-off to people who haven't done the forum, or the particular course where a certain word or phrase is introduced and used.

as someone who works with language all the time, i am resistant to buzzwords, because i think they breed laziness of thought and descriptive powers.

so i have made a real effort to talk about how landmark affected my life **in english**. you know, words that everyone understands. when i'm with landmark people, and specifically in a landmark context, then i'll use the buzzwords, which are really just shortcuts of speech -- but most of the time i make a real effort to use other more descriptive words.

there's an old adage that if you can't say it simply, then you don't really understand it. applying that to landmark language, i feel that if you can't say it in real english, without constanty using words such as "breakdown," or "integrity," or "racket," "possibility" "clearing" etc., then it's very possible there is a laziness or glossing over of the the essence of what you want to communicate.

in other words, separating the language from the concepts makes it easier for me to communicate with people. otherwise, they (understandably) think that we all sound like cult freaks who are repeating buzzwords that are some kind of secret code... which isn't far off, because landmark re-invents many words with a very specific context that someone who hasn't sat in that room all those many days may find pretty obscure.

or maybe i'm just not committed enough to the possibility of standing in a clearing of integrity and commitment to being coachable through my breakdowns and rackets.. fill in the rest of the blanks. no, actually, don't. it sounds ridiculous.

other thoughts on the language of landmark?
posted by:
leslie
Nashville
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  • Unsu...
     
    I think you have an inauthenicity that you need to distinguish inside of empty and meaningless. In order to be touched, moved and inspired you must be present to freedom, power, and full self-expression. Inside of that, your strong suit is running the show and your integrity is out. I think you need to put some structures in existence that will presence you on a daily basis to what you're committed to. And you need invent a game. I recommend that you go through the Advanced Course, SELP, the Cap Course, CPP, Wisdom and ILP so that you can be a powerful IL and generate who you are as possibility, such that you create new realms of possibility and make a difference in the world as a leader in LE2020.

    Am I clear?

    In all actuality, those of us who have taken the Introduction Leadership Program are cautioned about using jargon. It can be alienating, and in fact, at least at the LA Center, we're no longer to use acronyms such as SELP, ILP, etc. We have to say the whole names of the courses!

    A mouthful, but a more understandable mouthful.

    Mousetrap
  • i go back & forth on this issue. on the one hand, ive heard many people say they are turned off by the jargon, and this is unfortunate, because it distracts people from what they can create. several of my coaches have encouraged us to NOT use terms such as "enrollment", "inauthenticity", "racket", when talking with the uninitiated.

    certain people in certain situations seem easier to reach with certain ways of talking. so there isnt one solution here.

    on the other hand, i find the new terminology extremely useful. there isnt any word in websters that means "to cause a new possibility to be present for another such that they are touched moved and inspired..."

    granted, there are other ways of saying that. but i like the word "enroll", and i like telling people what i mean by that, and i like the efficiency that comes with those terms. to me its no different than terms like "mutual fund" or "voltage" or "HMO", which are also quite complicated to explain, but once you get them, they are useful.

    the first time we use a new term with someone, its natural to explain what it means. i think landmark does a good job of that, and we can too, assuming the person is interested. if not, or we are in a hurry, then its natural to use the quickest way to communicate, which usually means using only words everyone knows.

    laziness, imo, is another subject. because one can be lazy with new terminology or lazy with common modes of expression. being lazy seems always available and never necessary.
    • Unsu...
       
      one of the most crucial distinctions around a successful enrollment conversation is having a BACKGROUND OF RELATEDNESS.

      you can't talk to non-landmark people while bandying about terms like possibility, racket, and enrollment when they have no fucking clue what that means. how are you going to leave them touched moved and inspired?

      i talk to the different people in the different communities i'm involved very differently IN ORDER TO CREATE POSSIBILITIES IN TERMS THEY UNDERSTAND. for example, when i'm at work, i will couch something in business terms:

      i dont think this worked. (revealing inauthenticity)
      where was the disconnect on this project? perhaps i misunderstood you? (impact)
      i want this to work effectively. let's try X. (creating possibility)

      whereas, if i'm talking to a friend or a member of some of the creative communities i'm involved in:

      i might say quite simply, i think this fucked up because i didnt communicate X to you.
      i really felt like X so i did Y. (impact)
      i want this to work. how can we make this work? let's make it like this instead of how it's been. (possibility)
    • i have a very good friend who has never done the landmark forum, but she has many friends who have, and she has adopted "enroll" into her general vocabulary... and she uses it to mean "get someone excited about what you're up to so they want to do it too" -- which is exactly what it means in landmark terminology, only without the buzzwords.

      great example of what i mean -- speaking in english shouldn't really require too much explanation. and that weird creepy feeling of cult language isn't there either.

      though making up a new word to describe something that never had a word before can be powerful -- it's at the crux of what landmark talks about that words create our world. i have a friend i met while living in thailand who's from istanbul -- where they have a word that english doesn't have... genusheltusl (that's phonetic from memory, not how they spell it) -- it is the word that describes the reflection of sunlight on water... we don't have a word for that in english, just a long awkward phrase -- and once i had a word to put to it, it took on a new reality for me.
    • In the forum, existing words are given very specific meanings, and those meanings are often based upon other words that have been redefined earlier in the Forum. Think of "realm" and "possibility". Both are common words, and each is strictly explained for the purpose of the Forum, and in a specific order. Since these words already have other (different or broader) meanings in daily conversation, and we have all (I assume) talked more before than after the Forum, that the "old" meaning may persist, still. Additionally, perhaps, even as we use and explain jargon, it meaning is altered in the listener's mind (attendee or not)to be more conversational in meaning. Think of medical terms that have been "popularized" into a broad definition, although it is still used as a specific jargon, "cranium", "internet", "engine", etc.


      Anyway, it would just be interesting to see the affect on communications of learning the jargon at the same time one is developing their general conversational skills. Are there any younger Forum grads out there, or any who have discussed this topic with young people who have carried Landspeak into everyday talk?
      • Unsu...
         
        I do have a friend who a) refuses to go to but b) respects Landmark Forum, who uses the distinction "enrollment" based on what she's heard us LMFers say. I know that's not exactly what you were asking for... but interesting nonetheless.
  • Unsu...
     
    Landmark focuses a lot of language, which I think at times can be wonderful, and at times can be distracting. It's possible to spend a lot of time in that environment, absorb a lot of the language, and then start using it 'cause it's appropriate in the context. I've found myself using the terminology when talking to other Landmark folk, and later realizing that didn't really encapsulate what I meant. Or someone might've told me about an opening they had around their racket and a new possibility they're creating around their integrity, and I've nodded sagely, and then realized I had no bloody idea what they were talking about.

    So I think the use of that language is a moment-by-moment thing. If I find that using a term will really communicate what I feel to someone else, and they'll really understand better as a result of me using it, then I'll use it. If it doesn't serve, or if I'm just throwing around terms to feel more enlightened, then I try to catch myself.

    One of the premises of Landmark is that language defines reality. So it makes sense it's a big focus of their education. I think it's valuable to look at the world through that lens, but can be limiting if you focus *too* much on the language you use.
    • Unsu...
       
      well said, jon.

      going back to the advanced course, language creates reality through aggreement. you therefore need to create reality for people in a terminology they understand.
    • Something worth being aware of: there are a whole lot of worlds that preceed language and that language is a "contraction" of...the actual words I use matter much less than where I'm coming from in the saying of it...When I'm really awake and in the moment with the people I'm talking with (about anything) I'm naturally going to make sure that anything I have to say is understood, AND that "I" understand everything I'm hearing...

      So what I'm saying is this -- it might be fun and interesting to play with language...but the juice is in the intention and aligning words and deeds with intention.

      Scott
      • Thank you Scott, for that statment. I'm new at all this and having some trouble getting it all ! but I'll keep doing the work.

        D~
        • Human...

          Just consider getting in touch with your underlying motivation in doing the work in the first place and come from there...it might be something as simple as love...so you'd come from love no matter what. And if people around you are reacting to you or being really weird, that could be a red-flag for you that you're not coming from Love, or whatever you underlying motivation for Being is.

          Fundamentally, coming from that you're enough and people around you are enough, and LIFE is enough would be a very powerful context to live life. It gives you the opportunity to come to every interaction already full, and not "needing" anyone else to fill you up...you then become a contribution to life rather than a vampire or a needy leach.

          All love,
          Scott
  • This is a great conversation.

    I have little to add, but I will say this:

    - Any system has a specialized language associated with it. We usually call it "jargon." And it is developed within the system in order to give people a way of communicating more effectively about what they're dealing with. Watch an episode of ER and you will be met full-face with it, all the mumbo jumbo the doctors and nurses throw at each other. "I need 20 ccs of epi STAT! He's in de-fib!! Crash cart, now!" All the abbreviations, numbers, etc. - they are people who speak that way in real life, and they understand all of that. In fact, they HAVE to, at some level, communicate like that in order to be effective in their jobs. They can't say, "I need that knife over there...the sharp one...no the OTHER sharp one, with the pointy part...oh fer chrissakes!"

    I work with computers, and we certainly have jargon. My brothers are sports fiends, and hell if I can understand what the fuck they're talking about when they get all worked up over sweaty men throwing a ball around.

    Landmark is a system for transformation, and it has jargon. We all know it well. And, at some level, we HAVE to use it, WITHIN Landmark courses, in order to communicate more effectively. Just like if we were repairing a computer, fixing a car or doing triple bypass surgery.

    The problem is when we're out of the computer lab, the operating room, what have you. Talking to people who don't have the lingo. Having done Landmark courses for close to a decade, I'm sensitive to the whole jargon thing, so I notice jargon everywhere. And watching ER, as my example, there's always the scene where the doctor goes out to the family and explains what is going on with their loved one. They don't use jargon. They don't bombard them with freakish words and abbreviations. They make as authentic a connection as they can, and explain, in plain English, what the hell is going on. Sometimes, they'll explain what a term means, but the best doctors are always IN THE LISTENING (hey! Jargon!) of the person they are speaking to. In my experience, when I share the extraordinary things I have in my life, and explain to people that some of them were direct results from my participation in Landmark courses, they get why I do it. They understand what's going on. And some register. And some don't. But they all get it and understand me a little better. Which is the point.

    - As for Landmark's emphasis on language, well, that's what it's all about in Landmark's paradigm. Landmark's entire ontology is predicated upon the notion that humans think in language, and that mastering one's language is one key to living powerfully. It works when you use it, and it is incredibly effective. But Landmark is not the be-all-end-all of transformational systems. There are other approaches to "transformation" that take different paths up the mountain.

    There are entire realms Landmark doesn't even touch, because, well, it's not DESIGNED to go there. The interesting phenomenon that I have experienced in my participation is that, though I grew up to be a very language- and analysis-focused person who put tremendous weight (well, let's be honest, ALL of my weight) in the value of intellect over emotion or spirit, I was able to move BEYOND that approach (because it was an inauthentic, past-based strong suit) and really open up my heart. By taking all these courses on language and thought, I found my heart, I experienced the ineffable, the unexplainable, the ripples of consciousness that words cannot wrap themselves around. I've always thought it was a mite bit paradoxical that an intellectual system was my access to my own emotions as well as my spirit.
  • I don't know, Leslie. I tend to use much of the Landmark verbage, if you will, when I speak with Landmark virgins. I think anyone can understand words like "racket" "possibility" "integrity" etc....I don't find the verbage obfuscating. But maybe that's just me. Anyway, I am happy for you and your kick ass life. I also am working on developing a possibility for myself of a kick ass life..my life right now is...life...I'm not sure kick ass is how I would presently describe it...but I do consider myself very lucky with what I have and it makes for good, solid, jumping off point as I continue to understand who I am and what it is I exactly have to offer...
    • i agree that a lot of landmark language is common english. like 'possibility' seems to be a word that means pretty much the same in everyday english as in landmark. but 'integrity' actually means something different in landmark, and 'racket' is something that is not a commonly used descriptive word in english in the same context as landmark at all.

      of course, most native english speakers don't know the world obfuscate, let alone use in a sentence ;^)

      my real point is that i think that often we use shortcut jargon in a lazy way, and that using real english challenges us to truly understand what we're saying so we can communicate it without relying on the crutch of jargon.

      i do want to add one thought -- the experience of creating an entirely new life with new possibilities bore absolutely no relationship to a good, solid jumping off point for me -- at least i don't think so -- all i remember was the terror and feeling that i really had just jumped off a cliff and was trusting possibility to help me fly. (this was most evident when i was in the process of moving to thailand -- alone -- having never traveled before anywhere other than mexico, and i was panicked -- but knew because of what i'd learned at landmark that it was the only choice for me) -- it was after i got the hang of the flying that i was able to look around and see that my life kicked ass.

      i tattooed wings on my back so i never forget.
      • Yeah, but your life wouldn't be "kick ass" if you couldn't share it. Landmark's entire premise is based on sharing. If you can't share, then Landmark loses all of its power.
        • maybe -- though maybe not.

          i'd say that my life kicks ass because i do the things i have learned are my priorities, and i have more skills to get past where i used to get diverted by fear.

          i *could* do that without sharing it... but that would never work for me. i'm all about sharing my experiences in order to encourage other people to take power in their lives. i've always been that way, long before landmark.

          i think i would agree that without sharing, landmark loses its momentum. and doesn't have the depth. it would lose some of its power, but not all... at least i think so.
  • Sometimes I say 'got it' and, amazing communication-effeciency aside, just want to slap myself.
    • actually i think "got it" started with est back in the early werner erhard days, and it became such a part of our regular language, i never had thought of where it originated until i went to landmark.

      it sure is a powerful two syllables, isn't it?


      • Quite powerful, yes. In a mere two syllables it signifies that you have, essentially, 'grokked' what another person is truly attempting to communicate thus allowing them to be heard and continue on.
        • Unsu...
           
          What is the distinction, "grok?"

          I have not heard that in any of the myriad seminars I've taken. I did hear a guy in dreads outside the Landmark Center use that word on his cell phone as I was hurrying inside to keep in integrity...


          ;-)

          Mousetrap
          • grok \GRAWK\, verb:
            1. To understand, especially in a profound and intimate way. Slang.


            "If you want to grok the language, get your mitts on the new Random House Historical Dictionary of American Slang."
            -- San Jose Mercury News, July 22, 1994



            "For those who don't quite grok the Web, it can be an intimidating challenge."
            -- New York Times, June 1, 1997.







            The slang word grok was coined by Robert A. Heinlein in the science fiction novel "Stranger in a Strange Land", where it is a Martian word meaning literally "to drink" and metaphorically "to be one with". It was adopted into the vocabulary of 1960's youth and hackish jargon, whence it has become a part of net culture.



            Dictionary.com Entry and Pronunciation for grok
            • grok is one of my favorite words, ever since i read stranger in a strange land... unfortunately, not many people grok it.
              • Indeed. I was reading 'Stranger in a Strange Land' the morning I was to take the Advanced Course. You can imagine my pleasdant surprise when the AC leader used 'grok' to help explain a new distinction. I think that was really when I began to fall in love with the Landmark courses. The Advanced Course was such a beautiful program. My entire future has altered from those 4 days. =)
  • Leslie, great job clarifying the distinction....I would comment that when a concept or experience becomes labeled and is shared as slang the experience dies and the word or phrase becomes meaningless without an intention to recreate the experience along with the words...

    Thanks for the gentle reminder and thanks for sharing your experience.

    Doug Scott
    est June/78
    Washington DC
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    I was in a Communication course, and the leader said something to the effect of "Don't use this language with people that don't know it. That's just wierd!"

    Everyone laughed.
  • Thanks Leslie for this great topic ( or wait ,let me 'acknowledge' you for taking the Education forward)
    What is termed as ' Landmark Lingo or Jargon' is actually technology - a set of distinctions which is used 'to distinguish' things for the user of the language -the grad and would make no sense to non-grads. Landmark vocabulary are tools we should use to create the result we want to create. Its our toothbrush. When we use it with non-grads, we are simply running a racket.
    I 'completed' with a friend yesterday and 'enrolled' her, had I said I want to 'complete' with you and give up inauthenticity and the rackets I was running would have made no sense to her. What I said was I was calling you my friend all these years and yet trying to avoid you. I apologize for hurting you all these years and I promise to be transparent and honest with you. I also thanked her for being in my life and for her love and gave her the right to pull me up for any future nonsense I would be doing.
    These problems I feel would not arise if we 'get' the distinctions.
    The distinctions are fingers used by the Education to point at the moon. If we grasp the fingers instead of looking at the moon, we are being 'inauthentic'.
    • Well, defend it, if you will, but Landmarkian speak sounds like a shortcut to thinking for those who can't put adjectives and nouns together for themselves.

      Faulkner, Fitzgerald and Bukowski could all get drunk in front of you, vomit, fall down, hit their heads on curbs and even then, still make more sense and be more erudite.

      Sorry, gang. Your cult has sold you tripe.
  • Unsu...
     
    When people try to beat you up and control you with est lingo you must kick and punch them in order to make them clear. You do this to get them off of it and bust their racket as well as their knobby heads. They will thank you for it.

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