Content Alone is Meaningless

One of these days I am going to erase every tape in the world
…In the world…world…
Tomorrow I may do it…
All the Frank Zappa Masters…
Nothing… Blank… Empty… Space…
That’s what they are now…
Blank… Empty… Space…
I know he’s sitting in there,
In the control room now,
Listening to everything I say
But I really don’t care
Hello Frank Zappa!

Content cannot exist without being contained — it presupposes a container (its context).

When people tell you all that matters is content, they are thereby declaring themselves to be utter morons.

Take, for example, a random statement like “I’m sleepy” — or simply the word “sleepy”. The content, so to speak, is a string of six characters (and even this content must be understood in the context of the entire writing system). Perhaps you could reduce it ad absurdum and say that it’s simply an arrangement of black and white in 2-dimensional space. Even then, the “content” is still set in the context of the physics involved in differentiating between light and dark. Do you see how ridiculous this is?

Normal people will see a link between “sleepy” and “sleep”, between activities normal humans engage in, and probably many things more — such as the supply and demand for “free time”. It is really not possible to understand the meaning of any expression without taking its context into account (this was also one of Ludwig Wittgenstein’s greatest insights).

Ideally, one should view content and context as complements. In other words: they cannot exist without each other. If you focus only on one, than you are missing half the story — and that is a lot to be missing.

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