Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Use Your Allusion
Finally, someone (not me) said we should perhaps just cut the Gordian Knot. Some of us expressed agreement, the rest had blank looks.
Yes, another classical allusion had been used. And, for those who knew the reference, most effectively as well.
If you're not familiar with the story, in ancient times the Gordian Knot was considered such a complex knot that it was impossible to untie. Alexander the Great, wishing to untether a cart secured by the Gordian Knot, didn't bother to try untying the impossible knot -- he simply unsheathed his sword and cut the rope. The Gordian Knot was still intact, but no longer an impedance to the use of the cart.
Which was the point my colleague wanted to make at the meeting? If we can't solve this problem (which wasn't our main task), let's cut loose the people causing it and move on.
And that's the value of having a basic knowledge of the classics. Clear communication in a small number of words. After all, "Cutting the Gordian Knot" is only four words --and look at how many it took to explain the phrase.
Day 101 of the WJMA Web Watch.