CONTENT is the subject of this week’s pause. Many meanings for this seven-letter word, depending upon the context I use to define it. Context is the setting or situation in which a phrase or word is used, and Content is the word or idea that make up a piece (of art, literature, grouping, arrangement—what holds a grouping, a piece unto itself yet open for navigation). I can discern the content of something from its context, but I can’t invert it with a vice versa.
Content differs in meaning depending on whether it is used as a noun or a verb; in a sentence or in a book; in art, language, and audience (adult or kids).
In literature, art, communication and all presence, content is experience and information directed toward an end user or audience. In most books, newsletters, journals and magazines, I can find a “table of contents” listing what I can find within the piece and where to find it. With art, I consider content and form as I review an artistic rendition. Form is the medium and content is contained within the medium as its subject. Content, as a noun, as a distinctive bent toward academia, the arts, and intellectual pursuits; however, it’s a word any of us encounter when we read the ingredients in a soup mix or the lists of books/articles/videos in a syllabus, even the steps that go into the process of assembling parts from a box. Content clarifies what we are questioning, exploring, or ready to study/read/ appreciate/navigate.
Content as an adjective or a verb has another meaning. When I am content, I am pleased, gratified, at peace with my situation, satisfied. While content is not a word like awesome or wow, it is a remark similar to, “It is well with my soul.” There are subtle nuances to this word that convey, “Less than perfect, but I’m okay with what is.” Content as a verb or an adjective is a generic term with many levels, depending upon the user and the context. When I say, “I’m content with that definition.”, what I really mean is, “This is enough for now. I might like developing this idea more fully, but it doesn’t work for me to do this now so I’m at peace with what is.”
My favorite Martin Luther King quote is, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”
Content, as a noun, is something all of us contribute to as authors, artists, captains, parents, and servants of our lives, the context we create, and the content contained within what we create. May we be content with the content of our character as we contribute to the content of our world.