About is about, distinct from the thing to which it refers. Seems obvious yet I’ve noticed in my speech, action and that of others how ‘about’ is used in a way that intends to substitute something close to, but exactly not the thing to which it’s referring. It’s use is often interchangeable with ‘like’. The implications of ‘about’ and ‘like’ not being the actual thing, are significant.
About is a preposition and indicates an approximation, a version, or commentary on a noun. The noun, or thing itself is could be anything, e.g. a feeling, thought, action, experience of being, relationship, communication, period of contemplation or action of eating.
Any action or communication that is about it or like it, is not it. About it, is some other version or action and won’t actually effective or be of the same value as the it, the thing itself.
Some examples from common experience where ‘aboutness’ or ‘likeness’ has consequences are: thinking about meditation, opining about the state of politics, reading about improving future relationships, worrying about work to be done, talking about acting from principle, caring about others, or learning about publishing.
An example of the consequences of about is that “thinking about thinking” has it’s merits and value, but is distinct from the thinking being referred to. The distance or approximation that leads to the distinction and use of preposition is the space that allows for observation and reflection i.e. thinking about thinking could enable new thinking.
However, the use of about, also allows for inaccuracy, unclarity, dissonance, disembodiment and takes time and attention away from thinking itself and signals the difference. About is not a substitute for it, yet we can talk, think, act and interact as though it is. This is inaccurate. It’s exactly not it, by definition as revealed in the communication.
About, in any context or sense of it, seems best held temporarily, as an observation or express that immediately leads action or directs attention back to it – the thing itself.
Notice the gap, the difference, signalled by use of the preposition that indicates approximation and close it.
The ‘about’ space is where selves, concepts, and whole worlds of ineffectiveness, inaccuracy, abstractness and distance get semi-consciously created and perpetuated.
Using the previous examples, the shifts would be from thinking about meditation to meditation, opining about politics to governing, reading about relating differently to relating differently, worrying to working to working, talking about acting from a principle to principles being, caring about others to being others….and publishing.
So, that’s all about it.
That is it.
This is it.