The Group Monthly Letter: August 2013 – A Universal Language

by Geoff Hall on August 31, 2013

Hi Everyone,

Mentoring support for word, image and performance arts

Mentoring support for word, image and performance arts

I was watching an interview with actor Armand Assante on YouTube and this little theme of ‘film being a universal language’ was mentioned. In fact, it’s talked about a lot in film industry circles; about the language of film transcending borders and cultural boundaries.

In this Media Age it is perhaps a lingua franca flowing in mainstream culture. People are visually literate and can pick up visual clues, anticipate action and discern the goodness or badness of a character with such prompts.


When translators first approached working on the gospels, they believed that they may have to find a way of decoding what was expected to be a sacred Greek text. They were surprised to find that it was actually written in everyday, marketplace Greek, in the lingua franca of the day. There was no need to establish a cryptogram to translate special words into everyday language and which was only available to the initiated.


The power of its influence was not in a contrived sense of the sacred, set in the context of a wider and more corrupt secular world. Strangely, there was no divide, no secret sacred realm that truth had to be hidden away in, no sub-cultural vernacular to mystify the rulers of the Empire.


What has happened today is that the universal language has been replaced by a christian sub-cultural mode of communication, which converses well amongst the initiated, but has little or no relevance (or meaning) to the rest of the populus in the market-place. And we wonder why the good news ‘has lost its power’. The truth is to paraphrase Jesus (in Mark), we have replaced the commands of God with human traditions; we have established a mode of communication which stops at the border, which is no longer phrased in the lingua franca of our day, but is restricted, contained by sub-cultural boundaries.


When we add this ‘language’ to art, to film, we stop the medium from speaking in its universal language. It’s time to work from the premise that The Medium is the Message, that the word is better when it becomes flesh (or film) and not as words carved in stone, to bash people over the head with and convince them of the rational Truth.


Peace and Love to you all,



Hear! Hear! I’m getting increasingly fed up with the sub-cultural outdated and irrelevant modes of invented communication. Indeed there is no sacred, secular divide! We do indeed more desparately than ever need to use the lingua franc of today and tomorrow. McLuhan was right, I think I get it now! What solace to find such like-minded folk, trailblazing, setting the example, living their calling, being it, hammering away at the rock face!

by Ralph Mann on September 1, 2013 at 9:28 pm. Reply #

Hi Ralph,

Many will of course say that the words Jesus spoke was the content, but with McLuhan’s concept of ‘extensions of man’ such as books being an extension of our eyes, or cars being an extension of our feet I think that we can see that when the Word became flesh and he spoke that that was the content. However, I think in this case the words that He spoke were an extension of the heart.

And so it should be with us, so it should be with the work that we produce, that the word becomes, paint, or film, or music, or movement, that our work is an extension of the heart and not an additive to sanctify what we do.

by Geoff Hall on September 1, 2013 at 9:43 pm. Reply #

Words carved in stone are beautiful when made by the ‘fair’ (hairy) hands of Iain Cotton!

I have no argument with what you’ve written. It makes sense to me. But (does there always have to be a but?) I think that in my world I would love some of our Christian sub-culture words to be redeemed. Perhaps we have de-valued their potency of meaning and set them apart in a way that has divorced them from bearing significance in the world we all move in.

by Marco Cazzulini on September 2, 2013 at 11:12 am. Reply #

Dear Marco,
Which words would you like us to redeem?

In my mind the problem is not just the misuse of words, but the adding of others which have little to do with the narrative. Even if we strip those away I’d say it is also complicated by the world those words create, evoke and inform our worldview and direct our heart.

Yes, indeed I was waiting for someone to come to Iain’s defence! He does make beautiful things.


by Geoff Hall on September 2, 2013 at 4:13 pm. Reply #

Thank you Marco for leaping to my defense! Words carved in stone do indeed have a power and potency, But I wouldn’t go as far as bashing people over the head with them!

by Iain Cotton on September 2, 2013 at 10:38 pm. Reply #

As if indeed you needed defending by a painter, or anyone else for that matter!!

It was purely a metaphorical, allusive reference, no offence implied. No sculptors were hurt during the writing of this letter!


by Geoff Hall on September 2, 2013 at 11:11 pm. Reply #

Leave your comment


Required. Not published.

If you have one.