Wednesday, February 25, 2009

DBC 1/7

Edward de Bono, previously best known for inviting us to wear toothbrushes in our shirt pockets, has developed his own special code. Like all of Mr. de Bono's ideas, it doesn't seem to be in response to any obvious defect in the English language. Indeed, this week's message expresses disappointment that, rather than coming up with craaazy new ideas, people only ever "solve problems." The de Bono Code (DBC) certainly has no such shortcomings. On first examination, it's hard to see whether any problem could be solved by talking in code.

bears some resemblance to the international maritime code. Much like means "I wish to communicate with you," "DBC 5/10" means "Thank you very much for your comments. They are much appreciated. Thanks for taking the trouble to communicate with me." Similarly banal phrases make up most of the rest of the de Bono Code banks, divided into such thrilling categories as "negotiation", "response", "attention directing", and "meetings".

While I'm sure any meeting would be livened up by judicious recourse to the Edward de Bono Official Code Book, the DBC truly shines in section 14, codes for ending relationships. Whichever way you want to leave your lover, there's a code for it. From
"This relationship has run its course. It was never meant to be a long-running event. It was great, but now it's over"
"The plain truth is that I have met someone else. It is best you hear this directly from me,"
painful situations can be streamlined with the de Bono Code. If breaking up with your girlfriend requires too much talking and feelings and crying, or if you're just strapped for time, text (or tweet!) "DBC 14/9". If she knows her DBC, she'll get the message.

By contrast, the section on moods, No. 10, is disappointing. Mr. de Bono notes:
"Very few people find it easy to indicate their mood to others. The most people manage is 'I am tired' or 'I am under pressure'. To this might be added: 'I got to bed late last night' (meaning 'I have a hangover')."
It's definitely illuminating to know that when Edward de Bono goes to bed late, he goes to bed drunk, but the ensuing mood codes, focused on feelings of happiness, anxiety and sadness, provide no way to express in DBC that you are hungover. It seems like being hungover is one circumstance in which it would be helpful to describe your mood in an 8-character shorthand, but the DBC does not provide us with the tools to do it. On the other hand, Mr. de Bono is always soliciting ideas from his reading audience. Let's help him out!
  • 10/25: "I drank 2 bottles of wine last night and 8 shots of Jaegermeister. My vision is fading in and out, and I have a splitting headache. I'm going to lie in my office with the lights off."
  • 10/26: "I have been up for 5 days straight on a crystal meth binge. I am full of energy and confidence, but increasingly worried whether there are bugs crawling on me"
  • 10/27: "I am sleepwalking under the influence of Ambien. I have limited awarness of my surroundings, and poor motor control. Please don't let me operate heavy machinery."
  • 10/28: "I am high on PCP, and inexplicably enraged. You are nothing to me, and as a god-like creature, I can destroy you with a flick of my wrist. Beware!"
If these code words defuse even one awkward situation, Edward de Bono can consider his system a success. What it would look like as a failure, I'm not sure.


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