I’ve been hearing a phrase on the radio recently and today in the paper which refers to looking more closely at the details of a project. It’s used by interviewers to casually prod the interviewee to share the nitty gritty of their artistic process.

“Let’s unpack this experience of making this film…”

And from today’s LA Times article “A Shakespeare for our times”

It’s break time in rehearsals at the Music Center Annex in downtown L.A., and director Phylicia Rashad and actors Lillias White and Keith David exude familial warmth and ebullience as they unpack the musicality of August Wilson’s “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”…

Gary Goldstein, LA TIMES


Maybe it’s just me, but when I read that in an article or hear it on the radio, I just get annoyed. Usually it’s invoked with regard to an artistic project (but that could just be the things I listen to or read about – it may be in use much more broadly). Packing and unpacking represent the most boring phase of any vacation or trip. My least favorite thing to do when I travel is pack and unpack. Furthermore, when I’ve read the definition for this conceptual unpacking, thank you, but I don’t need or want things to be broken down into smaller, more manageable bits. I’m quite happy having  the whole big messy interview come at me and let me unpack it myself. Trust me when I tell you that I will take the socks and the pants and the unmentionables out of the story that I’m listening to or reading and I will put them in the appropriate drawer, filed them away until I need them to enhance a different outfit.

Let’s just be direct with our questions without wrapping them up in a Gucci bag or even a mere duffel. I really hope, but think if I’m looking at this word’s recent bump in use, that it’s probably way too late – it’s not like I’m in the vanguard of epistemological surveillance – that we can curb this frequent use of the word.

There, rant over. Unpacked and put away.






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