An Impossible Glossary

a list of practical, problematic terms – used within the Creative People and Places programme – and their contradictory, shifting, uncertain meanings


  • The thing that must be done, measured, reported upon



  • Something to be argued about [see QUALITY]
  • A matter of class
  • From a Latin base, meaning 'put together, join, fit'. Its first definition in the OED is 'Skill as the result of knowledge and practice'. It is not until the third definition that we get a mention of the 'application of skill according to aesthetic principles'



  • A place filled with hope



  • Desired. Feared. Resisted. Fought For.
  • Involves loss. Promises gain.
  • Often referred to in funding applications [see FUNDING]



  • The thing that will save us
  • A group of people with some connection, either self-selected and/or imposed by circumstance
  • A desired state
  • A nostalgic term for something lost
  • Something we want to (are paid to?) engage with [see ENGAGEMENT]



  • A term used by those with power in relation to those without power [see COMMUNITY]



  • When the money runs out
  • When the energy runs out
  • When we have made ourselves superfluous
  • When there's nowhere else to go
  • One person's end is another's beginning [see BEGINNING]
  • It happens to us all



  • A contract, involving love and commitment and time (often initiated by one party kneeling before the other)



  • A term used to describe something done often [see PRACTICE] but not valued [see VALUE]. Has the capacity to be extraordinary [see EXTRAORDINARY]
  • An insult



  • Something to be remarked upon
  • Not something you see everyday [see EVERYDAY]
  • Something to be remembered
  • An insult



  • That’s the million dollar question



  • How far are you prepared to walk?*



  • An action, often repeated



  • The journey from A (no project) to Z (end of project). [See END and PROJECT]



  • A unit of measurement for something that keeps changing its shape



  • A nest of vipers
  • A booby trap
  • Something to be argued about [see ART]



  • Something to be missed, lost, stretched to breaking point



  • Why do we do what we do? What is the point? Where is the gold?


*In 1999-2000, 89 year old Doris Haddock walked 3,200 miles across the United States to demand campaign finance reform



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