So, What Does It Mean to Grok In Fullness?


[A picture of Bill's grok definition]
The word grok is probably copyrighted by Robert A. Heinlein or his widow Virginia Heinlein. The word Webster is probably copyrighted by some dictionary publishing company. Both are used without permission. The form, style, layout, and content of the dictionary-style definition above is Copyright © 1996 by William A. Parrette.


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For those of you unfamiliar with the term, the word "grok" was coined by author Robert A. Heinlein for use by his character Valentine Michael Smith in his classic science fiction novel Stranger in a Strange Land.

The title comes from the fact that Mike is the only survivor of the first human expedition to Mars. When Earth gets around to putting together a rescue mission, some twenty years later, they find that Mike -- a child born out of wedlock between two of the original members of the exploration team -- has been raised by the Martians. The book then details Mike's "adventures" as he is brought back "home," explores human nature, and tries to bring the Martian philosophy to Earth.

In this book we find Mike using the term "grok" frequently. At first when he says "I grok" it appears to mean "I understand." But later, in response to a question, Mike declares that grok means "to drink" in a literal translation from the Martian. As his friends discuss the term further they determine that the exact meaning is hard to pin down because in Martian it tends to imply everything that humans mean when they refer to religion, philosophy, and science.

So the phrase "may you always grok in fullness" is intended to convey your hope that someone will not jump to conclusions, will not immediately pass judgment, will not act without thought; but instead will look at every problem, opportunity, and action from any and all perspectives. It is asking that the recipient try to understand a situation so thoroughly that they effectively become one with it -- that they can see all of the other points of view from all of the other perspectives. Then, once this "understanding" has been attained -- once the observer has become part of the observed and understands its perspective -- then they can act in full confidence that they will do the best and the right thing.

As I stated on my personal page, this is my all-time favorite book in any and all genres that I have ever read. I think it would make a great movie and anxiously look forward to finding any information that might point to the possibility. If done right (a big IF in my estimation), it has the possibility of saying some interesting and useful things about religion, politics, sex, and many other topics. It's a dream at the moment but I would dearly love to have some input into how such a movie would be written, directed, and produced.

I know that I am not the only one out here that enjoys the book this much. So, here are some other links to a variety of related sites.

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