Thursday 21 August 2008

The Duplicities of Speech and Speaker

What a dilemma. Here I have the opportunity to communicate ideas to you. Yet barriers abound. Communication among humans is so much less effective than we seem to acknowledge.

The ideas in my head must be translated into words and sentences. The reader must translate that text back into ideas. How much goes astray with each translation? Each word is treacherous enough with all the wiggle room the English language provides. But string a few together and the opportunities to misconstrue grow mightily.

Communication in our societies must be succinct or else the audience has no time for it. We don’t break each idea down into each of its components and all of their subcomponents and so on. The effective transmission of ideas demands that we already possess the shared dogma which we then use as evidence to tackle greater ideas so as to propose greater dogma. And we behave as if this is happening though I observe that in reality it is not done with legitimacy.

If I say the girl had eyes the colour of the sky you might assume she is a comely girl. If a Martian reads the same sentence he might assume she was drunk or sleepless - because the sky on Mars (for now) is red of course. All language relies on common experience.

But we don’t have to live on separate planets to miscommunicate. Every human is unique, with unique perspectives of each of our living experiences, shared or otherwise. We all operate with individual dogma (usually deeply flawed, I suggest) but we speak and write as if we all shared the same. And I’m not talking about dogma in terms of religion specifically (in case you’ve already misconstrued), but in its most general sense; meaning any idea assumed to be true without breaking it down into all of its components; with the assumption that all of such components have been earlier verified and agreed upon by all persons in the present circle of communication.

Not only is there an absence of structures dedicated to the tracking of universally accepted dogma, but I’m convinced that few people even actively participate in their forming of personal dogma. I never did, in a sustained conscious way for the first thirty-seven years or so of my life. It is only now, having lost interest in the mainstream influences of my society, that I’ve come to take an active interest in such minutiae.

Another barrier to effective communication – which I’m forced to deal with immediately – is the reality that ideas connect together in pyramidal and circular relationships – while speech or written text is forced to be linear.

So we have conversations and debate which accomplish little. A typical exchange often seems more or less a scant integration of two separate internal conversations where little is accomplished in bringing the parties into closer understanding. But in a society so aptly termed the rat race, what else can we do? We don’t spend hours discussing the colour of a girl’s eyes. Our priorities dictate otherwise. We have scholastic courses to complete and clients to satisfy and promotions to win and shiny new things to buy – or whatever it is we think we have to do to impress those in our chosen crowd - and quickly so. The competition is fierce.

The other barrier to assembly of properly shared dogma is that strange human idea of belief – the arbitrary subscription to someone else’s ideas, unsubstantiated by ones self. We can’t bear to navigate our lives with insistence on a clean internal database of knowledge where all ideas are loyally divided into truth, fiction and testimony according to our legitimate personal experience. We would deem this too laborious. If we did do this, testimony would carry the biggest load at any given moment. In practice it’s typically the smallest. After all, artificial intellectual currency is the name of the game. Just sounding like you know what you’re talking about buys all kinds of respect. It bolsters your all-important reputation. And it doesn’t take much faking it before you’ve faked-out even yourself.

I don’t hear many conversations where everyone’s saying, “Perhaps it’s like this? Could it be like this? Do you think it’s like this? I’ve heard testimony that it’s like this.” I just keep hearing people say, “It’s like this and like this and like this and like this! So there!” And they usually sound suspiciously like they’re only reiterating something they’ve heard someone else say, without really consolidating for themselves or, often, even understanding it.

I suggest to you that we live in a society where there is no requirement for truth; not even regard for it or even reward for it. Not within our societal scheme so utterly dominated by so few and so powerful pervading structures: The education system, politics, religion, the workplace, media, pop culture and the family tradition. These structures don’t demand truth. They only demand participation in accordance with the rules of the game. But this is a subject for another time. I’m not declaring any of these structures good or bad, by the way. They are what they are. They have their various uses and flaws and their particular susceptibilities to corruption. I don’t even believe in the concepts of good or bad except perhaps within specified contexts, nor do I believe in belief, by the way! I’ve learned to live with a brain full of testimony and found much personal reward in doing so. Even testimony can be divided into useful and not useful until it eventually clears through the backlog and becomes clear as truth or fiction.

There is certainly a natural reward for participation in truth though; a natural sort of court of justice in which we all participate though almost universally without being aware of it. It’s one of many realities of our existence that we’re blinded to, by the confining world of those above-named societal structures which you’ll hear me refer to, collectively, as the matrix in essays to come, that is if you good folk can bear my ramblings and Crushed keeps me on! But these too are complex sets of ideas for another time.

Now that I’ve spent too many words introducing this article and disclaiming it, I sense there will be little remaining of the attention spans of those still with me this far! So let me call this an essay on communication and truth and close with this:

In a world where people dare to cop out with such absurd ideas as personal truth, I urge you to consider that there is indeed such a thing as straight-forward unvarnished truth. It is simply reality. Whether human beings had ever existed or not, there would always exist a genuine reality; the authentic states of the universe and its components.

But as humans do exist and have created ‘lives’ artificially complicated, interacting with so many ideas, some tangible, some mystical, and without fully exploring them for themselves, and fearing inside that reality is so much more complicated than it really is, and trying to hide their confusion and let on that they know what’s going on – let me insist on something. It is possible to live far more peaceful and truthful lives than you’re prepared to believe. The evidence that you absorb with your own five senses, day after day, minute by minute, carries a massive wealth of reliable evidence which, if assembled with integrity and courage and a divestment of reliance on the matrix, bears tremendous assets with which to solve the apparent problems in your life.

This earth is not apart from the ‘great universe.’ It is part of it and an excellent part because it bears a wealthy accessible sampling of the core components of the (albeit, known) universe. Okay, no nebulas or black holes but a marvelous selection of minerals and life forms and living behavior! Much of this past evidence, largely untapped, still resides in your memories and my earnest proposal is this: If one wishes to interact with more truth in their life and reap the rewards from such, one may leave the difficult mystical ideas aside for a time being, and start by building the most reliable truths first; the kind one can verify with the product of their own senses; one’s undeniable valid living experience. And once that is truly exhausted, one can then see what questions or what mysteries remain, and if any do, only then look back to the mystical if one chooses.

But what if all your untapped data were to be unearthed and it all came together, appearing to explain everything? What if it were to validate the claims of sciences and religions harmoniously and explain the great variances of human behavior and the inevitability of it and make impotent all the causes of your previous confusion, frustration, intolerance and rage? What if it brought about an evolution in you that greatly disempowered the greed and lust and pride within you and made you master of those forces instead of the other way around? What if it brought about the manifestation of previously unimagined states of joy and peace and freedom!

It would be bold testimony to claim this not only possible but well within the grasp of any thinking person and you probably wouldn’t believe it. Nor should you. No, you shouldn’t place this in the truth file of your personal knowledge database. But you should place it in your testimony file. In fact, I urge you to. For such a claim, grand as it is, I do sincerely make.

People asking questions; lost in confusion. Well I tell them there's no problem; only solutions. - John Lennon

When thy intelligence shall cross beyond the whirl of delusion, then shalt thou become indifferent to scripture heard or that which thou hast yet to hear. – Bhagavad Gita 2:52

It's either real or it's a dream. There's nothing that is in-between. - E.L.O.

Speaking the truth in times of universal deceit is a revolutionary act. – George Orwell

Truth is God. – Mahatma Ghandi


Anonymous said...

Whatever the deficiencies in language it is the nearest thing we have to telepathy. I find the written word is the best way to see the world through another's eyes.

Anonymous said...

It's the Orwellian thing, again. Orwell didn't object to changes in language, or the evolution of language. What he forsaw, what he fretted, was that language would become meaningless.

A sound-byte culture operates almost identically to Newspeak. If I wanted to express displeasure with Big Brother, for example, I can only say that he is double-plus non-good. Yet I would lack the ability (because of the lack of language) to explain why, or to persuade people otherwise.

Likewise, in a sound-byte culture, we can make statements. Yet either we, or the listener/reader, lack the time to explain why. So we develop buzzwords, shorthands, etc.

We also begin to rely on Dogma, because that's a self-encrypted system of meaning.

Anonymous said...

A Matrix, yes, well, everything is kind of a matrix. even our own thought processes are a matrix, an evolved structure. Human society is a matrix too, a matrix consisiting of us all pressing eachothers buttons.

I have often thought, taking Orwell's thoughts on language further that it is no coincidence that English became the lingua Franca.

Having the English language as the mode of thought, was possibly one thingt that led to to the poltical and scientific advances that made the speakers of English at one time, global leaders. Greater nuance of thought is possible for someone who thinks in English.

But is language a barrier to conceptualisition? Sometimes, yes.

Sometimes there are cincepts which no matter how much language is used, merely being able to use the language to explain these things, doesn't actually mean conceptual understanding. This is most notable in science. Generally speaking, the logical implications of most scientific theories aren't appreciated at the time of their propounding, possibly because even the propounders understand them more in linguistic than conceptual terms.

For example, I think many people convince themselves linguistically that they understand a universe that is limitless but finite.

But I'm not actually sure they really conceptualise it.

And seeing economic arguments which just refuse to understand the simple point that you cannot maintain perpetual 'growth' in a finite world is another case.

Anonymous said...

some great blog posts but they are ssooo long :-(

Anonymous said...

Hmmmm... I don't think knowledge can change hearts. it's love that does that.

We have so much knowledge now, but we're not much better off than in the past, except that we find better ways of fighting our wars
(and yet, we've never left the old way, of violencce).

Kev is right; to see how someone really thinks, it's good to see how they write. I express my thoughts better in writing than words, 'cos they dun have to be filtered through the barriers of my inadequacies (guess it's cos you CAN hide behind a screen).

I like the John Lennon quote :-)

And you've got a very good point about not running around chasing after hidden knowledge; we don't know everything, but we do know enough to go on by :-)