Friday 28 March 2008

Platonic Sentiment- Communicating

We are a special species. Of that there is no doubt.

And there are so many reasons that make that so.
Of course it's what we have done and how we live.

But's it what makes us that, it's those special skills we have, that raise us to that level.

And the main one, is what we are doing now.

We are no ordinary ape. Is this our equivalent of picking fleas? Maybe. But what an equivalent it is!

Our fellow apes do seem to have fairly rudimentary languages, that is to say, tribes of apes have their own signalling systems. Studies even suggest they understand lieing.
Somewhat depressing, I guess. We learned to lie before we learned to talk.

But it is language and the ability to co-operate that have made us what we are, and what we are going to be. The last two hundred years have seen an amazing communication revolution.

We share our deepest thoughts with other living beings, they can be stored after we die. That, really is an amazing concept.
And really, it is what makes humanity.

I often think that one of the crucial factors in the victory of the Anglosphere over the Francosphere, one of the factors that ensured the British Empire dominated the globe, and not the French, which after all, is what ensured that the global Lingua Franca is English, is perfectly simple.

You can think more in English. You can communicate thoughts better in it. There are five times as many words in English, as in French. It has more words than any other language in the world.

Words are the building blocks of sentences, sentences create concepts.
An English thinker can comprehend and communicate in a way a French thinker cannot.

Perhaps ultimately, it is why a little island in the Atlantic became the crucible of thought, political innovation, and scientific advance that it did.

In linguistic terms, survival of the fittest, is on the side of the English Language. It may not be a beautiful language, or a melodic language, but it does best what languages are supposed to do.

And it continues to grow.

Orwell saw that. One of the key points of 1984, is the creation of Newspeak, a language so limited in vocabulary, that concepts alien to INGSOC, can no longer be comprehended by someone who can only speak Newspeak.

It is nuance, shades of meaning, the fact that French can only give us 'Je suis fatiguee', whereas we can be tired, fatigued, worn out and so much more. They all fulfill that one term in French, but for us, there is variation in the meaning.

Perhaps this is why other European nations traditionally saw the English as unemotional. We never needed to wave our arms or pull facial expressions to convey exactly what we meant. The subtleties of our language do that anyway.

But communication is not just a tool. It has evolved into something more. We are compulsive communicators.

Most carnivorous species, for example, have a series of ingrained instincts, which are related to hunting. This is because hunting is an arduous process, unlike eating fruit. The antelope doesn't hang on a tree.
So evolution creates a series of urges; first the urge to hunt, then the urge to kill, then the urge to eat.

We have those of course. It's why we always prefer to commute to work, rather than work from home. We like to feel we've gone out to hunt. We leave our caves and go out on to the savannah, spear in hand.

But in humans, communication too, has become an instinct. We NEED to do it. And finding satisfaction in communicating with others, has become a powerful driving urge.
Evolution favours the better communicators, it has favoured those who mastered language.
And so we have within us, an ingrained urge to communicate, to share thoughts. It keeps us primed, but also, it rewards us inside, perhaps as deeply as eating.

And this, I think is the root of Platonic sentiment.

I think any Love worthy of the name, is Platonic at it's base. If it's based purely on desire, we have no hesitation in calling it what it is, Lust.

But Love, of the real kind is based on a deep intertwining, based on communication.
We love those we communicate best with.
And this, I think, what was what I was hinting at in my post on Internet Emotions.

The communicative power it gives us, stirs strong platonic sentiment. But by definition, the lust aspect is a delusion.
But Platonic Love IS love, because no Romantic Love, could exist without it.

I don't mind saying I love my friends. I would burst into tears if The Baker or The Chimney Sweep died tomorrow. What makes these friendships? The fact that communication between us, is effortless. There are no barriers. Conversations can go on for years. We have our own in jokes, our own sayings, etc.
For example, if the Chimney Sweep is wittering, as he is prone to do, simply saying 'Did you find the mushrooms in the end?', will shut him up, or at least make him pause.
No one else will ever understand, except us three.

It's that sense of total ease and comfort in the company of another, based on the fact that the communication between you, is perfect.
And, free of any deceit, free of any omission.

You feel you can see into eachothers minds.

I think, really, that's Love. And we feel that sentiment to our friends, our loved ones, and those lovers worthy of the name.

And I think that's partly why we get so hooked on this medium. I think we do emote strongly, because we are PURELY communicating. There is nothing else to see, but the mind. And isn't one of our deepest desires to be able to say 'This how I REALLY think, this is how I REALLY feel, do you get me?', and find other minds say 'Yes, Yes.'

Because I don't think really, love has anything to do with desire.

I don't think that when we really love someone, it's the sex that is the rewarding bit. It's more coincident than anything else. And this is why I believe Love and Sex aren't necessarily intertwined, that we as a species cheat ourselves, devalue both by cementing them, ultimately losing out.

We all want passion, I guess, it's an urge.

But Love?

Isn't what we really want just to hold someone close and just tell them everything in our heads, whilst they stroke our cheek?
And then ask them 'Do you get me?'

And hear them whisper 'Yes', as they plant their lips on our foreheads, before we snuggle up next to them and go to sleep in their arms?

Isn't that REALLY what we want?

And if you have that with someone, what else can possibly matter?


Anonymous said...

> Isn't what we really want just to hold someone close and just tell them everything in our heads, whilst they stroke our cheek?
And then ask them 'Do you get me?'
And hear them whisper 'Yes', as they plant their lips on our foreheads, before we snuggle up next to them and go to sleep in their arms?
I think you're right. Yes.

Anonymous said...

Hey can I please jump in and ask quickly some serious advice? An answer chez moi much appreciated if you can give I dunno what to do ... lots of stuff I could just cart the entire lot downstairs but would that be wise?...

Re my place:~ I'm getting a new room in the same house:~ Lots of clutter.

Do you agree I should just leave what I don't want even if it's half my clothes etc. and just move "lite" into the new room?...

Please RSVP ASAP at my gledwood2.blogspot blog:~ I'm desperate for advice! Many thanxx

Anonymous said...

All we really want in life is for someone to understand us and love us despite of it.

Communication is key, in everything in every way.

Anonymous said...

Eve- I think so. I think it's basically what we all want. Total unconditional understanding and acceptance, a feeling that in releasing ourselves we have nothing to fear. We are safe in so doing.

Gledwood- Well, the main reason I don't plan to move for a long time, is the amount of stuff I have. Last time I did, I got a mate who has a bathroom business. I told him I would be a couple of van trips.

Tiny understatement...

I'm a hoarder, so if it was me, no. It's always nice to know you have stuff you'll probably never use, but might.

Oestrebunny- Yes. Couldn't have put it better.
And we shouldn't settle for less.

It's not easy to find, but deep down it's the deepest desire of our hearts I think.

Anonymous said...

Hmn yes, good post. But there is fear and deceit and humiliation and lies. The person sayng 'yes' often has an agenda - it's amazing how interested a man gets in all kinds of stuff, even the analysis of a relationship with another guy, simply because he is waiting for the chance to slake his lust. A man will be a womans new best friend and communicate deep thoughts about all kinds of crap for weeks, months, sometimes years, in an effort to get in her pants. And when a woman meets someone she likes and 'gets' then apart from the usual restrictions on wanting to 'say the right thing' and 'not look stupid' and amuse and impress etc. she also has accumulated a number of fears now, based on jerks who lied.

I'm amazed I communicate at all.

Anonymous said...

As a linguist, I have to say that English is actually poorer in lexis than many other European languages: for every phrasal verb we have, French, Italian, Spanish have different words completely. And it is just easier, for most people, to communicate in their mother tongue. It is just an accident of history that English is the language of technology.
I do tend to agree with you on platonic love.

Anonymous said...

what an interesting post, i shall have to come back and read more , even though its all common sense one would think.

Anonymous said...

I know this is off topic but I saw you added me to your links list and I in turn added you to mine. You will find yourself in the "electrify your mind" section of the links list

Anonymous said...

Philipa- That's quite a sad comment.

I don't think that's always true, actually. I think we men feel an essential part of male-female relations is our bringing the female party under our protection, it's instinct. That's why I think, what we want to know, and what we want to tell, differ.
We want to know how the woman we live ticks, so we can best protect her, best look after her. We tell her what she neds to know to SUPPORT us. There's a slight difference I think, because we are after support in whatever life we have chosen, we don't aske to be protected.

But in many ways, your comment applies both ways. Men get used too, you know.

Welshcakes- It is quite a functional language though, especially in explaining concepts.

For technology, I think, certainly using translate functions to read Science articles on the internet, one is struck by how primitive the artcles read when translated, a much more limited technical vocabulary.

Platonic Love is the key, I think. It's a shame we don't value it high enough.

Nunyaa- If common sense ruled the world, it would be a very different place.

Static Brain- It's always good to come across new blogs, I think I found yours whilst looking for images for posts.
Peace to you too :)

Anonymous said...

Platonic Love is the key, I think. It's a shame we don't value it high enough.

I believe unconditional love is the key. If you can give and receive that you have everything!

Anonymous said...

Interesting post Crushed. I agree with you about English having more subtleties than many other languages. In Italian being the only other language I have studied really well, when I would ask how do you translate phrase X, the answer was phrase Y, how do you translate phrase Z the answer again Y. But X and Z have subtle differences so how can you express that difference if both are translated as Y?

Mr Shakespeare is to be thanked for many, many of those extra words we have.

I think Platonic love is very difficult to maintain over a long period unless one or both are involved in other relationships. Sex tends to rear its head sooner or later.

Anonymous said...

Got to take issue with you on the language thing, Crushed- there is very little to suggest that language influences how people think. Steven Pinker brings forward the word Schaudenfreude as his example, saying that the typical reaction of English speakers is not "Eh? I don't get the concept" but "Cool! There's a word for it!"

Anonymous said...

Cherrypie- Platonic Love IS unconditional Love, I think.

It is eternal, it DOES last forever, I think. If you love someone platonically, you will ALWAYS love them.

jmb- I like some of our lost words, like Nocent, which appears in paradise lost. It doesn't quite mean the opposite of innocent, it means 'having knowledge of evil'.

Tolkien uses the word 'Melefit' in one of his essays, a word which logically should exist.

I don't know, my friendships with my male friends are unlikely ever to get sexual, I would say, and I wouldn't spoil my female friendships by making them sexual.

There sems to be a life rule for me, I get some amazing female friends, but when it comes to romance, nutjobs only need apply.

Ian- I love the word Schadenfreude, beautifully expressive. And such a great concept.
But what about Sinn Fein? Translating that is hard. 'We Ourselves' is close, but still not exact.

Anonymous said...

Cherrypie- Platonic Love IS unconditional Love, I think.

It can be... unconditional love means no conditions, you love the person no matter what, even if they do things you don't like.

I have seen platonic relationships where the friendship is based on conditions... and the friendship is marred if the conditions aren't met!