Saturday, May 12, 2007

The Holographic Discourse

Pretty Lady does too have female friends!

It is something, probably, about the sheer fun of an inherently non-competative artist to communicate with.

This is exactly it, dear Boysmom, and Pretty Lady cannot understand why so many people cannot conceive of this particular notion of Fun. For it seems as though the very notion of Conversation as Fun and Art is unknown to most individuals in Modern Society.

Pretty Lady, of course, blames television. This has been her view ever since the day she endured an interminable brunch with a person who subjected her to serial re-enactments of daytime sci-fi TV shows from the seventies, and punctuated her performance with the extraordinary statement, "But why don't YOU contribute to the conversation?"


Pretty Lady fears it is time to get back to the basics.
1) A conversation is not a performance, a monologue, or even an equal-time monologue swap.

2) Neither is a conversation a debate. Conversations do not have Winners and Losers. In fact, the essence of conversation is Win-Win, no matter how banal that phrase has become.

3) Neither is a conversation a mutual commiseration, whine- and blame-fest, with the conversees united in their disgust with the vile Powers that Be.

None of this will seem strange to Pretty Lady's friends, of course, but the sad fact is that Pretty Lady's friends are a rare and elite set of people, much as she strives for Universal Popularity. Because when these three verbal-interaction options are removed from the table, the overwhelming majority of Modern Folk seem to have nothing whatsoever to say.

In fact, most of them blow a mental gasket when Pretty Lady attempts a genuine conversation. Practioners of Non-Conversation Technique #1 are practically impossible to derail. They continue spouting inane jokes with an increasingly desperate gleam in their eye, and when Pretty Lady presents them with a direct question of a personal nature, such as "How have you been?" they issue some sort of meaningless wisecrack and scuttle away. It never, never, never occurs to these people to ask how Pretty Lady has been; she assumes that the subject of personal well-being terrifies them into complete mental paralysis. Such are the tragic results of being left at home during all of childhood with only a television for company.

Aficionados of Non-Conversation Technique #2 are mildly more interesting, but their company is ultimately brutal and nonconstructive. They are continually attempting to construct 'positions,' even entire 'identities,' not only for themselves, but for anyone else they find themselves exchanging words with. Their aim is to force their fellows into untenable 'positions' and inferior 'identities,' in order to demonstrate the untenability and inferiority of same, and thus establish themselves as both stable and superior.

Which is most tedious.

Pretty Lady needs not elaborate upon her feelings toward practitioners of NCT #3, as her views on Whining are extremely well-known, except to state that whenever she has confronted a career Whiner with their basic insupportability as a companion, said Whiner has been utterly, physically incapable of comprehending her statement. These people simply equate ritualistic complaint with Intimate Connection, and have never imagined anything else beyond it.

So, then, what IS beyond it?

Darlings, darlings all, EVERYTHING. Everything is beyond these three things; these NCTs are the prime obstacles to all the joy in the universe!

A genuine conversation is like a painting, a dance, and a hike up to the castle on the hill, all at the same time. It probes, it explores, it builds, it wanders. It experiments, tests, accepts, rejects. It speculates; it imagines; it reveals. It uncovers infinite reasons for allowing peace into one's soul. It is formed thusly by the meeting of minds which are both unique and perfect, it is the harmonious interference pattern which creates the hologram of the Universe.

One engages in such a joyful activity by 1) asking questions; 2) listening to the responses; 3) propounding notions; 4) allowing the other person to add, subtract, multiply or divide these notions as they see fit, depending upon their unique perspectives and experience. It is vital that no party be fixated on a particular outcome, i.e. convincing the other person of the rightness and unassailability of his or her position.

It is, of course, possible to arrive at desirable outcomes, such as solutions to problems, inner harmony, and Integrated Theories of Everything, via this process. The only requirements are that all parties involved be fully present, fully truthful, and fully willing to pay attention.


BoysMom said...

I shall support you in the blaming of television simply because I grew up in a home without television.

Conversation was (and therefore is, family traditions, you know) the staple of the dinner table.
Perhaps the demise of the family meal has also contributed to the downfall of conversation.

Pretty Lady said...

Indeed! The Family Dinner was and is the central, crowning facet of Pretty Lady's home life, as well. Complete with excellent yet inexpensive home-cooked (and occasionally home-grown) fare, and candles.

Hmmm...Pretty Lady feels yet another post coming on...

BoysMom said...

Candles, flowers from the garden or a blooming houseplant if available, cloth napkins and placemats or tablecloth, and always, ALWAYS, the fine china and silverware.

Chris Rywalt said...

I hate cloth napkins. They're always part polyester and they don't absorb anything. Even in the best restaurants, I feel like I'm wiping my face with plastic wrap.

My wife keeps trying to get us to use placemats, but they get so disasterized so quickly we'd have to wash them every day. Big pain in the butt.

Anonymous said...

"The only requirements are that all parties involved be fully present, fully truthful, and fully willing to pay attention."

That's it in a nutshell. Ann and I always know when the other is not 'present'. And though we don't always have to have those 'deep and meaningfuls' as she likes to call some of our extra long conversations, nevertheless we enjoy each others company the best when we do. The best intimacy in a friendship comes from that honesty with each other.

Pretty Lady said...

Chris--polyester is not a substance fit for utilization by humans. Cloth napkins are made of cotton. Any other sort of cloth should be sent back to the factory and smelted into, I don't know, paperweights or something.

k said...



I just had a wonderfully apt example of a #2 in a comment thread (elsewhere, of course).

[and a #2 it was, too.]

I sighed. I considered not answering the final little backstab. seemed the thing to do, as a sort of completion, and so I did. Then I took my ball and went home.

And the whole exercise was such a boring waste. It wasted my time. It wasted my Nice Fun Talkies. It wasted a perfectly good opportunity to explore some interesting points on bricklaying and patio building.

What for? Why in the world did a person feel this overpowering need to smack everyone else down? Why substitute a moment of schoolyard bully's thrill for what could have been some really satisfying interchange, a good blog comment conversation?

This person voluntarily gave up a great meal for some cold rubbery leftover McDonald's. Not just voluntarily. Purposely. WILLFULLY.

What passes for fun to some is truly pitiful.

Chris Rywalt said...

PL sez:
Chris--polyester is not a substance fit for utilization by humans.


But, as my executive chef friend pointed out to me, it's almost impossible to get the food stains out of cotton napkins. Which is why even really high-class restaurants still use poly blends.

Desert Cat said...

I'm still trying to figure out what to make of this. PL posts on the holographic nature of good conversation, and Chris latches on to a comment about cloth napkins.

Anonymous said...

I don't like cloth napkins because they don't absorb stuff, they're too stiff and too rough to wipe your mouth with. I know it's a bit tacky, but I like to use paper towels.

Anonymous said...

I think one of the biggest obstacles to conversation is the need to be right, and its corollary, the need to prove other people wrong. And not just wrong, but evil.


k said...

papapete, thank you. That's exactly what happened with that conversational comment thread.

And it wasn't even one where you usually see that behavior, not a political or religious type post. Not at all.

And isn't it telling, how that need to prove the other guy both wrong and evil infuses our other interactions too? It goes from conversation to love to politics to war...

Chris Rywalt said...

DC sez:
PL posts on the holographic nature of good conversation, and Chris latches on to a comment about cloth napkins.

I'm making conversation.

Really what it's about is I can't not respond, even if I have nothing to say about the original post. I just wait and wait until I find something I can reply to, no matter how far off topic. Because I'm a raving egotist.

Anonymous said...

I don't like cloth napkins because they don't absorb stuff - Anon.

It's because they are likely polyester / cotton blends, not cotton or linen.

Anonymous said...

As to The Topic...

Whatchoo talkin' 'bout, Willis?

(waves red poly/cotton napkin furiously)

Anonymous said...

Re: The Topic

For 27 years, I have augmented my income by selling fannish goodies at Science Fiction (and now, Anime) conventions, and learned early on of the paucity of Real Conversation. It became increasingly tiresome to hear the SAME anecdotes about the SAME authors or stars, hearing the SAME "Do you remember when Dr. Smith...or Luke Skywalker...or That Guy, You Know Who...did that in the movie, TV show, or graphic novel." Especially wearisome is having the SAME Aspie (I have a son with Aspergers, so I can say that. It's OUR word.) the SAME Aspie come up and "fix" the SAME wording on the SAME t-shirt for the tenth con in a row. (Never mind it's part of his syndrome. It's annoying. That, too, is part of his syndrome.)

Television: Fun. Also evil, wrong, and a vampiric drain on interpersonal culture.

Thank God for blogging.


Anonymous said...

Somehow I think that human nature is as much to blame as television.

I suspect that as young children, we all start from the premise that the purpose of language is to tell other people what to do for us. As we get older, we decide that it's also for talking about ourselves, and then for telling other people how they should think (like we do).

I do agree that television reinforces these early premises. I suspect that good conversation makes for bad TV. There is not enough emontional conflict in a good conversation to engage a passive viewer.

Because TV is a passive medium, we need the emotions on the screen to be pretty hopped up before they engage us. Thus the soap opera, where every character has a short fuse and does the dumbest thing imaginable in every circumstance. Nothing else will keep viewers involved.

A good conversation is more interesting to listen to in person; and it's only really fun if you jump in there and participate.

But how to even learn those skills, if you don't have anyone to teach them, or anyone to practice with?

Well, onward and upward. Maybe someday Conversation will be a chapter in every high school's Life Skills class, along with Conflict Resolution, The Joy of Respectful Relationships, Managing Credit, and How Not to Get Fired.

And, of course, remedial classes in Community College for all of us who paid no attention the first time round... :-)


Desert Cat said...

Because I'm a raving egotist.

And self-aware too. Good good!
**big grin**