Saturday, July 2, 2011


Of all the old traditions that have slipped away due to email, text, instant message, plus the changes in society where there are no societal penalties for lying; the one thing I most miss is conversation.

I do not see people sitting and talking, with or without alcohol. Just plain conversing, sharing ideas, opinions, and perspectives on the world. The young in bars seem to NED loud music so that talk is hard and barest communications must be shouted... Houses lack front porch to sit and observe the passing parade... Living rooms are dominated by flickering b lights and sound systems, combined which cost more than the vehicle in the driveway... A visit to the home of a friend is often done with the TV going. I'm old. I cannot focus my complete attention on two things at a time. I give my priority to the person, live, and present.

Funny thing is, when I mute the TV or turn it off, the person stops talking. They seem to feel they are interfering somehow... yet, what they do not -get- is that I value their presence and words more than the babbling heads or silly drama/comedies that are selling me products.

I am presently reading "Robert Frost The Poet as Philosopher" by Peter Stanlis.

Robert Frost felt he could not be a true poet until he found his conversational voice. He paid attention to what people say, how they said it and what they meant. English is a growing, broad and inclusive language. We have many words. we can use them in a wide variety of ways

Prosody is a very interesting are for me. Being a Southerner, I have been aware of the way people speak my whole life. The rhythms, spacing, phrases chosen can be almost musical. Some people have a wondrous melody in their language. Others can say the same words and it sounds like metal being hit with a hammer. Words are not the sole conveyors of meaning. Prosody tells much more to the listener.

Songs are good examples of conversation in melody. Nobody would compliment Bob Dylan solely on his voice. His words, phrasing and voice complete the story and make it memorable and him entertaining. I have long loved the cello and violin for their resemblance to the human voice. They can convey such a range of warm emotions and feelings...

The songs of older generations had a phrasing that reflected rhythms of walking, rocking or movement. The newer music sounds, to me, as tho the person does not exercise. The music is short, choppy, and the voice conveys momentary passions. I do not hear the thought behind the feelings, just the emotion. Is it me- or- ?

I have had a few conversations with friends, strangers and relatives that resonate through the years. I don't remember so much what I said, but what I learned. We shared conversations that lasted an hour or two or all through the evening. I must have contributed something of value for them to stay and educate me.

I've wondered about the great leap in human evolution when we went from hunter-gatherer to farmer-herder... Some books on paleo-anthropology think that we grew a larger brain to handle to larger society and political inter-play that came with all the changes. I'm not sure that is the complete answer.

Supposedly we needed a larger language to convey messages between more people. We needed to band together for protection and to share crops, surplus, winter supplies and seeds for the coming year. We neded warriors to protect us, leaders to lead the warriors, taxes to pay for people who fight and train, and writing to note who has payed and who owes their taxes, plots of land, how many animals etc. All of which seems logical and probibly true.

I have read others who say that as hunter bands we used sounds more sparingly and specifically. That we needed to communicate across distance but could not use a human voice as it would frighten the prey. Some writers see us dancing to share our tales of the hunt. Where we went, what we encountered and how we overcame it... all of that seems also true... Mostly, we taked. With words, melodious sounds, music we spent a great amount of time learning from one another and learning about one another.

Now, we have the electronic medium that allows strangers to communicate, share/buy/sell music, spout any idea we wish, say any foolishness and spread any lies we wish... We have no way of identifying the speaker. we have no way of confirming their knowledge, wisdom, experience as actual, real and not fantasy. Children are wonders at mimicking their parents and other adults... how do we know if we speak/listen with an adult or precocious child-?

for me, it's time. Children have a short attention span and cannot hold their interest for long. I also use big words and look for them in return. English has approximately 100,000 words. On average we use less than 5,000 in our daily conduct. All those left over words just lie there, waiting. Why so many-? specific words for specific feelings, meanings, items-? adoptions and adaptations of other languages that have blended in. Examples would be Boutique, Boondocks and you can supply your own...But when those words are used we know specifically what they mean... we also know the way they sound and the song we are composing as we form the next sentence.

Learning is something we do without even being aware. We find meaning in several levels with each sentence we say or hear. What was meant-? What was not meant-? Why -those- words-? did the word jangle with the rest of the sentence-? Yes, we are more complex than we thought... and more simple... After all, we're human. what -exactly- that means is something we are each defining as we go ahead with the business of living.

Now that I read for my personal pleasure I take time to read all the words and consider what the author meant. I am not fighting a clock to find nuggets of information that I can shape into bullets for my next encounter across the boardroom table o large desk.

Poetry has more meaning now. So should blog. I fear that blogs like poetry has more creators than consumers.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011


I wish that Paul Eckman had been more successful. Perhaps he was. But Heisenberg struck again. Humans being adaptable we have only gotten better at presenting the false as the true.

Finding truth is hard. Truth is time dated. Truth is often situational and based on the perspective of the observer. Truth is mostly something we avoid. We accept words from others as true. We don't examine our own words, motives and beliefs. We swear that we are speaking the truth. Yet, we're not sure that it is anything more that the "at this time" truth.

I have met people who lie as a test of my integrity, memory, and honesty. I have met those who lie simply because it is convenient and short. They see the truth as something that will require a long story, possibly revealing details about themselves or their loved ones best kept private.

When I meet a new person, I almost never inquire too deeply. Why ask for something uncomfortable to be revealed or force a lie-? Let each person sing their own song. If it's pretty, pleasing and accepted then that is all required for social chat.

Words say only 10% of our meaning. Or so I read long ago from an author I cannot remember. Most communication is done by body language. Some say that body language is 60-70% of our communication. Inflection, intonation and phrasing make up the remaining 20-30% of meaning. My Mother-in-Law was a master at speaking in an insulting tone then reverting to pained defense when repeating her words. Hard woman to be around. Luckily she made it clear she disliked me from the start. I tried to be social, polite and agreeable. I was there because of my wife and later the grand children. It's easy to be around people who dislike you and you know it. There is no wondering what you have done wrong, this time or at any time. She was an enigma. I have yet to meet anyone who felt they knew her.

The tale about the Garden of Eden is a lesson that too few actually spend much time considering. It is the first time (earliest-?) we have a tale about nakedness (and idea that something is wrong with seeing one another uncovered), lying and punishment.

I have wondered about that tale often. Some think it harkens back to a time before we began farming and herding for most of our diet. The tales of Cain and Abel are of a hunter and a farmer, murder and again a lie. What puzzles me is the Tree.

Specifically, "The Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil"

Why the "Knowledge of Good and Evil"-? Why Both-?

Spending time around animals, dogs mostly these day. But around horses, cows and chickens as a child, I find no memory of an animal knowing either good or evil... Why-? Animals understand right and wrong. They learn behavior. They know what -we- their leaders demand and expect. We humans also know what our leaders expect, demand, coerce. If we don't we soon find out.

Hitler, Mao, Stalin, Pol Pot, Saddam, and unnamed butchers around the world slaughter and slay humans using the efforts of other humans. Are they speaking any objective truth to convince their accomplices-? Do they simply lie and manipulate their desires to please, do good, help, improve, share the burden of leadership, etc. to convince others that slaughtering the innocents is a good thing-?

Where is "Good" and where is "Evil"-? Most will not see -real- good in their life. There are acts of kindness. But finding, observing, doing a real act of sacrifice for another is beyond them. We also refuse to recognize "evil" in an act and most particularly when it is laying latent, resting, within another. We listen to smooth blandishments and accept them as something true that explains to our naive ears/eyes what we thought we perceived was wrong.

We have had peace for a long period of human history. Europe has not had such a long period with neither wars between nations or bands of roving brigands seizing territory and conquering tribes to claim status as a nation, in a very long time.

Does this mean that Evil is vanquished-? That Good prevails around the world and that only confusion exists today-?

I wish I could accept that. Unfortunately, I have too much background, too much reading, too many associations with warriors to see the world as safe and peaceful.

So back to the original thought; What is "Truth"-? And why do we think we live in it-?

Life is precious. It is easy to kill and ruin life. It is hard to bring it into being, to nurture and protect it, and to educate tthe next generation that bad things happen to good people far too often while good things happen to bad people more often than we wish. How do we teach our children to know Truth from Lie and Good from Evil-?

What was really in that fruit-? Did we eat enough or just enough to grow foolish and believe we can aspire to meet a diety as an equal-?

As I age, I get more questions and find fewer answers... When I was young, I had many more answers and fewer questions.

AS I age, and as I listen-watch-observe, those would be our masters perform; I wonder if it is more dangerous to speak the truth or to simply ignore, cover it or spin it (a polite way of lying)... Which breeds more monsters-? Which feeds their analysis of the speaker/leader's strength and weakness-?

The chattering class who leap in and tell us how to think about what we just heard seem mindless, credentialed-but-ignorant, people who have never walked down a street they did not belong alone and unarmed.