This post is going to be largely concerned with meta-communication, and as a natural consequence, I’ll start out with laying out the over-all statement that this is going to be meta. PErfect. So it’s meta-meta-communication now. It’s already an interesting start, let alone because I very well know that conversations in the non-virtual world doesn’t work like this. By now, I’m breaking several fundamental rules of interaction by, firstly, not including the reader or speaking as though this is a two-way communication, and secondly, starting out by explicitly laying out what my imaginary, eventually real, reader can expect from this particular entry, and by now, if I were in fact having a conversation with someone, my unfortunate conversation partner would most likely be stumbling on his feet in the effort to get out undamaged by too much explicitly stated meta congo.
Let’s, for example, just imagine this scenario: You’re walking into a bar and sitting down with some random strangers that caught your eye. They look you over, drawing their first impressions on you, judging you subjectively with their sharp, pointy stares. You’re aware of this and says: ”I’m greeting you. Now I want to find out why you’re staring at me like this, so that’s why I choose to start out. Would you like if I gave you a brief presentation of myself?”
Most likely, your potentially enthusiastic listeners would be gone. You wouldn’t make yourself heard and understood in a respectable manner. Simple.
Or rather, simple if you understand simplicity well enough not to make it too complex, needing to analyse your world and categorise it into a comprehensible system. Linguists break it down to pragmatics, the unconventional meaning of sentences depending solely on the context, and psychologists presumably investigate how the human psyche responds to certain conversations. It’s analysed from all points of view, and still, much like everything about human consciousness, the intuitively formed parameters that govern human interaction is probably one of the things that make least sense in this world in terms of dividing the specifics of it into an underlying, progressive system.
And here comes the really weird part: most people don’t really want to acknowledge that there might be an underlying, progressive system and would rather see everything involving interaction as being ”this sort of gut feeling you get about someone, you know, it’s kind of cool”.
Um, is it? Why is it almost a social taboo to have to read about how, for instance, conversation works, how the brain looks like in love, the scientific explanation of mutual attraction etc.? Although millions do in fact read books like that and express the curiosity that’s said to characterise humans, it lies in the subtext that unlike the mechanisms and concepts of math, history, geology etc., you can’t “learn” social skills. That’s basically saying that the most complex and inexplicable part of the human brain shouldn’t be investigated further, and that the recent structures and appropriate behaviour patterns of modern society, most definitely not present in the days of early hominids, are encoded in humanity.
It’s also a peculiar tendency that the books that really win popularity, although it’s still not said out loud, is the ones using a rhetoric that suggests they’re magical tools, e.g. “CHANGE YOUR LIFE IN TEN MINUTES”, “HOW TO INSTANTLY ATTRACT ANYONE”, and “ACHIEVE COMPLETE SELF INTERNAL BALANCE”. Um, I know that last one was weird, but seriously. It’s probably another, inherently irrational brain flaw; the same one that drives us to have faith, to gamble, and to create false memories, and to generally be really succebtible to certain stimuli. We strive for the mysterious, the excitement and the rush that comes with things we can’t explain oor figure out. It’s also part of what’s so fascinating about gambling and risk taking, it’s why we won’t be captains to destroy the romanticism of the sea, and it’s why we won’t theorise music and destroy the experience.
As an amateur singer song writer and an experimenter with electronic music and soundscapes, I’d say that music theory increased my understanding rather than limiting it.
Why wouldn’t the phenomenology, the collective experience, of listening to a piece of music be completely separated from its building blogs? I still get a major heart throb from listening to Beethoven’s 9th symphony 3rd movement, and knowing that it contains a TDT-progression in A major at 30 BPM makes it even more beautiful to me. Well, if not the where fact that it contains a certain chord progression, then at least wondering why I like it so much. So, why should knowing that falling in love increases dopamine in the brain, and knowing that we associate every form of stimuli with the person we experience it with, make me less likely to fall in love?
Plato stated that the underlying concepts of Math is already located in memory, and that the roll of the teacher was a guide to memorising the concepts. However, it didn’t prevent us from doing the math, and however easily you might figure out the system, you do much better with a guide; a textbook or a calculator. Similarly, our complex social codes might very well be a result of an accumulative adaptation process that forced us to create language to communicate more efficiently, but there’s no reason to suggest that it should be any different from math, that, after all, also is a language based system. I think that everything can and should be analysed, and analysing conversations doesn’t take away the feeling of connection with another human being we experience, since that is also a product of evolution.
That being said, I’m not suggesting that we can completely control our thought processes. I’m just questioning the acceptable norm and the irrationality that lies in not wanting to experience underlying principles of certain systems because … well, because we’re human. I like a good gamble myself, which is why I chose to start this blog and see wherever it leads.
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