Communication is impossible. I had a friend who would always- whenever the conversation would turn to communication- continue with the same line, "It's like my friend Paul always says, 'communication is impossible.'" I never really found that to be a particularly clever insight of Paul's. Even less important to introduce as a quote; I mean it seems like a pretty standard idea, after all. And yet here I am, quoting a friend who would quote a friend. Communication is impossible and- I would add- abstract.
We each live within our mind. I don't know if it's just the eventuality of a dual existence wherein the mind is somehow convinced that it is separate from the body or if it is actually separate. Or perhaps, it's society telling us its separate. Our society- at least my society- loves to remind me of that. We have ways to socialize without actually physically socializing. We can communicate anywhere at any time without a physical presence. We take classes and write guides as to how to communicate more directly or more abstractly, communication then has a further level of abstraction: construction. Yet the simple truth is everyone exists within their mind and no matter what we do to try to talk our ways out of it, we're mental entities trapped in a physical world.
I've only ever truly communicated twice. I mean, I sure as hell attempt it daily. But only twice without the use of language or touch or taste or any other fancy aesthetic we wrap our minds in to share with others. Interesting when you think of it that way. Wrapping ideas in aesthetics. But where's the data? Where's the idea? It gets lost or diluted in translation. The act of thinking in a structured form is the first level; deciding the encoding is the second; sending that data through the physical world the third; the communicatee receiving it, the fourth; and finally their translation is the fifth. The fact that we can really understand ANYTHING another person's thinking is phenomenal. Or can we?
We project a lot. I mean, understanding is really hard- we have a lot of classes to teach us how to think, how to formulate ideas, but very few on understanding them. It's no wonder that we project so often. I would say that art critiquing classes or art exposure classes are good for understanding, but given the current postmodern trend in art critique, we've destroyed the burden of understanding completely and have somehow determined that it is the viewer's obligation to project their own thoughts into the piece. We're taught how to read by looking for important identifiers and piecing together our projection. We're even rewarded if we can project an original enough idea onto a writer's work. So where is understanding, where is the art of listening?
The first time I truly communicated with someone was in the middle of a forest in the middle of the mountains in the middle of nowhere. I had to drive 4 hours and hike 3 to get this far detached from society. He came up to me and my friends out of nowhere. He was dressed in white, loose-fitting clothing. He had brown hair and was young and attractive. Not particularly good looking, but there was something about him that really spoke. All he wanted to do is sit next to us and converse. The people I was with took turns, telling stories. He attempted to join in, but the others really didn't quite like him- I think they were a little wary that he approached us so candidly.
After a while, he did, however, begin to talk to some people as individuals whilst the others were occupied with their current conversations. To each person, he only asked, "would you like to feel how it is I feel?" Everyone else in my group was even further weirded out by this visitor. Eventually, they began to subtly hint that they were uncomfortable with him there. I was really comfortable. I think he sensed it. Before leaving with grace and without having to be asked to, he approached me. He held out his hand and I took it. He then looked directly into my eyes; more direct than anyone had ever. Attached at the hand and keeping our gazes locked, I felt him. I noticed every subtle movement he made, felt where his mind was. It was pure, it was gentle, calm, and powerful. This only lasted a moment-a moment that seemed an eternity- before it was over. He smiled, knowing and said, "you have a great darkness in you."
I immediately disconnected, immediately put up my guard. Immediately responded with, "me and my darkness are happy together." He then left; back from where he came. I do not regret that uniquest of moments. I do not regret what I said after. But I realize I didn't understand what he was talking about; didn't want to understand. But I understood that brief moment perfectly. Communication- true understanding- left me vulnerable. I had- perhaps still have- a darkness I didn't want to face at the time. And he saw it.
true communication makes you truly vulnerable.