Communication, driven by assumptions

We cannot connect or communicate intentionally without some assurance of common assumptions to buoy us through the effort. I find that through subtle hints – the sort of unintended communication that takes place whenever there is one organism perceiving another and “making sense” of what they see. Through these hints, if I feel the gap is too great – whether this is true, or just a habitual expectation – I find that I limit my attempts to communicate anything beyond the typical pings and logistical filler of everyday conversation. There is a recognition of futility in attempting to do anything more challenging.

Now, this appears to be a mode of efficiency…. That never stands for me as reason to do anything, so I don’t necessarily trust this appearance. I have been surprised in both directions, misinterpreting the level of connection possible and just getting it wrong. Of the two ways to er here, one makes us seem eccentric and odd, the other introduces us to a serendipitous contact that may be highly significant. It’s a shame we fear the first more than we hunger for the second option.

But without some “common ground,” as the phrase goes, we cannot build that mix of illusion, performance, mutual projections, and possible sixth-sense connection to Mind – whatever that might be, although I’m certain it has happened and is quite possible – we cannot build this array of modes of contact and mediated perception into anything that approaches a mutually coherent experience.

We go through life bumping along looking for peers and those close enough to our assumptions but far enough apart from us to be interesting. Sometimes we choose garrulity and a wide net, other times we absorb the isolation it brings and focus our attention on fewer but deeper connections. This is an ongoing fluid dynamic – as is everything. A continuum of possibilities punctuated by changes in order as various phase changes are tripped. This brings us to new levels of connection or isolation that become the new “baseline” of our expectations. Insisting on using statements like “A continuum of possibilities punctuated by changes in order as various phase changes are tripped.” is one of those tripping events that likely shuts down many possibly wider avenues while hopefully sharpening connections on a deeper level…. We’ll see.

This is why I’m writing about this today. When one spends most of their time and effort questioning assumptions and looking for “clean air” or “sound flesh” on which to continue in a process towards greater clarity and coherence one of the greatest challenges becomes this limiting factor; that since all communication requires at least the illusion of common assumptions, any conversation/dialogue that questions all assumptions as they come into view will likely be fraught, and sporadic, and not well attended.

Sounds like a recipe for failure, if not disaster. If it wasn’t for the ways our present course give us a constant barrage of confirmation that our common notions of success are completely bankrupt, it would be nearly impossible to continue in this way with the obvious levels of difficulty built into such an endeavor. This is another aspect of our “Moment of Clarity.” For all the signs that we are in deep irremediable trouble this is the one consolation, the clarifying quality of danger and closed-off avenues. A maze is confusing. A maze on fire is not. In the first we have no way of knowing which way to go. In the second we have little choice in the matter.

So there is a nudge factor, an annoying carping quality in someone who continuously focuses on such things, especially if one’s listeners, readers, audience; are unable to process the situation and react to the fear such a conversation awakens – out of the anesthetized slumber our culture maintains us in. This resistance easily becomes anger directed outwards and making it downright dangerous to be telling people about how dangerous our general predicament is.

One of the basic assumptions within our culture is that we live in a myriad of graduated abstractions that nest together to form a dazzling Fabergé Egg of spectacle which we then call reality. One of these is the notion of markets and negotiation. That all possible interactions must be understood as power plays. Within this view any communication is about gaining or maintaining or defending power. We have agendas and we fail or succeed depending on how well we manage to meet them. Everyone else is doing the same. Every interaction is then a form of coercion, either veiled or open, intended to convince.

What is forgotten in all this, along with just about anything of any actual value, is that we cannot be convinced to believe or disbelieve anything. This includes the belief that rationalism, the mechanism by which we negotiate power in communication, along with its binary opposite, raw naked emotional appeals to the reptilian brain stem; will convince someone to change their beliefs.

Let me introduce you to incoherence…. This is what it looks like. It is different from paradox. Paradox points to a level of order beyond the one we are currently viewing. It is a sign that we are on the verge of insight into a deeper order when we are aware of paradox. When we bounce off of incoherence we have run into a barrier that we cannot perceive at all. It is a clear divider in an aquarium. To a fish the water “over there” is “right there!” But somehow they never get there. This is how incoherence works. Our assumptions don’t add up, they conflict. We feel a frustration at being unable to “progress.” Our frustration does not lead to insight. It leads to displacement, projection, the desperate search for someone, something to blame. We up the ante. We try harder. We lash out. None of this works, but it sure keeps us exercised! We are busy.

So, when what one is interested in exploring is the ways in which we might discover how to navigate the various forms of incoherence we are subject to, it is exceedingly difficult to find those willing to join in.

If we accept that we cannot coerce belief we know that there is no use arguing the matter. We have some sense of how we got here. It is clear, as clear as anything, that this was not as the result of being coerced or convinced. It was through a series of recognitions. A subtle process which has on one side the sort of hesitation to enter into futile relations and futile responses. On another side, there is this lightening of spirits, what I’ve called a joyful disillusionment, which appears when we confront something that exposes us to insights we are ready to see. This cannot be “scaled.” It cannot be marketed, or by any of our habitual ticks turned into “gold.” Within our selves we experience these events as some form of Grace. They awaken strong intuitions of our interconnectedness and of the power of love and compassion, but also reinforce a realization that whatever this is, it is not subject to will.

So, we are stuck in a situation in which the most common assumptions concern the primacy of will, and that all communication is coercive. In this environment any attempt to follow coherence will lead to an incoherent outcome – Most of the time we are “misunderstood.”

This can be reacted to by blaming those who “refuse to understand.” It can be turned inward as an accusation against one’s own organism for being inadequate.

It is no wonder that although this feature of our lives, this incoherence of thought, has probably been discovered many times in the past, it does not transmit very well.

I’m often reminded of Wily Wonka. Gene Wilder’s baffling performance always held some clue to something, even before I had any idea what it was. He would very matter-of-factly warn his greedy, thoughtless young visitors of the consequences if they failed to follow the rules of that strange place. He did it with a wry smile and with no trace of striving after being understood. Of course, he was ignored by everyone, except his young protegé, someone he only came to recognize as a kindred spirit when he was the only one left after all the others had succumbed to their willful blindness. His lesson quite clear now, we cannot coerce belief. No level of coercion, of striving willfully after a result will get us anything of true value.

One thing that seems to hold up as being of value is that recognizing the limits of what is possible, and of the difficulties surrounding what appears to need to be done, is helpful/healthful. This may be true here also. We need to communicate. We need to question all of our assumptions. These needs are trapped in a conflict between the ways we see our world, our situation, to be; and what appears to be needed to bring about some useful change. This conflict cannot be negotiated. It can only be resolved, as with any conflict, by widening the perspective to place the apparent disorder within the context of a greater order. This is how our Implicate Order works.

No short-cuts will be of any use. They are symptoms of incoherence. Belief in short-cuts a sign of our capture within a very popular form of incoherence.

One of those quiet, subtle hints that this is a good trail comes from the way accepting these conditions and proceeding in this manner takes us out of the illusions of living in some projected “future,” whether ten minutes or ten millennia away. This is a pretty good description of how we may inhabit our present and be open to what is truly possible while shedding conditioned illusions and gaining a sense of our own strength.

Such an attitude is beyond pessimism or optimism. It does not expect an emotional or rational, or any sort of coercive driver, to control how we respond to the situations we face. We don’t bargain after strategies of salvation or self-deception.

We are.

And that is a form of communication too. Perhaps this is the only real form, outside the gambits of negotiation?

Conventional communication is driven by assumptions. This form removes the conflict by removing the “driver.” Such communication is not driven. It does not expect anything that might already be known, since this is another central aspect of our incoherence, that we must remain within the finitude of what is already known. Creativity and Dialogue are both ways to proceed beyond what is known, what is expected and to unleash our access and capacity for infinite responses outside of any imagined, conditioned set of reactions.

Published by Antonio Dias

My work is centered on attending to the intersection of perception and creativity. Complexity cannot be reduced to any given certainty. Learning is Central: Sharing our gifts, Working together, Teaching and learning in reciprocity. Entering into shared Inquiry, Maintaining these practices as a way of life. Let’s work together to build practices, strengthen dialogue, and discover and develop community. Let me know how we might work together.

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