Friday, March 24, 2006

STFU, You Clever Klutz, I Always Win.

Who said artifice is necessary for a good conversation?

David Hume, that's who. And how does artifice contribute to a good conversation? According to Hume, because of this artifice of manners,

"...a mutual deference is affected; contempt of others disguised; authority concealed; attention given to each in his turn; and an easy stream of conversation maintained, without vehemence, without interruption, without eagerness for victory, and without any airs of superiority." (emphasis mine)

Ah. I see that Hume's observation completely destroys my idea of a model conversation.

For example, my conversations with close friends about music are harsh pronouncements: "You DON'T LIKE WILCO?!" (I think the band in question was Steely Dan, but Wilco has also led to major re-evaluation of friendships....)

Or, if the topic is films, I pontificate and humiliate: "You sad, stupid jerk, if you need a guidebook to understand the last 5 minutes of "2001", then you must promise never to watch a film again"

I think you get the point. I cannot converse well. Which makes me the perfect target for this new book reviewed in NYT: Stephen Miller's "Conversation: A History of A Declining Art". (you know you can use if you aren't a registered user...)

I humbly request all you powerful, excellent, supremely gifted, beautiful and patient blog readers to read that link and benefit from it. Hey, I am beginning to like this artifice business!

Update: Blogger buddy Alok, whose knowledge and passion for all things Proust astounds me (this is not artifice, dude), shares this excellent link to a post titled "Why Good Conversations Are So Hard to Come By". Thanks, Alok.


Alok said...


you don't have many friends, do you?

Alok said...

btw Proust thought the same about "friendly" conversation too...

can't find the actual quote but got another one

"'Renan says we must avoid friendship with individuals, Emerson that we should progressively change every friendship for a better....I am growing weary of insincerity and friendship, two things which are practically identical.'"

and this defends the "insincerity" of "friendly" conversations

Alok said...

Okay found it

some people are even debating about it :)

Ph said...

So I guess inviting you for beer and pakodas is out of the question. Tsk.

km said...

If it's onion pakodas and really warm Guinness, I won't insult *anyone*. Mmm...pakodas and beer. I am hungry again.


my best conversations are abbreviated and monosyllabic... more is said that way, I think.

Gawain said...

good conversations can be either what Hume recommended: a sort of pleasant parlor game (good if the TV is down); or the sort KM recommends, in which one learns something. sadly, the sort of conversations I tend to find myself in are neither: one person issues forth a cloud of memes heard somewhere (almost never read somewhere, who reads?); the other then checks the data banks for some possibly relevant keywords and parries with a similar cloud of memes, roughly on the subject, yes, but other people's thoughts, and usually not very good. daily i find myself suspecting there is something to the beahaviorist theories of mind.

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Neurolinguistic Programming

In the early 1970s in America Richard Bandler, then a young college student studied the work of Fritz Perls and later Virginia Satir and found that he could reproduce their high-level therapy skills to a degree that even surprised him. Bandler seemed to have a natural ability to mimic (model) the language patterns by Virginia and Fritz.

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Bandler and Grinder had set out to model the hypnotic skills of Milton Erickson. They had astounding results. They built a communication model about human "thinking" and "processing" and used that model of how we see images, hear sounds, reproduces smells and tactile experiences in our mind to track and model the structure of subjective experiences.

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Another good example of NLP involves Anchors. Have you ever smelt a certain perfume or aftershave and had it remind you of a certain person or situation? Gone to a certain place that brings feelings long forgotten flooding back? Or been in any situation that creates emotional responses that would not normally be associated with it? Well if you can answer yes to any of these then you have experienced anchors. Some anchors are associated with positive feelings and some with negative emotions. However, you should be aware that anchors can be consciously installed or already existing ones altered. Here is an example:

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