I’m re-posting this piece in light of an ensuing discussion about language that my previous post has sparked. I want to highlight that any notion of truth validated by linguistic exchange is vague at best and relies on mutual trust within a given social group, be they a body of scientists, or you and me in our front rooms or at our laptops here on WP. The notion of an ‘objective truth’ cannot exist outside of linguistic exchange because in and of itself it is a linguistic description that supports an intuitive understanding of what that notion may mean to a given individual. Why do we then place so much emphasis and importance on the printed or spoken word? Perhaps because we feel that it can be quantified in a way that non-verbal communication cannot? Our current culture, its politics, sciences, education systems are built on the strength and validity of the printed word, but it is a limited view of what may be considered the entire repertoire of perceptions that we each have at our disposal, the non-verbal perceptions that are just as valid, if not more so than our ability to exchange verbal utterances, whether face to face or through printed text.
Therefore if you remove the power of verbal communication and language from our repertoire of communication, then it perhaps becomes more evident that experience is highly subjective, that delineating a potential ‘objective truth’ suddenly becomes more difficult. Experience becomes much more immediate and focussed in the present moment, just as it is for young children before language and what we recognise as verbal communication is ‘acquired’. It perhaps also becomes evident that each individual’s experience is much more intuitive and instinctive than is given credit for, and that in many ways it is a much more developed and highly advanced form of communication and interaction with the surrounding environment than verbal language alone affords.
We communicate verbally so that we can imagine visually and emotionally. Verbal language is merely a vehicle for unspoken intent.
I wrote this in response to an ongoing conversation with a brilliant fellow blogger about the nature of people and what we call ‘our’ reality. It makes a good blog-post in itself, so I’m presenting it here with the odd tweak. Click here to view the original thread (scroll down to the most recent comments).
I happen to think that the world is in balance, and that people are too, it’s just that our demented limited language structure makes a hash of it all, confusing the issue and twisting everything out of proportion. There is no consensus seemingly, because we cannot agree linguistically. We place sooo much weight on the magical word that like a bunch of crack addicts we get addicted to those little spidery squiggles as if our lives depended on it, and the ridiculous thing is most of society does, and hangs off each syllable like it’s a bloking great epitaph. Verbal communication forms, what?…7% of all communication. Well what weight do we place on the other 93%?
Sure a lot of that is based on visual stimuli, the multi-semiotics of everyday life, but a fair proportion is also based on the kinesthetic and the emotive. Life is like a scratch and sniff iceberg, deep beneath that visible tip is a heck of a lot more than anyone bargained for, and a very deep smell of brewing coffee.
What I’m getting at is that current popular thinking likes to pigeonhole and pare things down into either-or bite-size chunks, and therein lies the problem. We create paradoxes and contradictions so that we don’t have to actually see things for what they really are, mostly hypocritical and fallacious. Smoke screens designed exactly to confuse and obfuscate. It’s religion as it has been for centuries all over again. In fact all that’s changed really in terms of people’s thinking habits is the bill-board picture. Maybe we can even conjecture that it’s just a human knee-twitch, inevitable, though by all means not unavoidable. As we both agree contradictions do not exist, so everything must be taken into account with no exceptions to the rule.
We have physical reality at our disposal, with all it’s gadgetry and stuff, more stuff than you can shake a big stick at. Let’s use it all, take advantage of what we have to hand, physically that is, but also use that other percentage of ourselves that stays well hidden. Like a dog it too needs to be taken out for a walk everyday to keep it healthy, it needs to be loved and played with. Why not just be mindful of the balance that already exists within and ‘seemingly’ outside of us?
Thank you to the internet source for the above image: http://www.123rf.com/photo_15501001_private-information-hidden-insider-knowledge-and-secret-personal-or-business-data-as-a-partialy-subm.html
Published by Maria a.k.a. Bess/Ishaiya
I am an artist, writer, photographer and social commentator. Mum, wife, Synaesthete, linguist, cook, ex-musician and philosopher. Not necessarily in that order.
View all posts by Maria a.k.a. Bess/Ishaiya
22 thoughts on “Scratch n’sniff Icebergs”
Thank you Devan! 🙂
You have such a wonderful way of explaining your point. Such clarity. I am impressed! 🙂
What a lovely thing to say, thank you! I guess it’s a subject I’m very passionate about 🙂
Reblogged this on IshaiyaFreshlySqueezed.
I’m certainly with you on the power and influence of non-verbal comms, but it gets a backburner in our societies because it cannot be quantified. That is not, however, to say that people expert in this communicative realm suffer in any way… quite the opposite, these are the people often attributed with having extra-ordinary people skills. Kids should be encouraged to hone these skills, but sadly i fear most parents don’t even recognise that they exist.
Actually I think a lot of it can be quantified, but because so much emphasis until now has been placed on stodgy tried and tested methods, people in such fields have not, up until recently begun to ask different questions only to discover a whole raft of quantifiable information that has always been in existence. Such is the case with the study of linguistics and how new methods of collecting data are beginning to yield very interesting results in terms of recognising highly sophisticated patterns in language that differ distinctively from what may be termed ‘literary’. Thus justifying the need to rewrite the current definition of ‘standard’ grammar.
Besides the study of linguistics is regarded as a soft- science because it is based in the main on observations and intuitions, or the ‘qualitative’ approach mixed with quantitative data. Quantative data alone is not sufficient to create an effective understanding of any discipline, that data is invariably interpreted qualitatively.
What I’m saying is that non-verbal communication is just as significant as the verbal in our everyday lives, it’s just that culturally more emphasis and validity is placed on the tiny percentage that is verbal. And more fool you if you believe everything you hear or read, versus what you know and understand to be true for yourself.
Agreed. Good to see you’re really into this. That sort of passion would make you a damn good lecturer.
I’m almost seriously doing a PhD in linguistics after my degree. I like the sound of ‘Professor of Languages’… this sort of stuff, the stuff and guts of language makes me giddy with excitement 🙂
There is a segment of the population that just doesn’t ‘get’ nonverbal communication. They are the socially awkward, the autistic and others that do not pick up on visual/verbal cues. They are at a significant disadvantage in understanding a full dimension of spoken conversation if they can only interpret the words. An interesting phenomenon occurred shortly after e-mail became popular: the failure for sarcasm or other verbal cues to come across in that medium, much to the chagrin of some senders.
A good point—sarcasm is wasted on the blind. Oops, deaf. Oops, the visually and acoustically impaired … bugger, I’m sure I’m insulting someone somewhere here, and not even trying …
It is amazing how much we rely on visual cues in order to understand any piece of verbal communication effectively. Sometimes verbal language simply hinders effective communication, and there is no need for it. I’m currently writing a follow-up post about non-verbal communication just to clear up some confusion that has arisen due to my last post.
Sheldrake’s ideas of ‘morphic resonance’ are so far out of the mainstream to qualify him for ‘wacko’ status, sight unseen. But if that’s not thingy communication, nothing is … and his observations seem so very right.
Non-verbal goes dud over the telephone too—no wonder they’re beavering away on visual as well as audio.
Women are regarded as being the experts in non-verbal comms, is that why Maddy Albright and ol’ Hillary were chosen as galloping war mongers? (No point in being diplomatic if the official Wench can read your posture like a book; trust the Yanks not to miss a trick)(must’ve been watching the Brits with Maggie, or the Krauts with the Angel?)
The study of non-verbal communication is a discipline in its own right, it is the language of semiotics, predominantly a visual language that like verbal language has its own grammatical structure if you like. It’s used heavily in advertising, and is very structured, complex and very clever, if rather a lot subliminally sneaky.
I am currently writing a post about NVC, just to clear up the slight misunderstanding that has occurred in that some people believe that I am alluding to something supernatural or ‘magical’ when I talk of non-verbal coms [of course there is that as well]. Easy mistake to make I suppose….
As for Sheldrake, not familiar and from what I’ve managed to garner from the interweb, his theory is interesting but I’m not going to rush out and buy his book right now. He like many others still seems to fall foul to scientific convention, so it will be like bashing my head against a brick wall no doubt.
NVC … different ‘languages’ there too …
The partner and I were joking about that one too this evening, which film was it? Apocalypse Now or Good Morning Vietnam?
If you haven’t seen this series I highly recommend it. Brilliant!
Sadly the canned it after the 4th series?
I used to watch it religiously, good fun! Yeah I don’t know why they canned it, shame really Tim Roth’s character was brilliant.
Someone said it was because t taught Americans to read their politicians!
I can believe that! Lol
You feeling better?
Paranoid, much! But I can believe it too… silly people
Much better, still not totally rid, but up and about and doing normal things again, which is nice. And once again back to immersing myself in study whilst trying to juggle three kids, can only manage it for a few minutes at a time… then I drop one and it all gets a bit messy…
first off, loved the story from the view of the fly…maybe he was just about to recognize his own consciousness…that said, I agree with you completely. I’m sick to death of hearing scientists say they know it all, when even Einstein admitted in almost every formula he came up with, there was one thing he couldn’t calculate, so at times he added in x or y to represent an unknown value. we don’t use 90% of our brain, yet I also believe thought and comprehension are not preformed in the brain…they are a compilation of all we’ve learned or been taught. yet what could be there in our brain that we don’t know or use…could there be a tiny section that IS the actual center of our thoughts? we won’t ever know until we evolve far enough to use all of our brain. til then we are poop throwing monkeys in my mind! hehe maybe not all of us, but a large majority.
but I also wonder about how cells know when to divide or multiply, who tells them, our brain, our desires, or are they also thinking for themselves??? oh but the mind is a trickly thing, but I agree completely its not in the brain, I think it IS our soul. or part of it. sadly though, I also think it is based on our desires and not based in intellegence. for what is intellegence, what we have been taught to believe is our education? no, it’s much deeper than that, its what our entire blob of a body has learned by trial and error over our life span, in what pleases us and what doesn’t…which always comes back to what we desire… thus I think our intellegence is based on what our soul believes to be true, either through what our higher power/others communicating with you, teaches us, or in my case God speaking to me through my soul, my little piece of Him in me, connected at all times. then again, I also believe we are all connected to everyone, via our souls, yet we just aren’t conscious enough yet to realize it. we’ve been trained just like the aforementioned monkeys that science knows all, when it clearly doesn’t, and to believe in this taught reality, which has clearly hampered and stopped us from learning the real truth and evolving into smarter beings. and spoken language has NOT helped, it has possibly slowed us down.
have a lovely day Ish! 🙂
Yep, wonderfully put Shards, thank you for sharing your magnificent thoughts. I agree though, that language is often a handicap to knowledge that is readily available through other means of perception and understanding.
You have a lovely day too Shards! 🙂