Ktismatics

11 January 2007

Conversation Gap

Filed under: Ktismata — ktismatics @ 3:26 pm

If you already know everything I know, there would be no reason for me to talk or for you to listen. If it’s impossible for you to know anything I know, there would also be no reason for me to talk to you. Conversation exists in the gap between perfect knowledge and perfect ignorance. To ask questions in conversation is to close the gap.

What can we say about what is never said? Silence is the space occupied jointly by what we already both know and by what neither one of us can ever know. To ask questions in silence is to open the gap.

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6 Comments »

  1. “Conversation exists in the gap between perfect knowledge and perfect ignorance.”

    You seem to be implying that conversation exists for sake of knowledge gathering….I don’t know if I like that….

    “If you already know everything I know, there would be no reason for me to talk or for you to listen. If it’s impossible for you to know anything I know, there would also be no reason for me to talk to you.”

    There is a third option: We both know everything that the other person knows, but we just enjoy hearing each other say it! An example comes to mind of people who have the same political opinions, but who nonetheless enjoy going back and forth for hours on end. Did either one really learn anything? No. Did they add to their knowledge base? No. They were just jazzed up and enjoyed hearing their beliefs echoed and also enjoyed the moment of expression and the opportunity to ramble about their political passions.

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    Comment by Jonathan Erdman — 11 January 2007 @ 10:25 pm

  2. Very good; you’re right. I wrote about what silence might mean; you’re addressing what conversation might mean other than its content. I think this whole non-communicative aspect of conversation is a fruitful area to pursue.

    Your clarification illustrates the value of questioning what has been said in order to close the gap in understanding. But you also opened up something on which I was silent: the purpose of conversation. Implicitly I was assuming that conversation is intended to communicate knowledge. Exposing my tacit assumption opened it up as a gap. Now it’s on the table as a subject of knowledge, and we can work on closing the gap. Iteration between tacit and explicit, words and silence, understanding and misunderstanding, self and other.

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    Comment by ktismatics — 12 January 2007 @ 8:21 am

  3. Good points. Iterability….good points…..

    Interestingly enough I found more pleasure in exposing a gap then I did in gaining knowledge or reaching understanding, and I’m afraid that would be a bit of carnal glee!

    My interactions with bloggers like you – bloggers I enjoy interacting with – illustrates to me that in addition to reaching understanding and gaining/giving knowledge there is also a certain “fun” in the act of communicating itself. I enjoy connecting with bloggers simply to connect. Communication for the joy of communicating. Debate for the fun of it!

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    Comment by Jonathan Erdman — 12 January 2007 @ 11:48 pm

  4. To what extent is conversation an opportunity to be heard? The blogger gets to say whatever he wants, but there’s always the anxiety (for me, at least) that nobody’s paying any attention. The only sure indication that anyone’s listening is when they comment. But then the focus of conversation shifts from the post to the comment. Rather than acknowledging the brilliance of the post and asking for further clarification, the commenter exposes gaps in the post, revealing it as deficient, and filling the gap with the commenter’s own content. So at the very moment of blogpost satisfaction (someone is listening, someone is responding) the satisfaction is inverted (I don’t really have anything to say, I have to listen to the commenter). Fun? Joy? My God, don’t you realize what a freaking nightmare it is? It’s a variant on Hegel’s master-servant dialectic, I think (wow, that ktismatics even reads Hegel!).

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    Comment by ktismatics — 13 January 2007 @ 6:49 am

  5. That was a brilliant comment!!!

    Could you further clarify???

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    Comment by Jonathan Erdman — 15 January 2007 @ 1:42 am

  6. Nope. Too late.

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    Comment by ktismatics — 15 January 2007 @ 6:51 am


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