communication the greatest discovery of the 20th century

little-know fact that communication, or the art of communication, was not always with us. of course, it was available as an academic discipline, called “rhetoric”, invented by our pal Plato, and dispersed to intellectuals in ivory towers.

but, down on the ground, the sheeple, the masses – even mocked this art. it was a measure of disrespect to say to someone, “ok, let’s get through all this rhetoric”, meaning something artificial, meant to confuse, not to illuminate.

it reminds me a bit of the internet – it was in use, really, full and practical use, in the 1980’s. but, the common goatherd would have spit on you and told you you were wasting your time with electronics, if you had mentioned communicating with someone via electronic mail. until 1994.

so it was with communication. like a lot of things that improved our lives, it came out of the 1960’s exposure to Eastern culture, in which openness and understand were the very foundation of a joyous life. it’s hard for people these days to even believe that at one time, not long ago, no one in the United States knew what yogurt was. Coffee was coffee. Just coffee. Just beer. Just wine.

At some point, psychologists expanded that aspect of psychotherapy which proposes healing benefits to getting in touch with deeper feelings, and expressing them to someone else. now, no one would have said something so ghey as “get in touch with your feelings”, but they would have said “try to tell me how you truly fell, not how you think others would like you to feel”. That kind of convoluted sentence fits perfectly into the psychology of the 60s.

It took the business community to push the power of communication – effective communication – out to the peasants, as something that was “good for you.” I want to say it was Norman Vincent Peale’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People” that broke the sound barrier, and reached white suburbia, with the “good news” that, maybe your only problem is not being understood; that, if you keep your consciousness trained on what it is that you want to achieve with this other person, and you execute your communication with skills that contribute, not detract, from this goal, you WILL get what you want. and you will be happy.

This is dense. The first revelation is: communication is used to get something. At a minimum, the communicator wants to get a nod of understanding. This would have been, and still is for many, a difficult concept to accept. Of course, everyone “understands” what I am talking about. But to accept that we are objective-driven, in all aspects of our lives, and thus our disappointment, our feelings of ennui, come solely from the inability to get what we want – that will ruffle feathers (of chickens).

So, let’s say your goal is to get people to like you. Now, first you have to come to accept that you want this. You know, you might be swimming in your own bullshit, and respond, “I don’t need anybody. I don’t give a shit what people think of me”. All that is confusion, pal. Even Van Gogh wanted desperately from Monet to like him.

The second really hard thing is what Noam Chomsky referred to (a lot!) as the empirical method. Who cares what it’s called. It’s the idea that you want to be objective. We all know that too! Jeez. Why don’t you say something we don’t know already! Well, think of objectivity this way: you have to describe the actual outcome; then, you have to state what your original objective was. If the two don’t match, your method failed. You have to now stop. You don’t get 20 more seconds to come up with external variables that cause you to fail, because God and your mom told you that you are NOT a failure honey. It’s just this” you didn’t get what you want. If you still want it, it’s on you to fix the method you employ to get it.”

Again: here you are in the boardroom, giving a presentation. If you pull yourself out of the situation, Matrix-like, for just a second, you’ll notice that some people are checking their email; others are looking into space; but mostly, people are glaring at you, with their faces set like Stonehenge.

Now ask yourself: “ya think they like me? think they gonna accept my proposal”. Obviously, not. So, here’s where you say, “fuck ’em! I’m a genius, and they are just cattle. I will live on in the hearts of the true, the good forever, while they languish in their own feces”.

I mean, you really have to look at this. It’s tricky. Because, in terms of self-communication, you WILL try to fool yourself. Just believe me for one second – one second of true acceptance that you are stuck in a cycle of blind entitlement, and that you are a bulldozer – you are shaped like a bulldozer, you look like a bulldozer, and people talk about you behind your back.

Now, what do you want to do? What can you do? It’s overwhelming? Like losing 100 pounds? Do you need TV show?

No. You just have to examine your communication in a very clinical way. After you do the above – what the Buddhist call “waking up”, you can begin to see. Extended examples to follow.


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