Dear Colleagues and Students of
Language, Fiction, Liberal Art
& Goedel, Escher, Bach.
Crossing the Curriculum.
Coursing Without Borders
For the Sake of Argument.
visible to the
The Holy Grail
always right in front of our very gnosis:
Steven Pinker in The Stuff of Thought:
Language as Window into Human Nature,
claims that every sentence is doing 2 things
at once—simultaneous—which I render as:
I. Sending an explicit message
e = mc square
how ‘bout that polar
meltdown? send this to Hodges!
take 2 aspirin and get some sleep. etc.
II. “negotiating relationship,”
the implicit message:
Like me, really like me, or allo-variations
on that fit-in theme.
Any one can imagine how much diversity
there is in expressing “Like me! Damnit.”
I couldn’t count the ways.
Jeff Sprocket flies to
laptop primed to deliver a professional
power point presentation on Chaucer’s
vowels, or Hilary’s health care….
whatever his explicit message
makes no never mind.
Implicitly: he’s saying like me,
really like me—I fit in
Anyone can say which is PRIMARY:
the explicit or the implicit:
“please, please: me!”
We can argue IT out:
face-to-face as it were,
in manners of speaking.
It’s a figure-ground ratio going on & on.
Now it’s the content, topic, subject-object
matter I’m tending to (A.D.D. as far as Negotiating
Relationship is concerned).
Now it’s the other way around:
me— concentrating my efficient attention
on relationship negotiation (tenure with a
significant other or with colleagues, say;
or any relationship-investment considered
crucial to my homeland security & so I’m
paying less attention to the so-called topic
of con-verse (trash removal, say, who did it
last, or dishes; global warming maybe, or
whatever: mere tokens in the
play of relationship:
my fit-to-misfit negotiations.
At any point in real time, it’s hard to say which
I’m tending to tend to efficiently/deficiently: the
explicit or the implicit: the message or the massage.
I don’t know half the time what level my level is on.
Just trying to get ahead best I can & it’s always the
principle of the thing, I claim. If you told me I was
manipulating my relationship negotiation skills, I’m
sure I’d have to deny it.
We’re talking supra-segmental phonemes
here, damnit: illegal immigration, dogs
on campus, salary ranges & benchmarks,
no child left behind, molecules & mitochondria,
That’s what all this con-verse is about?
Need we argue?
Of course, we must.
Double Double Boil & Bubble.
Bottom-line token topic/content subject-object
matter level is both means & cover-up, media
and preventive measures, explicit eclipsing if
not occluding the implicit. Unilaterally I can’t
say what I mean; I can’t mean what I say.
We have to negotiate.