Archive for June, 2008
“Wise men talk because they have something to say; fools, because they have to say something.” – Plato
To talk only for the sake of communication itself seems pretty unnecessary for some people. Well, it probably is. But there is more to it than most may realise. Small talk is like grooming. Primates form bonds of trust and build cooperation groups. They groom each other to get food, sex or other favours.
Maybe we don’t go that far just with small talk but it’s in a way the best option to start a conversation to get to know each other. The special thing about this form of phatic expressions is that it serves to find a way to communicate. It’s about evaluating the spoken language, style and level. Some do this even only to overcome a waiting time or an uncomfortable silence. Imagine two computers just connecting to say ‘hi, how you’re doin’?’ – sounds a bit pathetic, doesn’t it?
In general, there are the following categories of conversations based upon their involved topics: ideas, concrete objects and facts, people, the self. Their different purposes are: extend understanding and awareness, consolidate a general view, boosting of self esteem, attracting attention. Anyway, to start talking about something with somebody, you might want to consider a topic that’s neutral, without heavy personal information and hard questions. Make the talking part easy by staying simple!
“When I want your opinion, I’ll give it to you.” – Samuel Goldwyn (assumed)
Language is fun. You can do almost anything with words. Even if they come out wrong they still make sense. When you know how to communicate on the exact right level, you’re able to achieve most things. As with many other areas ‘the more you know – the better you can handle situations’ counts. The better you understand, the more you can make yourself and your arguments understandable. It’s like a pool with waves representing statements. A good recipient takes a wave, balances it, and returns a compensated one back to its sender.
Now, it’s fun when it comes to humorous statements resulting from the use of paradoxes. Some Goldwynisms (Samuel Goldwyn, producer for motion picture studios from the ’20s to the ’50s) I recommend:
I don’t want any yes-men around me. I want everyone to tell the truth – even though it costs him his job.
Tell them to stand closer apart.
You fail to overlook the crucial point.
I’ll give you a definite maybe.
Include me out.
Then there are the Yogiisms (baseball player Peter Berra around the ’50s and ’60s) featuring oxymoronic redundancies.
Ninety percent of this game is half mental.
Always go to other people’s funerals, otherwise they won’t come to yours.
It’s like déjà vu all over again.
It ain’t over till it’s over.
Other malapropisms known as Farberisms (after David Farber, IT scientist since the ’50s and lecturer afterwards) are illogical and non sequitur statements.
That solution fills a much needed gap.
It’s the vilest smell I ever heard.
Let them fry in their socks.
You can also have much fun with Spoonerisms (by William Spooner, priest and lecturer around the beginning of the 19th century). That works in various languages and combinations.
Let us glaze our asses to the queer old Dean. (raise our glasses .. dear old Queen)
We’ll have the hags flung out. (flags hung)
Kentucky schreit ficken. (Kentucky Fried Chicken)
Go and shake a tower. (take a shower)
It’s raining. Additionally it’s still unpleasantly hot. So those who sit in their offices can sweat their coffee out while the ones on the outside are getting their make-ups washed. But I don’t really want to comment the weather. I leave that to the annoying football commentators as it adds a bit of suspense to the whole fan and commercial society.
I’m also not really in the mood of writing, so I’ll just leave a few links to a great comedian who died four days ago. He’s known by the Americans for going past the limits of TV and Radio manners. What I find kind of interesting – and I don’t know much from his shows – is, that he managed to speak to a big audience in a direct and uncensored way but staying both understandable and on a sometimes high level of the communication itself.
In one of George Carlins best known routines, he went against euphemisms and said that they’ve become so widespread that no one can simply ‘die’. To phrase it in his words:
‘Older’ sounds a little better than ‘old’, doesn’t it? Sounds like it might even last a little longer. [..] I’m getting old. And it’s OK. Because thanks to our fear of death in this country I won’t have to die – I’ll ‘pass away’. Or I’ll ‘expire’, like a magazine subscription. If it happens in the hospital they’ll call it a ‘terminal episode’. The insurance company will refer to it as ‘negative patient care outcome’. And if it’s the result of malpractice they’ll say it was a ‘therapeutic misadventure’.
When suspense is your first name and satire your last, you may be the author of The Gun Seller. Written by Hugh Laurie already about 10 years ago. Laurie, who is probably best known for his role as Dr. House, could have made the scripts to his acting dialogues by himself. At least, that’s going to be your impression when you know the TV series and start reading his first novel afterwards. The book shows his ability to play off childish and driest satirical counterquestions at its best.
It’s pretty easy read and makes struggles for survival seem rather ordinary and almost comfortable. Laurie narrates in the first person and you’re to follow his thoughts about almost anything while going from one unconventional situation to another. This makes it a nice piece to read for now and then and even in between. One might criticise that there are often new characters introduced and maybe that the whole story is missing some of the depth it’s seeking, but the conversations itself work and bring a lot of wit and intelligence into it. His descriptions of characters and situations but most of all his art of answering without an actual answer are somehow comic-ous and simply great.
Die meisten Dinge die wir gerne besitzen würden haben Nachteile die wir nicht sofort erahnen. So könnten zum Beispiel im Handbuch der Jungfräulichkeit – Achtung: kann leichte Gebrauchsspuren aufweisen – folgende Hinweise stehen. Unerfahrenheit kann zu falschen Hoffnungen führen; ungebrauchte Teile können den Spass erheblich bremsen; volle Motorleistung erst ab einer bestimmten Verwendungszahl; kann bei falscher Handhabung zu ungewollten Nebeneffekten führen;
Warum wir nun trotzdem nach bestimmten Zuständen streben, die kaum erreichbar sind kann den Grund haben, dass ehemalige Erwartungen nicht erfüllt wurden (siehe Lolita – Film). Die vorgelebte Vorstellung von bestimmten Ausprägungen kann lebensbestimmend wirken (siehe Barbie und Barbie Syndrom). Einflüssen die uns prägen können wir kaum entgegenwirken. Was jedoch den Unterschied ausmacht ist die Möglichkeit sich selbst zu hinterfragen. Jedoch erst, nachdem eine Entscheidung getroffen wurde und bevor noch mit der Ausführung dieser begonnen wurde. Das ist Intelligenz. Das ist unser persönlicher Kampf gegen Faulheit und Meinungslosigkeit.
Unser Denken vermag es nicht Berge zu versetzen, aber unser Handeln. Doch genau dieses Denken sollte verhindern, dass wir für unseren eigenen Vorteil anderen Schaden zufügen; unsere Verantwortung beim Empfang abgeben; die Fenster von aussen verschliessen; oder uns von einem temporären Fussballgott (siehe Fussball EM Zensur) Gedächtnisverlust verordnen lassen.