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Franis
dialoguers
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From A Dialoguer Who Writes
I'm happy to offer the benefit of my observations. I would love to know how or if you can use what I've been exploring here.

If you'd like to contact me personally to get in touch, check out my website.

August 2009
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Franis [userpic]
Presenting Ideas Without Ego

Being able to differentiate between "so and so's idea" and an idea that has lost any designation as coming from someone can be an exercise in an "objective" sort of intellectual disassociation. I have come to suspect its usefulness. Used to, but now I don't imagine it's particularly useful to think of memes or ideas as standing on their own, although it's interesting to imagine that's possible as curious intellectual entertainment. I'm open to it being useful in some way to me. Which means, I'm open to having it mean something more to me personally.

For me, it's important that someone experienced an idea directly, observed it, thought about it. The hope that all of us might do that to carry ourselves together somewhere new is in Dialogue.

Some of us have held up the value of egolessness being suspended from the Dialogue experience. I'm curious why this disassociation of idea from who it came from is considered valuable..?

The way people in the Dialogue I was a part of would express this agreement of the value of idea over ego was to try to talk about ideas without claiming ownership. They might attribute the idea to some author, etc. as if they were not related to the idea personally.

Why they wanted to bring the idea to the group was seldom mentioned, because that would reveal a sort of "ego" or attachment to the outcome of the conversation...which was supposed to also be suspended, according to their interpretation of Dialogue ideas of suspension. So we had this Dialogue for a long time which was every sort of name dropping, or a little shorthand for mentioning one idea after another by mentioning one author after another as the ideas went by fast and furiously. It wasn't very satisfying, because our conversations didn't go anywhere new. It was sort of an "information dump."

Then we talked about this experience, and eventually agreed we wanted to make the Dialogue less of a name-dropping event. So now each person who wanted to mention someone else's idea would most usefully offered an outline of what the related idea was for those who had not read that particular author. So that made us quite practiced at short book reviews, dragged out the dictionary, etc. We learned some history, but still - that wasn't so interesting because it didn't go anywhere new either. It was sort of an information dumping experience that could be sort of interesting, if you preferred learning about the topic.

Finally what we came to was to just drop the quoting, the book reviewing and claim the idea as ours - where ever it came from. Then, talking about where our values came from became very interesting.

Then we didn't have to go to some length to separate the "idea" from the person who is forming it. We began to learn from each other why any particular idea was valuable to someone and also, why a person is bringing it to the attention of others now in the group.

We even got to the point where we learned some of the core experiences from where these values sprang. That's when we began to really appreciate some of the Conative (motive-style) thinking strategies of each of the others in the Dialogue that were often quite different from our own. The effect of all this was we stopped questioning the validity of whatever someone said, along with many of us stopping the urge to convince, explain or defend ourselves. This was pretty amazing to see, as it evolved into happening.

Some of us began to feel that each of us was a sort of archetype - so whenever anybody said something, it became sort of like the person was representing "me and all those people who think the way I do who have shared in common some of the experiences I have had." It even led me to search for people who had some of my own unique experiences as a child in common - and the results were fascinating.

Yes, leaving out personal pronouns makes what an author says sound authoritative. So no matter what other motive you have for leaving out personal pronouns, this is the culture understanding you'll be cultivating by writing like that. But putting pronouns of "I" in gives meaning and motive to a particular person.

So, now that I've said that, related to the effect of the personal pronouns, names, attributes to a person, etc. I'm going to ask a question. What I've just written frames this question in a certain way from the fact that it follows sequentially. If I ask, "why do you write so often about that particular idea? Where did the value of that particular idea come from in your past experiences? What does that intent to write without personal pronouns mean for you personally?" What I want to know is, why do you think I'm asking these personal questions?

It's pretty easy to flip the motive for suspicion or connection, by not knowing why someone is asking such a personal question like what I just asked. We ask many questions during Dialogue and while learning Alexander Technique. We might know that the person we're asking has a "thing" about using personal pronouns whenever he answers a question, or we might know the habit of someone who is trying to respond differently by using Alexander's ideas. That sort of a "personal" question can come from a positional attack with a motive of dissection or discrediting, or from a position of genuine curiosity and interest in who the person is and how they put the world together into thinking the way they do.

With email, it's difficult to tell the difference because there is no body language to add to meaning along with the question. So that is why I believe that stating motive is helpful in writing, because it frames the intent of why the question is being asked and what the asker is going to do with the information before it is disclosed.