Sunday, 23 July 2006

The time has come

to finally talk of many things...

In a recent Maclean's article, Stephen Miller, the author of the book, Conversation: A History of a Declining Art was interviewed. As far as I can tell from the article, his book is a rather depressing account of how any meaningful conversation is becoming a rare commodity in modern society, plagued both by excessive electronic interaction and the "Oprah-ization" of conversation, in which a conversation consists of one person "sharing" and the other person being supportive.

I think it makes conversation impossible, because when people use the word "share" - after all when you share some food with someone the person isn't supposed to say, "Oh, thanks for giving me this pie, but it's terrible, I don't like it" - it just casts a blanket of excessive politeness on the conversation, and then disagreement is seen as a personal attack.

This hit a nerve. How often have I felt compelled to listen to someone spouting what I considered absolute nonsense - and all too frequently dangerous nonsense - and yet felt unable to say a word, knowing that any such word would be taken as highly offensive? It's a Catch-22. I really don't want to be seen as endorsing what has just been said, for varying reasons of varying intensity, yet I feel that speaking up will be counter-productive. I am not going to win anyone over to another way of thinking if I am seen as an oaf and a jerk for not being "supportive".

And how often have I seen in the eyes of a listener (or worse yet, missed it) that he or she just isn't buying it, but that there is no way they will say a word because they fear conflict? I would so much prefer it that they question me. How else are we going to learn from each other?

Hence this blog.

Here I am going to say all the things that "polite society" normally compells me to keep under wraps. I will take controversial stands if it suits me and I will - more rarely - go along with majority opinions when they make sense to me.

You are invited to join me in this not-so-polite society by agreeing, challenging, opposing, expanding or questioning. I won't take it as a personal attack. Unless, of course, it is, in which case I will delete it shamelessly. Profanity and genuinely offensive stuff will also get sent straight to File 13. Everything else will be interpreted as an attempt to come to a better understanding together.

As the title of this blog suggests, I will speak of many things: ideas, movies, books, social controversies, and just about anything else that catches my attention and seems to be worthy of mention or debate. I hope you will consider some of them worthy of conversation.

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Anne Dixon-Mahatoo said...


I'm up for this idea. It's definitely time to mention that the Emperor has no clothes!

Katamat ... from Canadian Gardening

Janet said...

Anne, welcome aboard! Here's to many hearty and civilized disagreements! ;o)


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