My research has yielded the following early conversations:
Your cave or mine?.....Have I got a headache. You’re getting old. You’re 23…. Tomorrow, you hunt and I’ll gather…...Gimme that rock.
The above was said around the fire with a series of grunts and gesticulations. Nothing much has changed. The greatest leap forward was Edison’s invention of, Hello. Prior to Hello people didn’t know how to break the ice and the Ice Age ended a week ago Thursday. Now they say What’s happening? or just Hey.
Marina Abramovits, the conceptual artist, conversed wordlessly, or rather communed with folks from one minute to several hours as they wished. This took place at the Museum of Modern Art last month. A friend of ours waited in line for seven hours to have her audience. A few seconds of eye contact brought tears to both their eyes.
This points to the wide spectrum of conversation possible; from non-verbal communication to non-communicative verbiage. So much can be expressed through our eyes, facial gestures and body language. Even in normal discourse silence is essential. As the old adage goes………If you have nothing to say the very least you can do is shut up.
On the other hand one wonders that so little can be said in so many words. How many times have I overheard a monologue in a restaurant where two or three people are seated at a nearby table and only one voice is audible?
Mark Twain once said that a man’s character can be learned from the adjectives he uses. I agree words are important. A friend won’t order a salad unless the menu describes at least one ingredient as being drizzled on. A good conversation is more than chatter. It is a spontaneous poem, a semi-controlled ramble. Authentic voices leaping without self-censure. The mind makes its own tracing as it dips and doubles back then segues into left field.
I confess I have experienced myself barely, but politely, listening to a friend, waiting for my turn to say something brilliant or clever. Of course in recent years I’m more likely to forget when it’s my turn ….. only to remember in the car on my way home.
I think I’m getting better at it. I like listening, even to old jokes when told well. I enjoy the teller enjoying himself tell it. Just like those complaining cave dwellers a chunk of time must be allotted to our misbegotten bodies. Why not? It’s the only one we’ll ever have except for those replacement parts. And we can form an emotional attachment to them, too. Tell me about your new hip. I’m here for you.