Sunday, 6 December 2009

I do not have the right to communicate.

Everyone has the right to a means of communication. I do not have the right to communicate. Yes, there is a difference. I have to remember that.

The thing that marks us out from other animals is our capacity for complex communication. We can teach chimpanzees sign language and they may even initiate some apparently new (to them) messages. Even if that happens they are not going to do the mathematical calculations to get another chimpanzee to the moon.

If we do not give people the right to a means of communication then we fail to acknowledge them as human beings. If we try to restrict ways and means of communicating then we fail to acknowledge them as human beings. My entire working life has been taken up, one way or another, with the right to a means of communication.

That does not mean any of us have the right to communicate. Communication is a two way process. It requires a sender and a receiver. It involves choice. If we choose to offer communication then we have a responsibility to do the very best we can to make others understand what we are trying to communicate. If we choose to receive communication then we have a duty to do our best to understand the message which is being delivered.
There will always be a barrier, marker, a point, a space, something, between sending and receiving. My experience is not your experience. When you read what I write you will be reading something different from what I am writing. What matters is whether we can share something between my writing and your reading. The more we can share the closer we can come to understanding. Good writing is a shared experience.

There are also good manners. If, by virtue of your occupation, you invite others to communicate then you have a duty to acknowledge the presence of the invitee. Failure to do that is failure to do the job. Acknowledgment can be brief and even dismissive but, without it, communication has failed. You have failed to acknowledge someone else as human.

Heavy duty Philosophy 101 over for the day. I am going to do the housework so I can do some real writing later.


Rachel Fenton said...

Not much communicating gone on in this comments box, is there? :) Were you angry or indifferent when you wrote this post? You don't have to answer, I like guessing. Your "Cat" has become a character in a novel to me...always wondering what she'll be up to/against next..

catdownunder said...

Fed up? I don't know. I had Nicola Morgan on my back - but that was my fault as I had failed to communicate properly.
It is this 'get an agent' and 'send it to a publisher' bit. Then you go ahead and obey all the rules they lay down in their websites (and do all the thngs Nicola says are good) and - you get NO response at all. You are totally ignored. You do not exist.
Now I know Holly - probably any of you - would read something for me but I want to keep you as friends and let a total stranger be the one to be devastatingly honest and say "Give up. It's a disaster." (Of course they might be nice and say, "Try again.")