Sunday, September 27, 2015

When Conversation Becomes Dialogue

The Friday morning Meet-for-Coffee Group is for the major part composed of individuals cut from the same political patterns and preference from which you emerge.  Such outliers as there are tend to be closer to the center than your leftward position, but still on the left side of it.  

Political discussions at the Friday group and similar occasions are pretty much limited to more global events, arguments as such might be over which candidate in a primary election is the best choice to go against the opposition in the general election.

This climate evokes a rare irony.  You are not alone in your belief that political arguments are not any more likely to change another person's political choices than, by rhetoric and indications of technical and logical flaws, you are able to change another individual's reading tastes.  

There are times when a loaned book will cause a new taste to form or, conversely, warn you off subsequent titles from a recommended author whose work has failed to please you.

You remember between the act scenes in which you and your late wife were driving to some social event, perhaps even Friday morning coffee, in  which Anne would remind you, "S and R are okay, but not P," the initials being marital code for sex and religion are alright to discuss, but not politics.  Because it was usually she who did the warning, there was your constraint joy at the opportunity to remind her of one Libertarian friend with whom she was well advised to avoid discussions of politics.

The reason was always the same; discussion would turn into heated argument argument.  It is one thing to have a heated argument with a mate or a close friend, those are transactions paid for with a different kind of currency than the arguments with someone you know in advance is not going to change you, nor will any logic or fact from you cause any significant change in the person with the opposing view.

Another personal truth here; such moments of warning in the car and such moments when tempers are lost are in fact the underlying principals of story, characters with agenda, believing his or her judgment and information is correct.  Absent that significant confidence in being right, the participants believe as well that they could, with little effort, secure the information that would give them the confidence of being right.

The irony is that you are more likely to get into discussions leading to arguments with persons you are less close to, an irony that extends to the likelihood you will not enter this kind of discussion with a close friend.  Under most circumstances, that would be irony enough, something you could bring up in conversation with, say, the Friday morning coffee group, with every expectation of the laughter of what critical theorists would call catharsis.

This is true, in your view, because irony is a tricky business.  You may think you have exhausted a particular example of it, got your cathartic laughter from it, then moved on to the next round of  discussion.  In the Friday group, this means a momentary shift to the Marxist aspects of professional athletics, the irony of young men and women being exploited by league owners and the danger inherent of debilitating injury in many kinds of athleticism.

Then you get back to the irony you presumed was left for dead at the morgue, only to find out that the price of coffins or cremation has increased.  This irony has to do with the widespread belief that all actions--living, reading, and certainly writing, among them--have a meaning, that this meaning can be understood, translated, and conveyed.  The tail of this argument is that the conveyed meaning can be understood in meaningful terms.   

If you are not careful, this will cause you to trip on yet another irony, one in which, by expressing these talking points, you will be seen to be pessimistic or cynical, which will cause you to respond with an assertion that you are not, a maneuver you frequently use in story to demonstrate irony.  "What, cynical?  What, pessimism?  What you see before you is a positive man."

You will be sure to counted this line of dialogue with another, from the opposition.  "What I see is a defensive man."  At which point, the conversation is on its way to argument.  "What, defensive?  Just tell me one defensive thing."

"Well, for instance, you're raising your voice."

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