the uncertainty principle…

When I was younger, it never occurred to me that most of what I said might not ‘get through’ to the other person. Similarly, I believed that I understood most of what was said to me. I no longer feel that way. Now it seems to me that thoughts survive the leap from one person to another only very rarely. Mostly, we are islands to each other.

I do not see this as a cause for despair, but something that, in the accepting of, allows us to be more merciful to others and to ourselves. For, if you believe that communication is normally clear and possible then, when others misunderstand you, it is either because of some grave fault on your part, or else something deliberately perverse on theirs. Neither conclusion is likely to lead to happiness. By instead accepting that communication is a distant semaphore through mist, or rain or blustery weather, I neither give myself unreasonable expectations of what I can express, nor blame others for not understanding me…

Posted by Ricardo

writer and blogger

4 Replies to “the uncertainty principle…”

  1. Yes, language isn’t some abstract distinct structure; its immanent and built into both our bodies physically, the verbalized words, values, and most things human-made/associated.

    Even if the idea of imagination being as an entirely personal experience, there are times where one feels a bond with someone else, even if for a brief moment. Perhaps it’s like two blind fish swimming in the sea (the space previously described) – you can sense or (as I understand it, since lots of fish can) hear another, which is a comforting feeling. There’s value in that feeling. While I personally like to rationalize a lot and explain things away with theory, value still comes for me in the things that can’t be explained away, but felt profoundly.

    Even if we are separated islands, we can feel the waves that go between us, even if the messages they send are totally gargled. 😛


    1. I agree with you about how omnipresent language is (actually have a notion about how to apply it to vision that I will write about here sometime soon and that might tickle you *grin*)

      I couldn’t agree more about the waves between us. Music seems to me an example of where we can sit side by side, bathed in its ripples, feeling the same things, and knowing that we feel the same things… and example, perhaps, of your “things that can’t be explained away, but felt profoundly”…


  2. I like to think of words as locuses of spheres of ideas, and while they’re spoken on one side of the nebulous sphere, the receiving side might be on another end. Nonetheless, it’s the same word, and to imagine a sentence or stream of sentences. ^^

    On a good day, it seems isolating, but the space is often more interesting than the point I would think -ti’s where imagination lies.


    1. ah, yes, but communication rarely consists of a single word… and, on top of the bagginess you describe, meaning can fall through the cracks in between the words… It seems to me that language is far more ambiguous than we care to think… And, clearly, as the misinterpretations that are rife in email exchanges, even the word by themselves are not enough – you need tone, expression, context, knowledge of the other, mood of the listener etc… this leaves a LOT of space for misunderstanding…

      you’re right about imagination, but consider if it is not the case that imagination is entirely a personal experience…


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