The Art of Communication

The Art of Communication


The art of communication is a cliche that gets a lot of attention from the world of self help and academia. Problems are talked about incessantly in the ology world of Universities and Colleges. Sometimes these problems become a cliche of themselves and the conversations metamorpihize into vagueness and cliches. I find this to be an annoying part of the formal world of academics and it bugs me.

This formal type of communication can quickly become a bore and feel empty to the average person. Franz Kafka famously made this sort of feeling a novella where a salesman turns into a cockroach overnight. He quickly realizes the emptiness of his work life and his family continues living their lives as if their loved one did not just suddenly turn into an insect overnight. His family stops feeding him and he ends up realizing the emptiness of his own existence and dies of starvation. The end of the book is his family going on a picnic and gossiping about finding his widowed wife a new husband.

My formal journey in the art of communication began about 15 years ago after I graduated High School. I enrolled in my local community college and began studying American politics and International Relations. About a year later I heard about the success of my school’s intercollegiate debate team and joined up. I was fairly successful at 19 as a debater and participated in tournaments around the country for about 3 years. The formal and academic world of forensic debate is also a mentally ill world of communication.

Every day there are students in the United States of America who debate the policy issues of our present times at auctioneer speed. They use a code of words that only is important to the people in that world and far less important to people outside of that world. I did find the competitive aspect of that experience to be useful and it gave me an appreciation of words and the meaning of them. The formal study of logic and the mental stress of having to come up with a rebuttal on the spot is also a skill that has proved helpful to my mental health as I have aged.

The art of rhetoric or public speaking; is also a skill that I continue to enjoy practicing as a YouTube personality where I discuss topics in the news that interest me. It something that I do for myself and that I enjoy doing. However; my creative psychology can at times be mentally ill when it comes to time. I was participating in debate tournaments in 2007 around the same time Youtube began as a platform. Logically it would have made perfect sense for me to also begin posting random videos on Youtube during that time as a college student. However, it took me about a dozen years to connect that dot. I guess its better late than never.

The arts of communication has been written about by far better and far more famous writers than I. There is no doubt in my mind that my small contribution to the writing about words and communication is not even a drop in the ocean of writing and discussions about communication that have occurred throughout History. What follows is a brief description of what is the “ideal” form of communication for success in life.

Our individual style of communication begins at birth. Most people’s first words are “Mom” because it is easy to say and usually moms are the people that babies see the most of in the first few months of life. Individual people then pick up on the communication of their parents and peers which forms a system of thoughts, feelings, and beliefs that can be referred to as an individual’s psychology.

That is a descriptive way of saying that there is psychology in the words we choose to say out of our mouths using our breath.

The roots of the word psychology are twofold. The Greek word psyche means: soul, mind, spirit. And the word ology is rooted in the word logos which one of the three pillars of rhetoric meaning logic. Combined together it means the logical study of the mind, soul, and spirit.

A basic google search could have told you that information which you probably already knew. The writing you just read would be considered a formal or academic way of putting words together to form thoughts and ideas. What follows below would be considered an informal or vulgar way of putting words together to form thoughts and ideas. I will however be using the same word psychology and sticking to the same Greek roots.

I am writing this section of the book on Groundhog Day 2022 a couple weeks before Valentine’s Day. I mention this only because my social media feed is about to be bombarded with cupids and reminders about relationships and love. In short the entire commercial world in the USA is about to turn into a mythical land of hearts and chocolate kisses. I blame Hershey Pennsylvania for this one.

Like all great things about capitalism and all great holidays like Christmas. Valentine’s Day began with a fantastic story about Love and family. And I am not talking about St. Valentine.

Ancient Greece had many mythical stories about the gods and goddesses of Mt. Olympus. One such story is the story of Cupid and Psyche. It is a story that has jealousy, envy, Love, communication, sex, death, and a happy ending. The gist of the story is as follows.

There was once a young woman of extraordinary beauty who was one of three sisters to a King. Her name was Psyche and she was worshipped by the public as the second coming of Venus.

Hearing of this blasphemy Venus sends her son Cupid to shoot her with an arrow so that she will fall desperately in love with someone ugly and hideous. Cupid goes on his mission but after seeing Psyche he chooses to prick himself with his own arrow and falls desperately in love with Psyche.

A few years pass and Psyche’s sisters marry; but Psyche has yet to find love and marriage. Her father goes to an oracle who tells him that she is to go to the top of a mountain where she will be married by a god from the underworld. Psyche was to be the wife of a serpent like Greek god. So she goes to the top of the mountain where she is whisked off by the God of the west wind to a magical palace in the sky.

This palace is full of luxury and is a dream place that has everything she could ever want. That night she is summoned to the bedroom and deep voice of a man asks her to get comfortable. The man is her husband and they have sex for the first time. Psyche however can not see her husband in the dark and he leaves in the morning.

The following days, weeks, and months proceed in the same fashion. She hangs out in a heavenly palace during the day and at night returns to bed and has sex with her husband who she can not see. She looks forward to these nights and eventually falls in love. Psyche’s husband puts the condition of the marriage on the request that Psyche never ask who he was or ever see who he is. Eventually Psyche becomes pregnant.

After a night of lovemaking Psyche decides that she has to see who her husband was. She takes an oil lamp and sneaks up to her sleeping husband. What she sees is the most beautiful man she has ever seen, the god Cupid. Being startled she drops the oil lamp and burns Cupid. Cupid informs her that Gods and humans can not be together but that he has been in love with her for a very long time. The marriage can not continue because Gods and humans can not be in love with each other. Cupid leaves.

The jealous Venus then tricks Psyche by saying that Cupid and her can be together so long as she completes three impossible tasks.

The first task was to sort a pile of seeds in a single night. She begins working but the task seems to be too much for her to do alone. She gives up and desperation begins to cry. Hearing this an ant colony takes pity on her and sorts the seeds for her thereby completing her first impossible mission.

Her next task was to capture fleece of a golden sheep who was in the habit of killing anyone who tried catching it. Her plan was to go drown herself instead of attempting the task. As she approached the river a divine spirit showed her how to collect the wool from the golden sheep that was left on the reeds and brush near the river. She collected the fleece thereby completing her second impossible mission.

For her third task Venus gives her a crystal vessel and tells Psyche to fill with black water from two rivers that form a canyon that was surrounded by dragons. As she approached the cliff and descended into the canyon to collect the water the dragons began slithering around her. Taking pity on her Jupiter sends his eagle to fight the dragons allowing her to collect the water and escape unharmed thereby completing her third impossible mission.

Venus then sends Psyche on a final mission to the underworld. Venus claims that her beauty has faded as she has been caring for her son Cupid and healing him from the oil lamp burn. She wants to attend the theater and look her best in front of the other gods. So she asks Psyche to get a drop of beauty from Proserpina the queen of the dead and put it into a box. Again Psyche approaches a cliff to the underworld with the plan of jumping off until suddenly the tower begins talking to her. The tower then tells her of a safe way to get to the underworld by paying the boatman and bringing gifts to the dogs. She does this and collects a drop of beauty from Proserpina and puts it into the box. As she returns from the underworld she is hit but a sudden burst of curiosity. She decides to open the box believing that it will enhance her own beauty. Instead she finds a trick that puts her in a deep sleep.

Cupid having been in the home of Venus the entire time healing and also being a prisoner of sorts to Venus finally escapes. He finds Psyche asleep. Cupid then heals Psyche from her deep sleep and sends Psyche off to Venus with the box competing her final task.

Meanwhile Cupid decides to take his marital problem and in law drama to a higher authority. He goes and finds Zeus and asks him for his blessing in marriage to Psyche. Zeus grants his blessing in return for Cupid’s future help if Zeus finds a maiden. Upon this news Cupid asks the other gods to gather at the theater and formally marry Psyche. Zeus publicly gives his blessing and tells Venus to knock it off, he then gives Psyche the drink of ambrosia thereby making her immortal.

Cupid and Psyche become parents to a daughter they name Pleasure and live happily ever after.

The story of Psyche and Cupid is at least 2,000 years old. The story has influenced the world of art in history and was fairly popular in Paris around the time of the French Revolution. There are many famous works of art showing scenes and events from this story. However, a 21st century American interpretation of the story might trigger a rush of emotional feelings in some people. Some might consider Cupid to be a kidnapper and a rapist and Psyche to be immature, submissive, and incompetent instead of strong willed and courageous.

As a writer I purposely used more cliches in that passage. The paragraphs were shorter then they were at the beginning of this chapter. It has a structure of a story with a beginning, middle, and end. Instead of reading like a textbook like the beginning of this chapter. The story involves topics such as sex, love, adventure which is very much part of life but exists outside the confines of the classroom and office. The story is also useful to know for people because it is some lost history that many people probably don’t know about. The nature of the story of Cupid, Psyche, and Pleasure is also one of gossip. The story in short is both vulgar and informal but also uses the same root word of Psyche and proceeds in a logical way. There is psychology in the usage of this kind of communication.

As a writer I study the proper use of words and how they should be put together in the textbook kind of way. I also find it to be a bore and not the best form of communication. What follows is a good metaphor taken from my everyday life currently that explains the proper structure of good communication.

I am fortunate enough to have moved in this pandemic to a new neighborhood that is currently being built. I am the first person to have lived in my current house. I mention this because I have been lucky enough to witness the process of building a home everyday since I have moved in. I also visited my current home many times while it was being constructed. I can think of no better metaphor to use than the home to explain the art of communication.

There are countless tasks that need to be finished in order to build and construct a home. From beginning to end the construction of a home takes about 8-10 months in my neighborhood. I have found that it can be broken up into three different phases of construction.

An individual’s usage of words can also be grouped together into three different ways. Common conversations among people such as gossip, shoptalk, slang, localisms, idioms, cliches, pillow talk, and metaphors are known as Vulgate language. This kind of communication exists primarily inside the home and is private and not meant for the prying eyes of the public. In the 21st century the internet is an ocean of this kind of language and writing. Buzz feed is famous for its constant use of internet slang taken from peoples use of social media.

Vulgate language and the conversations that primarily take place in this grouping of words are akin to the nuts, bolts, screws, wood, insulation, and plumbing of a home. We know they exist but we can not see them even though we use them everyday. Without this kind of language nothing else can get done because it is what holds our conversations together.

Informal language is the language of newspapers, books, press releases meant of public use, fiction, plays, stories, magazines, and current affairs. Informal language is used by people who understand the proper use of language is supposed to change depending on the company that is present. It is the chamber of commerce and business side of the English language.

Informal language as it pertains to the home would be like the AC and Heating system, solar panels, Wi-Fi, cable, electricity, the real estate agents, sales agents, mortgage brokers, and financing of the loan. If you pay a bill for it than it falls into the informal category.

Formal language the usage of language of academics and scientists. It is the fancy language of the universities and for writers and readers of books like Ulysses (not the app but the book). It also is a form of communication used by high society types.

My home does not have an equivalent metaphorical thing for this kind of language. I would look to homes in West Egg Long Island or Park Place for a metaphor that works.

That is a generic way of describing the proper use of language and communication. Ideally an individual would understand the proper use of informal language because mastering its usage can lead to more success. It is public and business centric use of words that is separate from the personal vulgar form of communication. Polite society tends to look down on the vulgar form of language even though it is the most common form of language used.

One final slightly different way of looking at the English language is to be more specific and mindful of the use of words. There are primarily three different groupings of words in the English Language.

Like a home there are foundational words in English that have specific definitions that tend not to change. Words like Chair, Desk, Concrete, Parent, Child, Family are words that everybody understand and do not need to be defined because everyone already knows what they mean. These words are like the first phase of constructing a home. First clear the land, then layout the foundation, trench the pipes, lay down the plumbing below ground, and finally pour the concrete foundation the home is to be built on top of.

The second grouping of words people use are words that describe relationships between things. They are known as relative words. These words have common understanding and more or less a common definitions but also vary depending on the user of the word and place of its usage. These words exist on a spectrum. Words like light, sane, insane, society, feminism, race, patriarchy, warm, cold, red, green, yellow, color, white, black. All exist on a spectrum where the meaning changes depending on the usage of the other words around it that give it context.

For example: as a photographer I understand that exposure in the context of art is a relative word used to describe the spectrum of light and dark areas in a photograph. A “Good” exposure would have a nice looking mix of dark and light areas which would give the photograph balance. The same principals of exposure apply to color photographs and the shades of colors. An image that is nothing but the color red is unappealing to the eye. Whereas a red rose against a blue sky gives the eye a more pleasurable experience because it is a better exposure and composition.

That paragraph was written while I was thinking about my experience as a photographer. The following paragraph is me thinking about my experience in government but also using similar words and other words that give those words different context.

Many people see the 21st century in black, white, and color. We group people together and use a rhetoric in the news that defines what it means to be light or dark or colored or not. The gossip and talk about NASCAR Races has become a political statement about color and racism in our times. One side is attempting to expose the darkness that exists in the shadows of society and highlight their individuality and uniqueness. The other side is cold hearted, critical, judgmental, opinionated, vulgar, loud, and mean spirited.

The structure of that paragraph remains rooted in the art of photography. I used words like highlight and shadow, light and dark, expose, individuality, loud, vulgar, judgements, and critical. All of those words are common in the world of art and within the context of art all of those words are relative to the work of art being described.

However that paragraph can also be read as a political statement about our times with the intent of envoking a feeling or reaction from the reader. The context is completely different even though the words are the same. These words that change meaning depending on the context.

The context driven meaning of these words is like the second phase of building a home. A home can’t be painted until the walls are put up and insulation installed. The walls can’t be put up before the foundation is laid down. The internal mechanicals of the home have to be installed after the walls and roof are built but before the installation of the appliances and furnishing. There is a process to building a home just like there is process in the use of relative words.

That paragraph also functions in this chapter as a good transition to the third and final grouping of words.

Abstract and vague words are also prevalent among our conversations. Words like Freedom, Society, America, War, Inequality, Wealth, Climate Change, Political Correctness, Religion, God, and others are abstract words that are subjective to each individual’s experience. Their definitions are more difficult to define and are not easily described. I have found form my own experience that the usage of vagueness and abstract words can give me a good feeling at times. However the over usage of abstract and vague words can also give me a horrendous feeling because I feel like the conversation should return to specific concrete words or the slightly less vague world of relative words which are driven by context.

Vagueness is like the third and final stage of building a home. The final couple weeks of building a home is a mad house of activity. The drywall goes up over the studs of the wall, followed quickly by the carpet and tile, right behind them there are people installing the cabinets and counters. The garage door comes next followed by the painters. Oddly enough the final 2 weeks of building a home is all the stuff that I see and use everyday in the home. I see the paint inside and out, I use the cabinets everyday along with the garage door and walk on the carpet. Vagueness and abstract words are doorways in communication. We use theme everyday and walk though them without noticing them all the time. And just like most internal doorways of the home they are all the same size. 80 inches high. The other 20% is subjective and is dependent on our individual experience and beliefs.

To conclude this chapter on communication I just want to express the idea that the freedom of speech in my opinion is America’s greatest gift. People should not be worried about not expressing their speech or their beliefs out of fear from society and academia. The word Freedom does appear in our constitution right before the words of and speech. It is the art of speech that I find to be fascinating. There is no right or wrong way to communicate just better ideas to inspire our communication to be more effective. There are limits to our freedom of speech. For example it is illegal to use speech in such a way that puts another person’s life in danger. That is a mentally ill and criminal form of speech that should not be used because it is illegal. It is not illegal to be mentally ill and excessively use vague and abstract words. People have the right to a freedom of speech. It also is not illegal to be mentally ill and excessively use vulgar and mean words. People have the right to a freedom of speech.

As the cliche goes “Sticks and Stones may Break my Bones but Words Can’t Hurt Me.”

Luckily for us in the 21st century homes are no long built from sticks and stones.

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