2008.08.17 13:00 - Space, attention and language

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    The guardian for this meeting was Maxine Walden.  All the comments are hers.

    As I got to the Pavilion I met Doug and we spent a bit of time getting seated and comfortable. Then Quilty joined us.

    Maxine Walden: hi, Doug
    doug Sosa: hi.
    doug Sosa: can't seem to be here properly. ok, better.
    Maxine Walden: ah, there you are
    doug Sosa: yes. i'll move.
    doug Sosa: better.
    Maxine Walden: the spacing in the group...yes i know
    doug Sosa: remind me how i change how i sit..
    Maxine Walden: oh?
    Maxine Walden: hi, Quilty
    doug Sosa: yes, not with legs to the side..
    Quilty Bookmite: Hi Maxine and Doug.
    Quilty Bookmite: Just click on the cushion.
    doug Sosa: ah, thanks!, whe, much better.

    Quilty noticed Tomo standing outside the Pavilion and an interesting to and fro occurred because for a while neither doug nor I saw him. We began to wonder about different realities.

    Quilty Bookmite: Hi Tomo
    doug Sosa: Hi quilty.
    Maxine Walden: feeling the pains of your avatar?
    doug Sosa: tomo?
    Quilty Bookmite: I hope not. I can;t sit cross legged in RL. :-)
    Maxine Walden: oh, sorry, misunderstood
    Quilty Bookmite: Tomo is to your right Doug.
    Maxine Walden: actually, Quilty I can't see Tomo either
    Quilty Bookmite: He's behind you Maxine. Outside.
    doug Sosa: live and learn :)
    Quilty Bookmite: Maybe he is a Tomo of the mind. :-)
    Maxine Walden: ah, thanks Quilty, out of my perspective til you mentioned otherwise
    Quilty Bookmite: Looks frozen.
    Maxine Walden: ? Quilty?
    Quilty Bookmite: Yes Maxine?
    Maxine Walden: looks frozen?
    Quilty Bookmite: Tomo. I'm going ot ignore him until he moves. :-)
    doug Sosa: does he?

    Noticing that attention was drawn away from our conversation to something outside the Pavilion, I decide to comment

    Maxine Walden: ah, our attention drawn away from our group here
    Quilty Bookmite: Yes.
    Maxine Walden: I am aware of that pull sometimes to pay attention to other than what might the reality of the moment...matter of balance perhaps
    Maxine Walden: the reality of the moment for me
    Quilty Bookmite: I am all attention. :-)
    Maxine Walden: no, no, hope it didn't wound scolding, just an observation
    Quilty Bookmite: Not at all Maxine.
    Maxine Walden: sound scolding

    Tomo then joins us in the Pavilion remaining standing for what seemed like several minutes

    Maxine Walden: hi, Tomo
    Quilty Bookmite: Hi Tomo.
    Tomo Yuitza: good evening
    doug Sosa: tomo does move :)
    Tomo Yuitza: twas only the vessel that was in stasis
    Quilty Bookmite: Glad to hear it Tomo.
    Maxine Walden: care to join us?

    Quilty and I then begin a duet involving our memories of a previous session together, I believe my last session as guardian a week ago, and at first I have trouble recalling what he was referring to; slowly over the minutes I recall more clearly and interestingly have a very different memory of the events of the moments he was citing.

    Quilty Bookmite: Maxine, I owe you an apology...
    Maxine Walden: oh, Quilty?
    Quilty Bookmite: Last time we met in chat the conversation got rather carried away and you were ignored. I was partly responsible.
    Quilty Bookmite: Sorry about that.
    Maxine Walden: oh, you know I only have a dim memory...don't really recall it, but thanks for your sensitivity
    Quilty Bookmite: It wasn't very mindful of me.
    Maxine Walden: oh, the ins and outs of mindfulness are amazing to experience, at least for me
    Quilty Bookmite: Yes. Me too. :-)
    Maxine Walden: sometimes a conversation really takes off in a certain direction and it just goes...
    Quilty Bookmite: It doesn;t excuse just being ignored though.
    Maxine Walden: May I ask, Quilty, what you recall about that, my being ignored, so i can appreciate your experience?
    Quilty Bookmite: You were asking an important question of someone and not getting a response because they were engaged in conversation with me.
    Maxine Walden: ah...and yet the conversation was focussed on you, and maybe i was a bit out of step with my question
    Quilty Bookmite: Not at all. You were asking the person if it was OK for their words to go online.

    I am just about to twig on clear memory of the vignette that Quilty was referring to

    Maxine Walden: I often wonder about the timing of my questions, etc when it might change the focus of the discussion...oh, yes, now I recall better, it was at the end of the conversation..
    Maxine Walden: and to my memory that person never really answered me; you know...
    Quilty Bookmite: :-)
    Maxine Walden: my memory is that he was not interested in what my task was, but rather in what else was going on in the room; I took that whole little vignette
    Maxine Walden: as one of the things the guardian just experiences, housekeeping that others may not be at all interested in
    Maxine Walden: sorry if you took it personally, I did not feel you were at 'fault' at all
    Quilty Bookmite: I didn't take anything personally. :-)
    Maxine Walden: OK, interesting how memories of these things may linger, though, isn't it?

    As I read through this log I note how 'chatty' I was -- noting how memory distorts, how off the mark I may have been -- such that I was not leaving much space for Quilty's clear feeling of pain in his not feeling mindful as he re-read the log from a week ago. I felt informed that in my effort to align with his view I did not really hear what he was saying. Another example of how 'space' may be so valuable when I am not quite sure what the other is trying to say.

    Quilty Bookmite: I didn't help the situation though and was surprised how oblivious I was when I read the transcript.
    Maxine Walden: oh, I see; that must have been interesting, or as you say surprising
    Quilty Bookmite: :-)

    Our attention turned to how deeply focussed attention can obliterate the goings on just outside of that focus.

    Maxine Walden: Your thoughts remind me how absorbed I can get in what I am interested in, and may completely miss something else going on right beside me...as it were
    Maxine Walden: it can be difficult to remain open when something really captures attention
    Quilty Bookmite: Yes, I kmow the feeling. I can get very focussed and sometimes become aware that someone has spoken to me but have no idea what they said.
    Maxine Walden: right,

    Perhaps because of what we just said, I noticed that neither doug nor Tomo had spoken for awhile and wanted to make sure I was not overlooking them in any way.

    Maxine Walden: I am aware neither doug nor Tomo have said anything for awhile
    Quilty Bookmite: :-)

    Interestingly the topic of 'space' comes back into the conversation. And we play with its different meanings a bit

    Quilty Bookmite: Are we stopping them speaking or just filling empty space?
    Tomo Yuitza looks up
    Tomo Yuitza: 'empty' space?
    Quilty Bookmite: I mean, if we weren't talking would it just be silent?
    Maxine Walden: I was not thinking of it as empty space either,
    Quilty Bookmite: There's no such thing as a perfect vacuum. :-)

    Tomo offers the meaningful suggestion that silence is not an absence but a presence, a very interesting thought to pursue

    Tomo Yuitza: is silence just an absence of sound? or is silence a presence that speaks louder than all?
    Maxine Walden: Sounds as if you think it the latter, Tomo
    Maxine Walden: which is a poetic thought

    But as doug turns his attention back to our conversation the thread turns back to the focus or activity which shuts other things out

    doug Sosa: sorry to tune out, ineresting phonecall...
    Quilty Bookmite: NP Doug.
    Maxine Walden: actually your phone call fits in with what Quilty and I were speaking about, conversation that focusses and thus by its nature shuts othaer things out
    doug Sosa: i was just giving you practivce by being an empty space :)
    Maxine Walden: lol
    Quilty Bookmite: I have heard it referred to as a fugue state
    doug Sosa: It isamazing how language shuts out, whereas a great writer uses it to open up.
    Quilty Bookmite: It is the same thing when someone gets really upset and doesn't listen to what people are saying to them.
    Maxine Walden: yes, doug, does it have to do with the perspective of the speaker, the user of the language?
    doug Sosa: it must take both. i mean we get seduced by weak language almost as much as the good.
    Maxine Walden: yes, Quilty, the upset that shuts out all else

    The thread of conversation seemed to be turning to language and perhaps its effect upon inclusion/exclusion, and of course the impact of the speakers/listeners upon that process

    Maxine Walden: please say more, doug, about seduced by weak language
    doug Sosa: In the 9 sec i've found moments where yes I am the cloud of disruption, the upset, and let being see me, and its kind of interesting.
    doug Sosa: Back to seduced..

    Asked to clarify, doug suggests that language can be live or dead and Quilty and I seek clarification

    doug Sosa: we think we speak, or hear, but often the language has a life of its own.
    doug Sosa: and not always a good one, kin of mechancical.
    doug Sosa: "kind"
    Maxine Walden: lifeless language?
    doug Sosa: yes!
    Quilty Bookmite: I'm not sure I understand.
    Maxine Walden: when I fill empty space maybe i am resorting to lifeless language to some extent?
    doug Sosa: Or the language uses us.
    Maxine Walden: is that close to what you mean, or maybe not
    Maxine Walden: oh, the language uses us....hmmm
    Quilty Bookmite: Can you give an example Doug?
    doug Sosa: "Our car boiled over again just as my mother and I crossed te Continental Divide."
    doug Sosa: that is alive language.

    Tomo now spoke about language as a tool which may detract from communication and communion, and his thread extended doug's example of 'dead language'. Doug had to go a few moments later.

    Tomo Yuitza: language is but a tool. when dawn rose fresh and rosy-fingered on humanity, our pre-literate 'selves' were surely more dexterous in their communication with all, and not just a 'species'
    doug Sosa: "How were things at school today?" "Fine" is an example of dead language.
    Quilty Bookmite: I see. You mean just going through some protocol of discussion?
    Quilty Bookmite: Not conveying any information?
    doug Sosa: yea, early langauge must have ben tonal, expressive..
    doug Sosa: Information - my bias - is fairly dead.
    Maxine Walden: And Tomo, are you suggesting that language may not convey all the rich experience/emotion as previously perhaps?
    Tomo Yuitza: when we use tools, we remove our hands from that with which we seek to commune
    doug Sosa: I like that... hey, sorry, gotta go. :)
    Quilty Bookmite: Bye Doug.

    As we were saying goodbye to doug, Quilty and I continued to wonder whether all tools were detract from vital experience, as it seemed Tomo was suggesting. In fact, Quilty and I offer pleas for certain functions or potential functions of language linked with attention

    Maxine Walden: We may do so, but do you think all tools do that? Bye Doug
    Quilty Bookmite: Without tools we achieve so much less.
    Maxine Walden: Tools may distance us from direct experience, but perhaps do not have to do so, if we remain aware of the potential loss
    Tomo Yuitza: what is there to achieve, aside from unity?
    Quilty Bookmite: Does our use of tools distance us from that unity?
    Maxine Walden: do you think that internal discourse, or with loved ones, using language, is a minimal thing?
    Quilty Bookmite: We are currently using a sophisticated tool to communicate. I accept that a lot is lost by using that tool but without it we can't communicate.
    Tomo Yuitza: but then, this is a tool that we can do without
    Quilty Bookmite: Indeed.
    Maxine Walden: I am beginning to think that there is a much more subtle way to 'let language inform us' than we might normally consider. To go for openness, not closing the circle, getting the answer, narrowing the view, but that would take care and respect for each person and indeed for the unknown
    Maxine Walden: to listen, respond without 'the answer' but appreciating the process of to and fro, amidst respect
    Maxine Walden: and appreciating that the dialogue itself may inform very subtly in ways we might not know about immediately

    Reflecting upon the conversation I think that Tomo and I were beginning to align points of view, that language as a narrow 'answer getter' detracts from creative exploration, and I felt conflicted that I had then some housekeeping chores as guardian to do now nearly an hour into our talk.

    Tomo Yuitza: perhaps ther is no question...
    Tomo Yuitza: and yet we put a barrier in our way, of finding this 'answer'
    Maxine Walden: not sure I follow, Tomo, and I would like to
    Quilty Bookmite: Which barrier are you referring to?
    Tomo Yuitza: if a flower sprouts in the woods who is the most likely to find it - the man who looks, or the man who doesn't
    Maxine Walden: Tomo, I just need to mention that I will be taking this chatlog and want to ask if you are OK with your conversation here in SL being on the chatlog?
    Tomo Yuitza: no problem
    Maxine Walden: great, I can stay a couple of more minutes and then will need to go as I have another meeting at 2pmSL
    Quilty Bookmite: I need to go then anyway.

    I smile as I look upon my going a bit concrete at this point, in my question to Tomo; I think that spanning the abstract nature of our conversation on language and the concrete housekeeping chores was a wider span than my mind could easily do at this point.

    Maxine Walden: are you suggesting Tomo that using language means that we are not looking for the fresh sprouts of spring?
    Tomo Yuitza: both are in the woods, and have eyes
    Tomo Yuitza: the knowledge that a flower exists does not mean it will be found first
    Maxine Walden: interesting to ponder and I will. Right now i must go so will do the housekeeping things I need to, taking the chatlog, and look forward to continuing this conversation in the future.
    Maxine Walden: Bye for now
    Tomo Yuitza: take care
    Quilty Bookmite: Me too. Thank you.

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