Thursday, April 20, 2006

If I give you a box of Lego’s and ask you to make me a sandwich with them, what result could I reasonably expect? Would it be rational for me to expect something edible, delicious, and nutritious?

Of course not.

But in life we encounter a similar situation every moment of the day. Our efforts to communicate with one another are made with very crude tools. We have words (which have all sorts of different connotations and meanings) and choose how to use them based on our own experiences and upbringing. Some of us use gestures in an effort to clarify words. We may also stress certain syllables and use various intonations to add depth and meaning to words.

Ultimately however, the message that is actually conveyed to the receiver will invariably differ from the message that was intended.

Telling someone you love them is like handing them a Lego sandwich.

But love is the common denominator in interpersonal communication. The desire to communicate with another is an outgrowth of love, because love is the common ground of living things, it is the soil in which we are planted.

Even hate therefore, and disgust, and fear, are all manifestations of love. Though not necessarily the love of one for another, these feelings exist because of the innate conflict between the need to be understood and relate with others (the outgrowth of love), and the complications that result from being unable to truly communicate.

The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis states that "there is a systematic relationship between the grammatical categories of the language a person speaks and how that person both understands the world and behaves in it." In other words, the language you speak, with its rules and structure, shape the way you interact with the world. I believe this to be true. If you speak English and you only know one word for "sunset", you will experience the sunset differently from a Navajo, who if I'm not mistaken has several words for that time of day when the sun sets. Words are handles we use to grip reality. Different handles mean different interaction with reality.

If you have read this far, you're probably wondering what this spontaneous outburst of dime-store philosophy is all about. It is certainly a departure from my usual potty-mouthed rambling.

I don't know the answer. I was thinking about how the people I love are also the people I argue with most often. I was thinking about how the more intimate a relationship becomes, the greater the capacity for loneliness. Rainer Maria Rilke said that at bottom we are "completely and unutterably alone." Is it possible that the constructs of language are to blame for this?


Zac the Scooter king said...
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Zac the Scooter king said...
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Zac the Scooter king said...

Hey Dave, I like the thought about the ones you love are the ones you argue most with. Here is my little idea of why it is that we do this. Why do we argue with people, most often it is to bring them to our point of view. But in life, most of the time the less of a love we have for someone, the less we know about the, ergo we know less about their point of view. We also become more comfortable with the people we love, and feel as though we are able to express ourselves, and our point of views. Why do we love people, people often say that opposites attract, while this is always true for magnets, it is not for humans. We often try and seek out people that are as much like us as possible, because for the most part, we don't like to go out of our comfort zones. What this means is we try and seek out someone who shares our core values. This could stretch from views on God, food, transportation modes, the environment or anything that we feel is of importance to our lives. When we find people that share at least some of these values, we usually become friends, and this feeling of friendship will usually lead to feelings of love. This is a prime example of how we fall short in the availability of words to describe this feeling, because I don't feel the same way that I do about my parents, as I do about my dogs, or about my girlfriend, but we are only left with one word to describe it, love. Anyway, when we find someone who shares these same core values, we begin to love them. When this occurs, we begin to assume that they share other values in the same way that we do. But often times this doesn't occur, and we are left to either bring them to our point of view, go to their point of view, or if nothing else can happen, just agree to disagree.

TriDaddy said...

Hey Dave,
Just happened upon your site when I found the stella vs. vespa comparison. From Minnesota and buying a stella today!
Interesting post. A very old Jewish guy once said "Their is no greater love then this, that when a man lays down his life for his brother"
I think we are all afraid of being completely alone. I think that the more intimate we grow with our partners, wives the more we become aware of how selfishes and sometimes self-centered we all are. I look beyond this world for my hope in a intimate relationship that will never let me down. O.K. my two cents.
Great post and if ever interested visit my wifes blog at

Stellaaaaaa (marlon voice)