Sunday, December 19, 2010

Conversation as Exchange, Soul Suckers, Tit for Tat

Conversation is a civilized term for verbal and non verbal communication between two beings. As such it is an exchange. Information is as valuable as time.
In process psychiatry the object is to observe the 'exchange' itself, recognizing quanta of information and observing how one person shares or hoards depending on their level of generosity or paranoia.
Military folk naturally trained to paranoia are the most noted for being 'short of words'. The police are specifically trained in dominance tactics, demanding information themselves, with high expectation of receiving it, without returning information. Indeed, in such power positions the verbal interaction is less appropriately called a conversation as it is an "extraction". With threat of punishment one extracts information from another. Much is carried in the tone and non verbal presentation.
In another situation, the "sale", the conversation is a guise for the selected prosyletising of a particular marketing idea aimed at achieving reward. This at its rudest is commonly seen in the street peasant who approaches asking for the time then goes on to ask for money. In a way this is a kind of verbal to material extraction linked to a conversation con tidbit.
The softening up process in these latter extractions are associated with encouraging the 'flow' of data. Once the person has said what time it is, and agreed to something to do with the weather or whatever, the flow has been established and it's easier to extract the aimed for money thereafter.
Interestingly these 'soul suckers' and "takers" sociopathically do not recognise or return the value of your time or your information. The key word to note is 'entitlement' as they are commonly 'working' the 'marks' to perpetuate their notion of themselves as the 'smart baby'. The transaction in these instances is called 'soul sucking' because once the money is given there is not the same 'feeling' of well being associated with truly grateful civilized people who ask for help when they truly need it and are genuinely grateful when they receive it. The soul sucker takes the money as a thief and the giver is left with the sense of 'having been taken".
Often sociopaths use elaborate cons which harm society as a whole because they lie and plead for help which would normally go to the ones they are imitating. An obvious example would be the beggar who can walk but sits in the wheelchair asking for help for their dying sister. This particular sociopathic gambit does damage to those in wheelchairs who might need help and now society hardened by the social criminals might well turn their back and not be particularly sensitive to a person who says they have a dying relative.
It is for the immediate above reason the paranoid and military don't give initially. They avoid the hustle by this means.
In an conversational exchange one can actually observe like and equal amounts of quanta of information being exchanged. This is commonly the opening gambit in a conversation. The standard language translation books put forward the prototype which goes as follows:
What is your name?
My name is.
What is your name?
My name is.
Where are you from?
Where are you from?
Here there is a précise and equal exchange. The only thing that would change the 'value' of the information would be the celebrity status of a name, ie a wanted criminal or a rich king in a ghetto setting. Otherwise, normally this introduction represents a true conversation. There is the classic 'tit for tat'.
What makes for a good feeling in a conversation is this exchange or the experience of getting more information for less, where the information given is of the quality desired. In the latter case if I am interested in how to make a dish I've had at a restaurant and am an amateur chef, I will be very appreciative and feel happy if the chef comes out into the restaurant and gives me the details of the sauce that I've so enjoyed. Note that the chef and I in this example are part of a mutual appreciation society and that I exchange praise for his work and then go away planning to cook myself a similar meal.
If however the chef is a paranoid businessman with the sense that his success is in the one recipe and I am another espionage businessman seeking to 'steal' the 'information' about his famous 'sauce' to use at my restaurant this whole exchange can be macabre in comparison. Indeed much of the introduction of money into human activity has resulted in the hoarding and paranoia about all information because 'we are told', identity theives are always after us. Maybe the way I say something, maybe my 'bon mot', maybe my smile, any of this might well be worth more than the standard exchange. I may be worth millions and others are trying to 'steal' this from me. Nothing crimps creativity more than this kind of thinking. In the village not so long ago by human reckoning, a generation or two, money was not a part of the vast majority of exchanges. Just as my father told me a lawyer was only a part of a will and a house sale so too money was not part of the majority of transactions. Barter of some kind however has always been normative in society. The professionalism in society has introduced sophistication and coupled it to money, a specifically controlled, scarce, manipulated commodity whose principal value is it's capacity to buy weaponry above all other products.
In the earlier example of exchange and feeling good, I'd simply 'share' information and leave feeling good if I didn't feel 'interrogated'. In this case if a person asked me about my school, I'd tell them and wait expecting quite reasonably they would then share about their school.
Given that soul suckers and other paranoid criminal and police types, those damaged in early child hood and chronically needy and defensive and not uncommonly thinking 'the best defense is an offense' to justify their own initiatory offensiveness, the original exchange pattern of 'polite conversation' became readily recognized and open to imitation by psychopaths and sociopaths. They took information and didn't give.
To this end, in today's more sophisticated world the conversationalist often has to 'test' the waters with 'free conversational tidbits'. In this ultrasound type of communication, used by whales, and submarines a person 'pings' another, giving them free bits of information and observing whether they have developed sufficiently spiritually to be able to engage in adult conversation.
To the sociopath and the needy "perpetual child type" if you give something for free then clearly 'you' don't appreciate it's value and "I" can 'take it". This was observed in cultural development where primitive cultures desperately living hand to mouth would readily take anything that came their way and lacked any sense of proprietorship or exchange. In early interaction with them there was always the issue of 'theft' and the issue of 'ownership' problems with no one initially appreciating that a primitive culture is highly limited in it's endeavors because it lacks the organizational structure to do large work or highly specialized work. The fact that it's members would 'take' shiny things and rapidly entered into 'barter' and 'exchange' for sophisticated materials indicated that they clearly wanted what to that date they'd been unable to manage or make themselves.
The making of a pair of glasses is far beyond the capacity of any hunter gatherer group or even agricultural societies in their early development. The advance to industrial society out of the agricultural excess leads to the ability of individuals to specialize to a degree where a watchmaker or maker of eye glasses develops. Of course the 'products' of these specialized works can be 'taken'. However they can not be reproduced without the specialized individuals.
The whole world of 'patent' and 'copywrite' today is the furthest extension of this development.
Clearly the primitive social economies of fascist communist countries were good at war and theft surviving as long as they did through the rape of the communities their ideologies invaded. New governments always look good at first as evidenced repeatedly in modern times in Africa where one tribe takes the wealth of another making themselves richer by reducing the whole to half. Politically societies commonly go through these 'war lord' beaurocratic developments before they reach some measure of democracy. Democracies then commonly face the threat of devolution within to the previous elite war lord 'strong man' societies or oligarchies which are meanwhile trying to take them over from without. However they fail to perpetuate simply because there is no real reward or protection for the watchmaker and maker of eye glasses. These individuals were threatened to perform in these communities but immediately given the opportunity would move to where their specialization would gain them assets. Today 12 year olds manage guns and whole armies of children can master war with little leadership. Sometimes these 'warriors' appear like men and women but by the brainwashing techniques of their societies have only achieved 12 year old developmental status. Nothing more is really needed for the task at hand.
However children can only apprentice in the real crafts. Beurocracies exists to contain and suck the life of engineers and doctors and scientists while in the arts the bullies steal the works of creative individuals likewise forcing even highly skilled and talented athletes to have to unionize.
All this comes back to the exchange. Information and ideas are units of exchange. On the internet there's a very exciting 'freeware" movement that competes with the existing 'copywrite' and 'patent' movement. It may well be the ping of the whale.
One individual to another it's critical to note the same 'sales' maneuvers that go with 'bartering' being played out in such arenas as 'dating'. I might well watch benignly as you offer more and more information to me over a coffee recognising your 'low self esteem' and 'pedestalling' of me by the amount of 'baksheesh' in information you might give to me. I can make something of little value appear more valuable by holding out on giving it as one might hold a piece of smoked salmon before a dog. The longer he is denied this 'food' (albeit of great dog food worth) the greater it's value acrues to him. Further I can 'starve' him and 'deny' him any food and make any old dog food appear exceptional through the starvation process.
The terrible consequence of drug and alcohol abuse and addiction is that it acts like a solvent and people share all manner of information without consideration of the purpose of the audience.
Without divergence into the drug and alcohol world where men and women play the 'poker face' game trying to 'control' themselves compared to those around them in that sociopathic drunken arrogant superiority inferiority gambit interaction usually with a marketing tidbit of money, power or sex thrown in, the mainstream conversations can be assessed purely as they play in the "process" by comparing them against the normative 'tit for tat' exchange. This latter has been called by other names in game theory where conversations are measured such or in the transactional analysis models where similarly the assessment of individual character and intent could be derived from observation of the 'exchange' or even a 'slice of conversation'.
Much of friendship is associated with the feeling of being able to 'talk' without their being 'ulterior motives' or 'hidden agendas'. Conversation is assumed by so many but in fact very few indeed have this skill today. Reading Jane Austen for instance is a lesson in the history of conversations. People assume they are conversationalists when in fact they are simply takers or salesmen. Conversation today is rare because much of our activity is parallel play, together we watch entertainment rather than participate in the exchange.
Good conversations are in fact like good tennis matches without the scoring. Today it's even common for a couple of tennis players to forget the game and play fisticuffs in the middle of a tournament. Worse I heard of a golfer punching another. In hockey one might anticipate competing teams being allowed to carry knives to increase the ratings on television. No doubt these 'new games' , variations on much more primitive, games would be entertaining for some but they'd not be tennis, golf or hockey. The same is true for many conversations today. Partly this has to do with the social police and bullies but mostly it's just ignorance.
Not surprisingly technology in the form of messaging and Twitter and even Facebook, though not so much, are being developped not so much on the basis of today's human interactions but rather using the historical conversational forms increasingly lost in the non virtual world today. As such they are filling the void that is obviously important to the communicating relational human. Possibly conversations are possible in these once removed media because people have become so out of control of their emotions and so defensive and oversensitive that they simply can't have a conversation person to person.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


Douglas said...

Very interesting post, surprised by your ending comments about Facebook and Twitter though ... these seem like deserts of inversion and narcissism to me sometimes.

haykind said...

My optimism is that we've turned a corner and are on our way home again.

Douglas said...

So conversation has basically disappeared in our society but somehow these mechanisms such as Twitter and Facebook are going to rescue us ? I see no reason to be 'optimistic' about this hypothesis - they remove the human bodies and further alienate and distort any conversation that might take place ... To me they are just another way to force us into isolated silos in which we talk mainly to ourselves.