Small Talk

Honoring Clay January (Lightning Rod) RIP 2/6/2013
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Lightning Rod
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Small Talk

Post by Lightning Rod » July 11th, 2011, 7:02 pm

Small Talk
I never really considered myself good at small-talk. I suppose it was my own sense of self-importance that made me reluctant to practice enough to excel at the art. I never paid that much attention to it, I suppose. But now that I can't do it anymore, I realize how important and useful the activity is and what a natural at it I was. I never noticed myself doing it and that is often the mark of true genius in anything, that it can be done in such an effortless way, unconsciously almost. Had I been asked to evaluate the importance of small-talk I'm sure I would have said, 'not very important at all.' That was why it was called small-talk, wasn't it?

Not until we look at why small-talk exists do we begin to understand how important it is. The purpose of small-talk is to save us from the most frightening and terrible thing that we can imagine--silence. And not only silence but awkward silence, embarrassing silence, silence which might otherwise be used to really observe and pay attention to what is contained in the pure, sharp moment. Imagine what an obvious and pitiful fraud a stage magician would be without the distraction of his patter. In the absence of it the illusions simply wouldn't work. When we say that a doctor has poor 'bed-side manner' we refer to an ineffective use of small-talk.

So now this poet finds himself in a particularly helpless and awkward situation. I can't talk at all, large, small or otherwise. My voice has been surgically removed. They sliced me from ear to ear and cut out my larynx. What can I say? It left me speechless. I am reduced to a mute and captionless cartoon character or a silent mime, a pitiful and laughable dumb clown with a tragic painted-on face. I must tell you, this is hard for a poet to bear.

The voice is a poet's primary tool, what allows him to elevate the merely verbal lnto the musical. The voice, with it's built-in rhythms and tones and nuances of inflection and emphasis is the instrument we use to play poetry.

It's not that I can't communicate at all. Certainly I can write. My best friend these days is my little white marker pad which I use to scribble my commands and responses, my wishes and answers, my signals to the outside world. I can make my specific thoughts and desires known, I just can't talk. And if you can't talk, you can't do small-talk. So, while I can be factual and tell you if I'm cold or hungry or horny, while I can indicate what I'm talking about and conduct business transactions and get practical things accomplished, while I can make myself understood well enough to function in the world, I can't use speech to make you comfortable or receptive by filling in awkward empty sonic space with inconsequential, meaningless, unnecessary words, the ones that simply tell you that the conversation is alive and continues, that I'm paying attention to you, that we are together here and now and everything is alright. Small-talk.

Then there is the matter of talking too much. It's one thing to not speak and have people assume that you have nothing to say or that you are a fool and quite another to open your mouth and remove all doubt. So, since I can't make small-talk with you. I'll just shut up now. Kiss me, you fool.
"These words don't make me a poet, these Eyes make me a poet."

The Poet's Eye

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sooZen
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Re: Small Talk

Post by sooZen » July 12th, 2011, 7:58 am

“Silence is a source of great strength.” - Lao Tzu

“Let us be silent, that we may hear the whispers of the gods.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson

“When one is a stranger to oneself, then one is estranged from others, too. If one is out of touch with oneself, then one cannot touch others…. Only when one is connected to one’s own core, is one connected to others….. And for me, the core, the inner spring, can best be re-found through silence.”
Anne Morrow Lindbergh.

“All man’s miseries derive from not being able to sit quiet in a room alone.”
Blaise Pascal

“You do not need to leave your room… Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait. Do not even wait, be quite still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked. It has no choice. It will roll in ecstasy at your feet.”
Frank Kafka

NOBLE SILENCE….
The Buddha

Clay, some may go on chattering endlessly to no end. Because you are silenced, you have no choice but to listen and perhaps will find that most of what people say matters not one whit. We like to talk about "ourselves" ad nauseam about what we are, want, and mostly show how insecure we really are in the grand scheme of things by covering up those "awkward" silences. Yet, it is in the silence, between the words, that we really come to know ourselves. Everything that happens becomes an opportunity, and this event in your life is just that. Notice how people rattle on about this and that and most of what they say has no import whatsoever. I am sad that your voice is silenced for you but I have no doubt you will take your immense creativity and learn to speak where all can hear and perhaps teach a thing or two to others about keeping one's mouth shut and just listening to the silence.
Freedom's just another word...



http://soozen.livejournal.com/

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Artguy
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Re: Small Talk

Post by Artguy » July 12th, 2011, 9:00 am

For one, your voice still resonates with poetic power. Secondly small talk makes very nervous. I guess i am afraid of inadvertently insulting someone or somehow embarrassing myself. So who am I to think myself above embarrassment, or to commit some faux pas. I should really work on getting over myself because as we all know the self is nonexistent. :wink:

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Re: Small Talk

Post by Steve Plonk » July 12th, 2011, 12:05 pm

LRod, great to see you up & around on the net. Silence might be "golden",
but a silver pen is money in the bank... :)
Artguy, I think ""small talk" serves an useful purpose when
one disagrees on many things. The weather is always an
interesting subject--especially here lately. :) :)

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judih
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Re: Small Talk

Post by judih » July 12th, 2011, 12:36 pm

sometimes smalltalk grows
if the other enjoys larger talk
and largelisten

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Arcadia
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Re: Small Talk

Post by Arcadia » July 12th, 2011, 9:32 pm

sharp text, l-rod, gracias for sharing it! :)
when I was highly disphonic for two months last year I realized about the high ammount of energy that it tooks to talk and also the sounds & voices around and inside me got louder & sometimes not at all confortable... I also realized how difficult was to interact when you can´t do it in the ways and levels most people do it or most people reminded you doing it... it was weird but also revealing...
besote! :D

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stilltrucking
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Re: Small Talk

Post by stilltrucking » July 13th, 2011, 6:42 pm

Thinking about how the blind are able to focus their other senses. Your writing seems even more focused then it was before. And your writing was always a model of clarity.



I am clicking my ruby slippers together saying "There is no place like The Emerald City" I don't know how else I am going to get there for the auction. I may have to phone in.

Have you thought about learning to sign?
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Lightning Rod
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Re: Small Talk

Post by Lightning Rod » July 14th, 2011, 1:49 pm

Interesting observations, Veronica, et al
Not being able to make small-talk has caused me to examine its qualities and purposes closer than I did before. I think it is inconsequential but also very important.
I've always been very good at endearing myself to practically total strangers using glib and reassuring small-talk. I'm very good at reading cues in order to choose the appropriate subject matter, something they would be comfortable talking about. This is very useful no matter what the primary reason you have for wanting to communicate with another person. Especially if you want something from the person, anything from their money to their cooperation to their permission to do something, it helps if they like you or are at least comfortable with you. Any salesman knows this.
I never appreciated how much I rely on this ability to massage people, to knead them into pliability with my speech. I feel very vulnerable without it. In general, I feel quite vulnerable without my voice. I can't warn you if a piano is about to fall on your head, I can't scream for help etc. but in the subtle area of personal human dynamics it is such a large part of what it is to be human. It has caused me to rely on more primal and basic means of communication like body language and touching to convey these vague human thoughts and desires.
There is no question in my mind that we can learn a vast amount about a person by listening to his small-talk. The subjects that he chooses to mention will always tell you a great deal about his values and what matters to him. In what context he speaks of other people is very instructive about how he feels about himself. These things are revealed in small-talk or common speech rather than more formal, structured speech.
Good points about listening, Kurt and Sooz. and about silence. I'm learning to use my silence in ways I never expected. It can be as eloquent as words, but as a writer I'm pretty impossibly strung-out on words.
"These words don't make me a poet, these Eyes make me a poet."

The Poet's Eye

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Arcadia
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Re: Small Talk

Post by Arcadia » July 14th, 2011, 9:43 pm

I never appreciated how much I rely on this ability to massage people, to knead them into pliability with my speech :lol: love the image...!!!!!

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Re: Small Talk

Post by creativesoul » August 2nd, 2011, 1:44 am

with out small talk perhaps the juices of love are left smoldering- language being rather decieving, and often confusing is replaced by a heart felt smile-and later on i would imagine-thinking as i do now of the best conversations i ever had, the best days in love-and finally the quiet in my heart instead of that driven by passion has retired into a bear...the cave- the hibernation, the healing- spring will come -and emerging from that cave..perhaps small talk and honey will have some appeal at that time-nice writing- always a pleasure--aloha
reason is over rated, as is logic and common sense-i much prefer the passions of a crazy old woman, cats and dogs and jungle foliage- tropic rain-and a defined sense of who brings the stars up at night and the sun up in the morning---

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